Santo contra el asesino de la T.V. [Santo vs. the TV Killer]

(Prods. Geminis-Cinematográfica RA, 1981) Prod/Dir/Scr: Rafael Pérez Grovas; Story: David Sergio, Carlos Suárez; Photo: Alfredo Uribe; Music Dir: Rafael Carrión; Assoc Prod: Alfredo Uribe; Asst Dir: José Amezquita; Film Ed: Fernando Uribe; Camera Op: Guillermo Bravo; Makeup: Estela Sánchez; Sound Op: Consuelo Jaramillo; Re-rec: Ricardo Saldívar; Union: STIC

CAST: Santo (himself), Gerardo Reyes (Gerardo Reyes), Rubí Re (Diana), Carlos Agosti (Pedro Grandet--"Magnus"), Rosalía Montero (Brenda Durán?), Carlos Suárez (Carlitos), Jean Safon [sic] (Insp. Fierro), Nelsón Juárez, Coloso Colosetti (El Asesino del Ring), Marina Areu (Marina Laval?), Fernando Yapur (nightclub owner), Ismael Ramírez, Jesús Velázquez, Eleazar García Jr. (newspaper employee), ?--lio Santos Salazar, Roy de la Serna, Carmen Cabrales, Baltazar Ramos, José Navarrete, Francisco Cortés, Francisco Leal, Oscar Arredando Asuara, Jorge A. García Zubieta, El Polaco, El Vikingo, Johnny Barahona, El Mago Yeo (magician), Heriberto Ruiz, Carlos & Alejandro Suárez (boys watching TV?), César Valentino, Ham Lee (wrestler)

[A trivia note about the credits: thanks is given to General Arturo Durazo Moreno, presumably for his assistance in shooting in Mexico City police installations. "Negro" Durazo later became known for his rampant corruption, and several films were made about his reign as head of the police department]

Mexico City release: 9 or 10 September 1982; Authorization: A

NOTES: I cannot say I am a fan of most of Rafael Pérez Grovas' films, especially the "Chanoc" and "Hijo del Santo" movies. However, Santo contra el asesino de la T.V. is somewhat better than these--which should not be taken as an endorsement, only that it is less bad than, say, Chanoc y el Hijo del Santo contra los vampiros asesinos. The photography isn't bad, the cast is decent, the plot is at least semi-coherent, and Carlos Suárez doesn't act like a complete idiot. On the minus side, the "action" scenes aren't very exciting, there is a lot of singing (which you can of course, fast-forward through), and if the plot is semi-coherent, it still doesn't make that much sense. There are also several sequences which seem to be slightly out of continuity, or else the script was just very sloppy.

A TV broadcast featuring portly ranchera singer Gerardo Reyes is interrupted by a masked man, Magnus, who says he is going to show "an authentic criminal act," the live kidnaping of actress Marina Laval. And he does. Then he says, tune in next week for the broadcast of a jewel robbery (perhaps Magnus should go to work for the Fox network). The police are puzzled: time passes, and no ransom demand is forthcoming. Gerardo Reyes is also a newspaper reporter who attends Insp. Fierro's press conference; Pedro Grandet, another reporter, suggests that he and Gerardo pool their information.

Only wrestler-superhero Santo can help. During the broadcast, Santo and his manager Carlitos are driving back from Durango--their car radio suddenly goes haywire. Back in the city, Santo and Ham Lee team up to defeat El Escorpión and Cobra. Then they are called in by Fierro, to help with the case.

Magnus tells Marina that he was captivated by her beauty and that's why he kidnaped her. Gerardo and another man break into the house where Magnus was hiding, but the villain and his victim are gone. Gerardo reports to his editor at "El Sol de México" (a real newspaper); female reporter Diana demands to be assigned to the story, since she knows Santo and can get info from him. The editor agrees, but tells Gerardo to keep an eye on her.

