Santo y Blue Demon contra el Dr. Frankenstein

(Cin. Calderón--Santo, 1973) Prod: Guillermo Calderón Stell, Santo; Dir: Miguel M. Delgado; Scr: Lic. Francisco Cavazos, Alfred Salazar; Story: Alfredo Salazar; Photo: Rosalío Solano; Music Dir: Gustavo C. Carrión; Prod Mgr: Carlos Suárez; Prod Chief: Jorge Cardeña; Asst Dir: Jaime L. Contreras, Américo Fernández; Film Ed: Jorge Bustos; Art Dir: Javier Torres Torija; Makeup: Román Juárez; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Dialog Rec: Eduardo Arjona; Re-rec: Ramón Moreno; Sound Ed: José Liho; Union: STPC; Eastmancolor

CAST: Santo (Santo), Blue Demon (Blue Demon), Sasha Montenegro (Alicia Robles), Jorge Russek (Dr. Irving Frankenstein), Ivonne Govea (Marta), Jorge Mondragón (Prof. Ruiz), Carlos Suárez (henchman), Sonia Aguilar (Carmen), Rubén Aguirre (Dr. Genaro Molina), Jorge Casanova (Dr. Mora), Sebastián Verti, Carlos Nieto (Cmdte. Gutiérrez), Octavio Menduet (murdered husband), Sonia Fuentes, Angélica Chaín (Lilia), Agustín Meza de la Peña, Carlos Bravo y Fernández "Carl Hillos" (reporter), Lina Michel (first victim, Berta); wrestlers: Ray Mendoza, Enrique Vera, El Angel, César Valentino, El Gran Marcus; Enrique Llanes (announcer); referees: Roberto Rangel, José Rojas y Marhala

Mexico City release: October 1974; 2 week run; Authorization: A

NOTES: The climax of this film is virtually identical to Las luchadoras vs. el médico asesino and Las luchadores vs. el robot asesino, not surprising since Alfredo Salazar wrote all three pictures. Otherwise, Santo y Blue Demon contra el Dr. Frankenstein is a reasonably entertaining film with some clever bits but a rather disappointing "monster" (basically just a big black guy with a not-too obvious scar around his skull).

A woman walking home from work is kidnaped by a muscular black man who walks in a stiff, robot-like manner. She is taken to the secret laboratory of Dr. Irving Frankenstein. Frankenstein and his assistant Molina try to transplant the brain of the woman into the skull of another woman, and vice versa. But the operation fails, and both die. But instead of disposing of the bodies secretly, Frankenstein reanimates them and sends them out into the street. The women, wearing hospital gowns, their heads wrapped in bloody bandages and with black circles around their eyes, go to their homes: one strangles her sister, the other kills her husband (who, after reporting his wife missing to the police, apparently just went home, put on his pajamas, and went to bed!).

Frankenstein, who is really 113 years old but looks young, is experimenting on brain transplants so he can revive his wife Sandra, who died of brain cancer 80 years before (he keeps her body in a glass case; apparently he doesn't think giving his wife a new brain will change her personality at all). Molina brings two aged scientists to help: Frankenstein gives them a dose of the serum that restores their youth, and they agree to help him.

Frankenstein's only success is the black zombie Golem, who is motivated by an electronic device planted in his brain. But Golem, although immensely strong, is clumsy and slow. Frankenstein wants Santo's brain for his next experiment. He decides to kidnap Alicia Robles, a young woman whose father was a professional wrestler and who is now close friends with Santo and Blue Demon. Alicia is snatched when she leaves work, and Golem kills several policemen who try to intervene.

Santo and Blue Demon are notified of the kidnaping. Cmdte. Gutiérrez of the police welcomes their assistance; he has also assigned two women detectives, Marta and Carmen, to the case. When Frankenstein reads about this, he's upset: "Police wearing pants don't worry me, but police wearing skirts make me nervous. I've never trusted feminine intuition." He sends his henchmen to kidnap the two women, but Santo and Blue Demon foil the attempt. However, Golem arrives and the two wrestlers realize (after watching the zombie bend a fireplace poker with his bare hands) that discretion is the better part of valor, and duck out the back way with the two female detectives.

Frankenstein sends a note to Santo: he'll release Alicia if Santo surrenders in her place. Santo gives Blue Demon a wristwatch that contains a receiver; he has the transmitter in his watch, in case things get dangerous. Santo goes along with Frankenstein's men willingly, but the mad doctor refuses to release Alicia. Santo is strapped to an operating table in preparation for the experiment. He activates the watch, and Blue Demon arrives to release him. They defeat Frankenstein's men and free Alicia. However, Frankenstein, his chief henchman, and Golem escape.

