Santo y Blue Demon vs. Drácula y el Hombre Lobo

[Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man]

(Cinematográfica Calderón, 1972) Prod: Guillermo Calderón Stell, Santo; Dir: Miguel M. Delgado; Scr: Alfredo Salazar; Photo: Rosalío Solano; Music Dir: Gustavo C. Carrión; Prod Mgr: Carlos Suárez; Prod Chief: Jorge Cardeña; Sub-Dir: Américo Fernández; Asst Dir: Miguel Angel Madrigal; Film Ed: Jorge Bustos; Art Dir: Salvador Lozano; Decor: Adalberto López; Makeup: Margarita Ortega; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Dialog Rec: Francisco Alcayde; Re-rec: Ramón Moreno; Eastmancolor; Union: STPC

Cast: Santo (himself), Blue Demon (himself), Aldo Monti (), Agustín Martínez Solares [hijo] (Rufus Rex, the Wolf Man), Nubia Marti (Lina), María Eugenia San Martín (Laura Cristaldi), Wally Barrón (Eric), Jorge Mondragón (Prof. Luis Cristaldi), Lissy Fields (Rosita), Antonio Raxel (police cmdte.), Carlos Suárez (gangster chief), Lourdes Batista (Josefina?), Carlos León (man in chains); Wrestlers: Angel Blanco, Renato el Hippie; Enrique Llanes (announcer), Roberto Rangel (referee), Margarito Luna (gardener)

Mexico City release: July 1973; 3 week run; Authorization: A

Notes: This is one of my favorite Santo films, although I can no longer say for sure that it is my most favorite; I also consider Santo vs. las mujeres vampiro, Operación 67, and La venganza de las mujeres vampiro as among the "top" Santo pictures. It might be noted that these four films were directed by five different men (René Cardona Sr. and Jr. shared credit on Operación 67), and the only writers who worked on more than one of this quartet were Fernando Osés and Rafael García Travesí (who had shared credits on two each).

Santo y Blue Demon vs. Drácula y el Hombre Lobo isn't a perfect film, although it manages to avoid many of the problems that earlier Santo pictures suffer from. The plot is reasonably straight-forward (there is a fairly pointless digression regarding a gang of crooks, who could have been eliminated easily), the production values are satisfactory, the monster makeup is decent, and the cast is strong (Marti, Monti, Barron, Mondragón, and Martínez Solares are all quite good). While not as atmospheric as some of Santo's black-and-white horror films, it is played seriously and avoids some of the problems--caused by low budget and just plain shoddy filmmaking--that plagued a number of other entries in Santo's oeuvre.

Speaking of other movies, Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman borrows significant elements from El mundo de los vampiros [The World of the Vampires, 1960], and is a virtual remake of Las mujeres panteras [The Panther Women, 1966], a "Luchadoras" [Wrestling Women] series film. The common thread in all three pictures is scripter Alfredo Salazar (although he was only credited with "adaptation" on the first movie, from a story by Raúl Zenteno and Jesús Velázaquez). Like Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman, El mundo de los vampiros concerns a vampire seeking revenge on the descendants of the man who "killed" him centuries earlier (one of these descendants, a young woman, is subsequently vampirized) and climaxes in a cavern which--unfortunately for the vampire--contains a pit full of sharp, wooden stakes!

Las mujeres panteras repeats the family-vengeance theme and features women wrestlers Loreta (Ariadna Welter) and Rubí (Elizabeth Campbell) and one-shot masked superhero El Ángel in the roles later played by Santo and Blue Demon, and panther women and a mummified magician instead of Dracula and the Wolfman, but otherwise the pictures are extremely similar. Coincidentally, Jorge Mondragón plays the equivalent role in both movies (and gets murdered both times!). Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman also borrows a key scene--the gory resurrection of the vampire--from the Hammer film Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966).

Although it doesn't have the sexy aspects of some of the previous Santo films, ...Drácula y el Hombre Lobo does have some "adult" aspects which would seem to make the film a bit strong for children. For example, the sympathetic Professor Cristaldi has his throat graphically cut, then returns as a zombie to confront his little granddaughter (who is also later threatened by her mother, who has become a vampire!). The plot also hinges on Laura Cristaldi's lovelorn state, which allows Rufus Rex to seduce her as part of Dracula's plan.

