Santo en el hotel de la muerte

[Santo in the Hotel of Death]

(Películas Rodríguez--Estudios América, 1961) Dir: Federico Curiel; Adapt: Federico Curiel, Antonio Orellana; Story: Antonio Orellana, Fernando Osés; Photo: Fernando Colín; Music: Enrico Cabiati; Prod Mgr: Luis Quintanilla Rico; Asst Dir: Alberto Mariscal; Film Ed: J. Juan Munguía; Art Dir: Arcado Artis Gener; Camera Op: Raúl Rodríguez; Sound Rec: Enrique L. Rendón; Re-rec: Félix Henkel; Makeup: Graciela Muñoz; Sound Ed: Sergio Soto; Union: STIC

CAST: Santo (himself), Fernando Casanova (Fernando Lavalle), Ana Bertha Lepe (Virginia), Beto el Boticario (Conrado González), Waly [sic] Barrón (Professor Corbera), Luis Aragón (Armando Correa), Alejando Parodi (blackmailer), Lisa Rossel (woman drummer), Fredy Guzmán (jazz combo leader), Augusto Benedico (Santo's assistant), Lucia Prado (Irene Lippert?), Elvira Castillo (Gloria?), Olga Leticia Ortiz, Fernando Osés (cook), Yolanda Ciani (don Armando's daughter), Magda Urvizu, Norma Jiménez Pons, Enrique Couto (police chief), Black Shadow (wrestler), Mario Chávez [Cid] (hotel clerk), Armando Gutiérrez (don Eusebio), Vicente Lara (henchman), Juan Garza (henchman), Fernando Yapur (henchman)

Mexico City release: January 1963; 1 week run; Authorization: A

Spanish release data: Authorization date: 7 January 1964; Total spectators: 201,967.

NOTES: like Santo contra el cerebro diabólico, this film had been out of circulation for many years until its recent video release. As a result, reference books like Emilio García Riera's Historia documental del cine mexicano had only partial information; however, in the case of Hotel, the previously-available synopsis was mostly accurate.

The original advertising material (posters, lobby cards) for this film features nice artwork of a leering skeleton and nightgown-clad women, but no Santo! This is actually a form of truth in advertising for, despite the title, Santo shows up only in the latter portions of the picture (he doesn't even appear until the second "episode" and doesn't get to the hotel until the third part). There is only one arena wrestling bout (with Black Shadow). Like Cerebro diabólico, this is basically a Fernando Casanova-Beto el Boticario-Ana Bertha Lepe vehicle with Santo tacked on as a sort of guest star.

Overall, Hotel is less entertaining than Cerebro diabólico, which had a lot of physical action and a nice bravura turn by Luis Aceves Castañeda as the villain; here, the mystery aspects of the plot take precedence and the fights are restricted to the final episode. On the positive side, the film doesn't drag and benefits from location shooting at the Hotel Vasco (run by Eusebio Alburua, who's impersonated in the film by Armando Gutiérrez) in Cuautla, Morelos, and the nearby pyramids (the tunnel and tomb interiors were obviously shot at the América studios, however). The cast isn't bad, although Wally Barrón doesn't have a chance to develop into a real mad scientist since his identity as the villain is kept hidden until the end; perhaps the most interesting performer is Lisa Rossel, a young blonde woman who sings and plays the drums (at the same time!) and has an interesting sort of "rebel" look (at the end she's revealed to be in cahoots with Alejandro Parodi, who sports a beatnik-style beard). A young Yolanda Ciani has a minor role as one of Luis Aragón's three step-daughters. Casanova and Beto el Boticario (Roberto Ramírez) are both fine, but Ana Bertha Lepe isn't given much to do.

Tourists visit some Mexican pyramids; Prof. Corbera says no one has ever located the treasure reportedly hidden there. Back at the nearby luxury hotel, a swinging jazz group plays as the guests dance. Then a young blonde woman appears and sings a torch song while she plays the drums. One couple goes out into the garden and sees the body of a female Colombian tourist floating in a stream; when everyone else runs out, the body is no longer in sight.

Back in Mexico City, Fernando and Conrado are assigned to the case, since their boss is a friend of hotel owner don Eusebio. But the chief warns them not to let snoopy reporter Virginia--who is Fernando's girlfriend--find out where they're going. Sure enough, Virginia is waiting outside police headquarters, but Fernando gives her a fake story to throw her off the track.