In order to get revenge, Frankenstein poses as a foreign (masked) wrestling promoter, with Golem as his (masked) wrestler named "Mortis." He wrestles Santo, and is strangling the silver-masked man when Blue Demon spots Frankenstein's aide in the audience. He forces the man to reveal the plot. Frankenstein summons Golem from the ring, and they flee to the catwalks high in the arena. Blue Demon and Santo pursue: Golem and Frankenstein fall to their deaths. Frankenstein's corpse rapidly ages after he dies.

Santo y Blue Demon contra el Dr. Frankenstein isn't a bad film, although it isn't as wild as it could have been. Even though the two heroes don't appear until more than 10 minutes into the picture, the early sequence where the two zombie-women leave Frankenstein's lab and go home (where they kill their relatives!) makes up for this omission by its outrageousness.

Jorge Mondragón, as Alicia's employer Professor Ruiz, serves chiefly as comic relief. He reports Alicia missing to the police, but really doesn't know much about her personal life, except that he thinks she's married to both Santo and Blue Demon! Later, he says, "she said her boyfriend was Santo," but then changes his mind and decides, "she said she didn't have a boyfriend." As they leave, Blue Demon asks Santo, "Which insane asylum did Professor Ruiz escape from?"

While Blue Demon is given short shrift as usual, he is given a girlfriend (Angélica Chaín in one of her first roles) who appears in a couple of scenes, and in a scene in the police station he gets to display some personality. "If this sadistic murderer falls into our hands--" he begins, but Santo breaks in and says "--we'll turn him over to the authorities." "If the circumstances permit," Blue adds, "if not--" (he makes a fist, suggestively).

Jorge Russek steals the film, with lines like "When battling death, sometimes you have to kill." The rest of the cast is adequate, although Jorge Casanova (as one of the elderly scientists who joins Frankenstein's team) is saddled with a very obvious wig in his "old" scenes (the other scientist is played by a different actor after he turns young, but Casanova just dumps the gray wig and beard). It's amusing to see Rubén Aguirre--later a stalwart on the "Chespirito" TV shows--as a junior mad scientist. Ivonne Govea and Sonia Aguilar are cute and perky as the two police detectives, but they don't really do anything.

The production values are satisfactory, although Gustavo Carrión's score is uninspired, and the fight scenes are accompanied by slightly silly xylophone music.

Mildly entertaining.




Misterio en las Bermudas [Mystery in Bermuda]

(Prods. Agrasánchez, 1977) Exec Prod: David Agrasánchez L.; Prod: Rogelio Agrasánchez L.; Dir: Gilberto Martínez Solares; Scr: Gilberto and Adolfo Martínez Solares; Idea: Rogelio Agrasánchez; Photo: Adolfo Martínez Solares; Music: Ernesto Cortázar [Jr.]; Prod Crew: Jorge Moreno, Ernesto Fuentes, Luis Tovar; Film Ed: Jorge Bustos; Union: STIC

CAST: Santo (Santo), Blue Demon (Blue Demon), Mil Máscaras (Mil Máscaras), Silvia Manríquez (Rina), Sandra Duarte (spy), Carlos Suárez (head spy), Gaynor Kote (Princess Soreida), Ernesto Solis (Ramiro), Humberto Cabañas (spy), Julio César Agrasánchez (boy), Rebeca Sexton (spy?), Leticia Montemayor, José Luis Elizondo, Marco Antonio Marín

Mexico City release: 16 August 1979; 5 week run; Authorization: A

Spanish release data: Authorization date: 30 April 1980; Total spectators: 12,760 (not too good!)

NOTES: This film could be considered the "end" of the masked-wrestler genre, although Santo would go on to star in 4 additional pictures (and make a cameo appearance in one more), and Mil Máscaras would show up in a few more movies in the next two decades. But by 1977, the wrestling-hero films as a regular part of the Mexican film scene were passé. And in fact, the film seems designed to put an end to the genre, since the picture ends with the disappearance of the three masked heroes from the face of the earth, and then a nuclear explosion!

As the film begins, a mysterious beacon rises from the sea, and an airliner disappears. Then a strange storm suddenly comes up. The next day, Ramiro and a young friend go out on the dock to fish. The boy reels in a strange object: Santo's mask, covered with seaweed! Ramiro says, years before, he was present when some strange things happened, like planes and ships disappearing...

After a wrestling match, Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Máscaras are greeted by their fans, including Ramiro, an old acquaintance of Santo. Several attractive young women in bikinis try to make the acquaintance of Santo and the others at poolside , but the wrestlers have to leave to prepare for an important meeting. Meanwhile, another mysterious storm appears, and Ramiro is stranded at sea in his little boat. He's nearly sharkbait when Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Máscaras show up and save him.