On the negative side, several of the action scenes drag, particularly since there is no "fight" music to help out. In the fight in a warehouse with the gangsters the music is particularly noticeable by its absence; the final battle with Dracula's werewolf henchman is scored with "spooky" chords for the first half, and then the "action" music suddenly starts. There are also several instances where action sequences are described rather than shown: for instance, Dracula's hunchbacked assistant breathlessly informs his master that Santo met three werewolves in the forest and killed two with the magic dagger (the third escaped to bring the news). Why didn't we see that? Similarly, Rufus (in human form) walks off into the woods with Laura; there is a shot of the full moon, then a woman's scream is heard. Later, the police commandant says a lot of human blood was found in the forest. Presumably, Rufus turned into a werewolf and killed Laura (although she later shows up as a vampire slave of Dracula, oddly enough) but again, the audience doesn't get to see any of this occur.

One curious aspect of the movie are the "arena" wrestling bouts, which are not integrated into the plot at all. Shot on a soundstage against a blue background (an offscreen narrator vainly tries to convince the audience the matches are occurring in a "modern arena" in the "capital of the Mexican republic"), one battle opens the movie (Santo vs. Ángel Blanco), one introduces Blue Demon (he wrestles "Renato el Hippie"), and the final match occurs at the very end of the movie, and is a tag-team between all four previously-seen wrestlers! As time went on, the Santo films had become less wrestling-oriented: although his identity as a professional wrestler was still integral to Santo's persona, his later movies rarely centered around wrestling and the filmed matches grew less frequent and less relevant to the plot.

Meanwhile, in an underground chamber--which has some neat, flame-spouting metal bat-heads as part of the decor--the hunchbacked Eric invokes the Prince of Darkness. Seven eclipses of the sun and moon have occurred since the Magician Cristaldi slew Drácula and the Wolf Man. Soon they will rise again.

Santo and his girlfriend Lina go to visit her uncle, Professor Luis Cristaldi, who lives on the outskirts of the city with his widowed daughter Laura, and Laura's little girl Rosita. [Rosita is played by Lissy Fields, who could possibly be related to James L. Fields, head of the Churubusco studios sound department for many years] The Professor received a letter indicating that the Cristaldi family is going to have a terrible vengeance wreaked on them. 400 years before, his ancestor killed Drácula and the Wolf Man with a magic dagger--which the Professor now possesses. Santo promises to help Laura, Lina and Rosita if anything happens to the older man.

Later, the Professor puts the dagger in Rosita's bedroom to protect her. However, as he returns to his own room, he is chloroformed and dragged off by Eric, who takes him to the underground chamber. Eric's ancestors served Drácula and now he will do his part. The Professor warns Eric that Drácula can't be trusted. "I don't want his gratitude," Eric replies, "I want his gold!" He hangs Cristaldi upside-down and slits his throat, allowing the blood to drip into Drácula's coffin. The vampire changes from a skeleton back into the fully-clad undead Count, and Eric repeats the process on the Wolf Man, who emerges wearing a nice yellow silk shirt.

Drácula tells his servants that they need a legion of vampires and werewolves to begin their quest to dominate the world. In a short period of time, the cave is filled up with men and women prisoners, who are vampirized and werewolf-ized. [This is another scene which seems to be truncated, since there is not even a brief montage showing how this crowd of victims was assembled so quickly.]

Meanwhile, Professor Cristaldi's absence is reported to the police, who aren't too enthusiastic about hunting for a vampire and a werewolf. So, Santo tells Lina and Laura that he's going to ask "a faithful and brave friend, a formidable ally" to help out. Laura: "Who is he?" There is a cut to the wrestling ring, and the announcer introduces "Blue Demon!" After Blue defeats Renato el Hippie, Santo visits him in his dressing room (which coincidentally has two big pictures of Santo on the walls). "Once more we'll fight together for justice," Santo says. Blue digs his wristwatch- radio out of his locker, just in case.