At the hotel, a beatnik-looking writer introduces himself to the rich don Armando, who is on vacation with his three attractive step-daughters. The writer blackmails Armando: he knows the other man deserted his first wife to marry a rich widow. He wants 100,000 pesos, to be paid in 72 hours.

Fernando and Conrado arrive and confer with don Eusebio; they are also shocked to see Virginia show up. While searching the room of the missing Colombian tourist, they see someone lurking outside. The spy gets away, but leaves a footprint and a note, warning of more deaths unless don Eusebio leaves the hotel.

Irene Lippert, a guest in the room next to Virginia, tells the reporter she is being threatened with death by an old boyfriend. Later, Conrado goes to invite Irene to dinner and finds her (nearly) nude body in the bathtub, with a slashed throat.

[Episode 2: "El tunel secreto" (The Secret Tunnel) begins here]

When Conrado brings Fernando and the others back, Irene's corpse is gone! But the blood remains. Fernando refuses to call Santo on his radio-wristwatch, because he wants to solve the case himself. When someone attacks Virginia in her room, Fernando comes to her aid and is knocked unconscious. Virginia takes advantage of this to use the radio-watch and call Santo!

Santo says he'll come, but first he has to wrestle at the arena. He dispatches Black Shadow (Alejandro Cruz, still known by his masked identity even though he had been unmasked years earlier) rather quickly.

Fernando and Conrado set up a crime lab in their room. Conrado sneaks into the guests' rooms to steal their shoes (to match against the footprint), while Fernando has each guest write a note (to compare with the threatening letter). Later, someone steals the note, but Conrado does get a match--the hotel cook's shoes! But all of this is overshadowed when the body of Gloria, one of don Armando's step-daughters, is found underwater in the swimming pool!

[Episode 3: "El tesoro de la muerte" (The Treasure of Death) begins here]

Naturally, the corpse vanishes before it can be examined. Fernando goes into a storeroom and hears the cook getting instructions via radio; a fight breaks out, with more villains appearing every second (meanwhile, the mystery boss keeps asking over the radio, "What's happening?!"). Santo finally shows up and joins the fray. One of the henchmen escapes, and when the police arrive, Santo is also gone. He later tells Fernando he tracked the henchman as far as the pyramids before losing the trail.

Fernando decides all of the women should stay in one room that night for safety; Prof. Corbera's bungalow is the biggest, so he is (unwillingly) evicted. Corbera is the villain behind the murders; the man who escaped tells him "That man [Santo] is a hurricane dealing out punches and has the strength of a bull." Corbera needs a piece of equipment from his room, so he sends two men through a secret passage to get it; everyone else is asleep, but Virginia just happens to be in the bathroom and she is kidnaped.

Don Armando refuses to pay the blackmailer and pulls a gun; Santo stops him from shooting, but then the blackmailer grabs the pistol! Eventually, Santo chases him down and tosses him in the pool, and he is arrested. However, Virginia's absence is noted, when all the women run outside (in their nightgowns) to see what the commotion is about (the female drummer/singer is arrested when the blackmailer rats on her).

At the pyramids, Santo is captured by the hotel clerk, one of Corbera's men, and taken to the scientist's lab. Fernando discovers the secret passage from the hotel, and stumbles across a room full of the murder "victims"--really wax figures of the missing women (although one "wax" figure blinks several times when he touches her cheek). He's also captured by Corbera's men. The scientist says "I never killed anyone," he just wanted to scare the guests and don Eusebio away so he could hunt for the treasure in peace (it's never explained how he constructed the secret passage from his room in the hotel to the pyramids without don Eusebio knowing about it). But now, everybody has to die (thanks to Fernando and Santo's snooping)--the "murdered" women are brought in. Corbera decides to remove Santo's mask first, and--it's Conrado! (this is definitely a surprise) The real Santo shows up and a fight breaks out. Corbera flees down a passage and plunges through a trap door into a chamber containing gold objects: the treasure! He laughs insanely.

Santo leaves the pyramid and hops into his silver sports car (his assistant is waiting, but slides over so Santo can drive). As he passes Fernando and Virginia, he shouts: "Don't worry about the Professor, he found his own punishment."

Santo en el hotel de la muerte is an adequate piece of entertainment, if pretty illogical, but--like the other Santo films of the early years--really makes little use of Santo himself.


Reviewed 18 Jan 1999 by dw45@umail.umd.edu; Updated 19 January 2000.

Thanks to Freddy Peralta for a copy of this film!