Held prisoner in a cavern where Magnus has his headquarters, Marina is refusing to eat. Magnus says he doesn't really love her: Marina's mother once double-crossed him and reported him to the police for smuggling, so he had to leave Mexico. He became rich as an arms dealer, now he's back and has kidnaped Marina to make her mother suffer. If she starves herself, so much the better. Then you don't love me, she asks. "I only love Magnus!" he replies. (Despite this, he later expresses his romantic attraction to Marina once more, saying she must choose "between love and death"--either he cleverly tricked her into eating by telling her a lie about her mother, or he just couldn't make up his mind)

Magnus makes good on his boast to broadcast a jewel robbery, despite the efforts of the police to stop him. His next crime, he says, will be the kidnaping of singer Brenda Durán. Brenda moves in with Santo for protection. Diana is suspicious and maybe a little jealous. She's also mad at Gerardo for following her. On the night Brenda is supposed to be kidnaped, she performs at a nightclub. Some of Magnus's henchmen kill the lights and attack the stage, but Carlitos turns the lights back on and Santo defeats the men (this is a very lame fight--it looks more like Santo is giving a demonstration of wrestling, taking care to move slowly and not harm anyone!). However, two men dressed like cops take Brenda out of the club. A machine mounted in the rafters emits a loud noise that paralyzes Santo and Fierro. In the parking lot, Carlitos battles the fake cops so Gerardo can rescue Brenda, but Diana sneaks into the villains' car and they drive off with her instead. Magnus makes a broadcast, saying his crime was successful. Gerardo points out that this must be a tape, since Brenda was rescued. But then, apropos of nothing, Gerardo says "He has her in his power and I have to save her," presumably referring to Diana, but up to this point nobody knows she has been captured!

Later, Magnus announces that he has Diana in his power, and that Santo will die during his next match. He offers El Asesino del Ring one million pesos to kill Santo. Meanwhile, Santo and Gerardo, flying in a helicopter, have located some TV microwave dishes in the desert, near where Santo's car radio went bad during the first broadcast. They plan to return later.

That night, Santo meets El Asesino in a very brightly-lit arena in front of a couple of hundred spectators (it looks more like a high school gym than a real arena). An automatic machine gun in the rafters (Magnus likes those rafters) opens up but kills El Asesino instead of Santo, and Gerardo puts it out of commission with a pistol shot (Gerardo has admitted to Santo that in addition to being a reporter and a singer, he is also a special government agent).

Gerardo and Santo go to Magnus's hideout, knocking out a bunch of guards (well, one or two). However, Magnus threatens to kill Diana and Marina, so Santo surrenders. He is tied to a metal pole, and Magnus prepares to broadcast his death, by burning him at the stake. But one of the TV viewers is El Mago Yeo, who concentrates hard and makes the handcuffs drop off Santo's hands! (This is never explained or later alluded to.) Santo defeats the villains, aided by Diana (who knows karate) and Gerardo. [The best fight action in the picture occurs in this sequence, as Santo faces off with a martial arts expert--Johnny Barahona?--and demonstrates some nifty moves of his own. One might suspect that El Santo was doubled--by his son?--in this sequence, since he is much more active than in any other sequence.] Magnus is revealed to be Pedro Grandet. He sets off explosions which destroy his hideout, but Santo and his friends escape. The explosions are well-done, but this sequence is marred by some mis-matched shots (of Santo and his friends, an obvious exterior, and Magnus, an interior shot--even though they are supposed to be facing each other).

As the film ends, Santo, Gerardo and Carlitos join El Mago Yeo on stage for his act. Carlitos is placed into a a trunk and made to disappear.

Gerardo Reyes, who starred in a fair number of films in the late '70s and early '80s, was a decent singer and a reasonably good actor, but his pudgy face and physique were hardly that of an action hero. Rubí Re is spunky and very cute, Carlos Agosti is his usual shifty-eyed self. As noted above, Carlos Suárez cut back on his goofy sidekick shtick for once, acquitting himself heroically in the nightclub kidnaping sequence. Rosalía Montero and Marina Areu are attractive but don't have to act much, which was probably a good thing. Jean Safont gets to be a good guy, a rarity for him.

Not a terrible picture, but hardly one of Santo's best. Too much of the plot is carried by Reyes and Re, Magnus is a rather colorless villain with only some vague evil plans, and the film as a whole just isn't that interesting or entertaining.


dw45@umail.umd.edu