The Wolf Man, now clean-shaven, is taken to an apartment in the city by Eric. Dressed up in a suit, he's quite presentable: "You look good, boss," Eric says. "Yes, very good," Rufus admits. He then has some gangsters in Eric's employ attempt to kidnap Laura, so that he can "rescue" her. She falls for his smooth talk. Later, Rufus tells Drácula: "She's a sad and romantic woman. She'll fall in love with me and we'll sacrifice her at the next full moon." Drácula tries to do his bit, with Rosita as his intended target, but recoils when he spots the magic dagger on her nightstand. He'll have to find some way around it.

Rufus pays a visit to Laura's house; when he leaves, Blue Demon follows. He climbs a tree to spy on Rufus in his apartment, but Eric spots the masked wrestler in a mirror, and he and Rufus pretend that Rufus is trying to help free the "kidnaped" Professor Cristaldi. Santo and Blue Demon follow Eric to a warehouse, where the gangsters attack them. However, Lina has stowed away in Santo's car, and she saves the wrestlers by toppling a wall of boxes with a forklift! She also calls the cops, who arrive and arrest the crooks.

Rufus, still pretending to help, says he has learned that Cristaldi can be found in an old house in the country. Santo and Blue Demon go to check; Santo goes in first, and he does see the white-faced Professor, who starts to strangle him! Eric clubs Santo from behind, but has to leave when Blue Demon enters. Back at the Cristaldi mansion, the monsters are working overtime. First Rufus and Laura go out for a walk; as described above, a shot of the full moon is followed by a woman's screams. One down. Then some bald guy vampire bites Josefina, the maid, who lures Rosita out of range of the magic dagger, and they head for the monsters' hideout in the forest. Two down. Then Drácula hypnotizes Lina at long-range and orders her to come to the spook headquarters. Three down.

In the meantime, Santo and Blue Demon have returned from their search for the Professor and are passing the time playing chess. They don't see any of this go on! Santo decides to look over some books in the Professor's library to see if he can find a clue; while he's reading, Blue Demon sees Lina leave, and he follows her, but is grabbed by three werewolves in the forest.

Santo sees something in a book about the magic dagger, and remembers his original conversation with the Professor. He finds the dagger in Rosita's room, but suddenly discovers that everybody has disappeared! The gardener shows up and says he saw everybody wander off into the forest. Santo uses his wrist-radio to contact Blue Demon, who's chained up in the vampire's lair. He gives Santo instructions on how to get there: the cavern is located underneath an old house in the forest.

In that house, Lina is taken to a bedroom by two vampire women. Drácula starts to bite her, but is interrupted by Eric, who reports that Santo is on his way. Rosita, meanwhile, sees her zombie grandfather (who ignores her). Laura, now a red-clad vampire herself, takes Rosita down to the cavern. Santo busts into the house but is gassed by Eric, who starts to stab him with the magic dagger, but (stupidly) changes his mind and goes to see Lina instead. He thinks m aybe Lina knows how to "operate" the dagger (she doesn't), so he can force Drácula and the Wolf Man to turn over their treasure. But while he's talking to her, the dagger suddenly swivels around in his hand and stabs him! "I've committed so many crimes that I'm not human!" Eric gasps (the dagger is only harmful to monsters) and dies. Lina flees, stumbles over the unconscious Santo, and revives him.

Down in the cavern, one of the werewolves is forced to walk a plank across a pit of stakes; naturally, he falls in and is impaled. Now it's Blue Demon's turn, only he will have his hands tied behind his back, and Rufus is going to shake the plank! Santo appears and a battle begins. Rosita is rescued and Lina leaves with her. Rufus, after fighting for a while in human form, changes into a werewolf, and his furry sidekicks also join in. Drácula and the Wolf Man team up on Santo, but Blue Demon tosses his pal a rope; Santo swings and knocks the two monsters into the pit, where they are stuck full of holes. The other monsters all turn into little piles of smoky dust.

Santo and Blue Demon find Lina reading "Little Red Riding Hood" to Rosita, who has fallen asleep. This tries to be "ironic" but just comes off as dumb. Lina: "What will we tell her when she wakes up?" Santo: "That it was all a dream...a nightmare." This tries to be "ironic" but just comes off as dumb. After all, her grandfather was murdered and turned into a zombie, and her mother was murdered and became a vampire, and there's no way to undo that.