At the meeting, the wrestlers are informed by a representative of the nation of Irania that his country is about to sign a treaty with theirs (unspecified, presumably Mexico). But agents of another country plan to kidnap the Princess Soreida, who is going to sign the treaty. Santo knows Soreida, whose mother is from the United States. A fake Princess will attempt to decoy the enemy agents, and Soreida will pose as a visiting karate expert.

Mil Máscaras is attacked by three men who knock him out and steal his watch. He's aided by one of the attractive young women they met at the pool, not knowing that she is one of the gang of foreign agents. She later introduces two friends to Santo and Blue Demon. Santo and Rina go back to his hotel room "to talk," but Rina slips him a mickey. She then quizzes him about his mission to protect Soreida, and--as an afterthought--asks him what he thought of the three young women he met. He says he thought two were "hypocritical and perverse," but Rina was sincere. She revives Santo and tells him that her father was a scientist who disappeared on a flight over the ocean nearby.

After a workout in a high school gym, Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras are attacked by the spy gang. Meanwhile, two men in shiny silver suits appear and kidnap Rina. They drive to the dock and escape on a cabin cruiser, with the wrestlers in pursuit. However, the boat suddenly disappears. Rina finds herself in a strange place inhabited by men in silver jumpsuits. The leader, who is reclining on a yellow chaise lounge, asks her why she was associating with the spies. She tells him that she infiltrated the gang to see if they knew anything about her missing father. The leader tells her she can never return to the "surface world," and says "take her to be purified!"

Back on the surface, a yacht arrives with the fake Princess, who is the target of an assassin's bullet, that instead kills one of her bodyguards. Soreida and two assistants are greeted at the airport by Santo and his friends. The head spy takes photos of Soreida at a karate demonstration, which he compares with a photo album of the "royal family of Irania," and realizes that the supposed Princess is a double. It's too late for the stand-in, however, as she is murdered by another spy in her hotel room. The head spy kills one of Soreida's associates, then escapes by helicopter.

Later, the spies attack and shoot Soreida's bodyguards (miraculously missing Santo, Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras and Soreida, who are standing right next to them). Soreida manages to hold the two remaining female spies at bay until she is rescued ; the prisoners reveal the location of the spies' headquarters, and the three wrestlers go there (Santo in his blue Cadillac convertible, Mil Máscaras in his gold Mercedes, and Blue Demon in his red Corvette). After a battle, they triumph. However , the head spy is still free, and he tries to kill Soreida, but she is saved at the last moment by Mil Máscaras (there is a very slight hint of a romance between Soreida and Mil Máscaras).

Meanwhile, Rina has been purified, by wearing a bikini and standing in a water fountain. She is overjoyed to see her father: he was brought to the secret city by the scientists who created it. They have been choosing select surface people and bringing them down, since they are convinced the Earth is doomed. Rina admits she misses Santo.

The treaty is signed, and Soreida boards her yacht to go home. Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Máscaras go along for the ride. But as the boat sails, the strange beacon rises from the sea...

"And they were never seen again," Ramiro finishes. He adds: "The predictions of the apocalypse are coming true. The end of the world is near." The film ends with footage of an atomic explosion.

Despite some interesting ideas--although the spy and Bermuda Triangle plots aren't that well integrated--Misterio is rather disappointing. Santo is definitely the star, but even he doesn't have that much footage--more time is spent on the spies and their machinations than on the heroes' activities. Mil Máscaras, as noted above, has a few individualistic touches (he even takes his mask off twice, although as usual only the back of his head is shown), but Blue Demon is left completely out of things. There isn't much action, some of the photography is disappointingly dark, much of the dialogue seems to have been post-dubbed (not just the wrestlers), and the locations (the film was shot in Texas, including South Padre Island) somehow don't lend themselves to a fantasy film, being all too clearly "real" and contemporary (in contrast, El puño de la muerte and La furia de las karatecas, shot in Florida, make good use of their locations).

On the positive side, Silvia Manríquez looks great, particularly in her skimpy bikinis, and Gaynor Kote (actually Coté, and previously seen in El investigador Capulina) is an interesting performer and should have been used more frequently. She demonstrates some martial arts ability, and is also an attractive young woman. And, to be fair, some aspects of the film are technically adequate: for example, scenes of the metallic beacon rising from the sea and the storms it creates (assembled from stock footage) are smoothly put together.

Not boring or exceptionally bad, but definitely a lesser effort.


Reviews by dw45@umail.umd.edu