The film ends with a tag team match between Santo and Blue Demon against Renato el Hippie and Angel Blanco.

Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman is helped by a strong supporting cast. Aldo Monti came to Mexico from Italy, by way of Venezuela. Often cast as a romantic heartthrob in films and on TV, Monti had previously played Count Dracula opposite Santo in El tesoro de Drácula [The Treasure of Dracula, aka El vampiro y el sexo, 1968], and had also played a heroic role in La venganza de las mujeres vampiro [The Vengeance of the Vampire Women, 1970]. Around the time he made Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman, Monti also started working behind the cameras, directing El Santo in Anónimo mortal (1972); he later relocated to Southern California and helmed a a number of direct-to-video productions. Monti is physically suited for the role of the king vampire, but leaves most of the heavy lifting, so to speak, to his werewolf henchman Rufus Rex. Agustín Martínez Solares Jr., who plays Rufus, was the son of cinematographer Agustín Martínez Solares and the nephew of director Gilberto Martínez Solares. His acting career began in the mid-1960s but seems to have a terminated by the mid-'70s. The role of Eric, the greedy, hunchbacked henchman of Dracula and Rufus, was taken by veteran screen villain Wally Barrón. Barrón specialized in sleazy bad guys for more than 30 years, and has that one great line in Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman-- "I've committed so many crimes that I'm not human!"

On the distaff side, the cast of Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman features Nubia Martí and María Eugena San Martín. Relative newcomer Martí, generally cast as sweet and innocent young women, has a rather more assertive role in this picture, playing Santo's girlfriend Lina. He repeatedly tries to keep her out of harm's way, but she refuses to stay home and saves Santo's life twice during the movie! (In El increíble Profesor Zovek, 1971, Martí played one of the titular superhero's assistants but was less fortunate, falling prey to a mad doctor who saws off the top of her skull!) María Eugenia San Martín, who made her screen debut in the late 1950s, was a reliable ingenue during the 1960s, but had few screen credits after the early 1970s. She was no stranger to genre films: in addition to Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman, San Martín also worked with Santo in Santo en el misterio de la perla negra (1974, but shot in 1971), and with the Wrestling Women in Las luchadoras contra la momia [The Wrestling Women vs. the Mummy, 1964].

Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman was one of the final Santo movies to be shot at the Churubusco Studios in Mexico City (Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dr. Frankenstein, made a year later, was probably the last), and the production gloss imparted by the facilities and crew at the "STPC studio" (vs. the smaller, STIC-affiliated Estudios América, or the later Santo films shot outside of Mexico) is evident. The makeup for Rufus Rex and his subordinate wolfmen is pretty good, the sets are substantial, the photography and editing are slick. However, the picture has a few problems. A minor sub-plot with gangsters seems out of place, inserted simply to provide the opportunity for an action sequence (this also occurs in Santo contra el estrangulador and La venganza de la Llorona). Conversely, several potentially exciting sequences--Santo killing two werewolves with the Cristaldi dagger and Laura's conversion into a vampire--are only described, not shown.

Overall, Santo y Blue Demon vs. Drácula y el Hombre Lobo is a well-crafted, colorful horror movie. It's not really atmospheric (being far too brightly-lit and colorful) and it has its faults, but these are certainly outweighed by its advantages. Santo and Lina have a comfortable relationship which is nice to watch: she doesn't hesitate when the crooks in the warehouse get the drop on Santo and Blue Demon, taking decisive action to save them, and silently cheering them on while they fight the gang. After she revives Santo from the gas, he says "You've saved me twice, but now go back to the house and stay safe." She doesn't, of course, following him into the cavern. When he sees her, he says "Well, you found your way down here, so you can find your way out," and he puts her in charge of saving Rosita. Blue Demon is given more to do than in some previous pictures with Santo (there is even a hint that he is romantically interested in Laura, only to have her stolen away by Rufus Rex), and he is certainly treated with respect.

Certainly in the top 10% of Santo's pictures in every category: general entertainment value, production values, and Santo-content.

Posted 16 March 1998 by; revised 11 July 2018.

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