Santo en el tesoro de Drácula [Santo in the Treasure of Dracula]

(Cinematográfica Calderón, 1968) Prod: Guillermo Calderón Stell; Dir: René Cardona [Sr.]; Scr: Alfredo Salazar; Photo: Raúl Martínez Solares; Music Dir: Sergio Guerrero; Prod Mgr: Roberto G. Rivera; Prod Chief: Alfredo Chavira; Sub-Dir: Manuel Muñoz; Film Ed: José W. Bustos; Art Dir: Salvador Lozano Mena; Decor: Carlos Cortéz; Makeup: María del Castillo; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Sound: Eduardo Arjona, Galdino Samperio; Sound Ed: José Li-Ho; Eastmancolor; Union: STPC

CAST: Santo (himself), Aldo Monti (Count Drácula), Noelia Noel (Luisa), Roberto G. Rivera (Dr. Kur), Carlos Agosti (Dr. César Sepulveda), Alberto Rojas (Perico), Pili González (Paquita), Jorge Mondragón (Prof. Soler), Fernando Mendoza (Prof. Van Roth), Javier Rizo (Dandy?), Carlos Suárez (Ratón), Víctor Manuel González (Atlas?), Guillermo Hernández "Lobo Negro" (wrestler X), Roberto Y. Palacios (José , gardener), Gina Moret (Lupe, maid); vampire women?: Jéssica Rivano, Diana Arriaga, Magali, Sonia Aguilar, Paulette

Mexico City release: July 1969; 4 week run; Authorization: A

Spanish release data: Authorization date: 27 February 1971; Total spectators: 318,848.

NOTES: This is one of the more notorious Santo films, but primarily because it exists in a version entitled El vampiro y el sexo which contains nude scenes. Unlike some of the other "nude versions" of Mexican films which are known by reputation only, photos from El vampiro y el sexo are easy to come by. The nude-scenes version itself, no, but photos, yes. (One of the few "nude versions" readily available is Night of the Bloody Apes, the English-dubbed version of El horripilante bestia humana) In fact, most tapes of Santo en el tesoro de Drácula that exist are in black-and-white, rather than the Eastmancolor original (I have a French-dubbed copy in color, but this is still sans nudity)

Alfredo Salazar was one of the most notorious recyclers among Mexican screenwriters, and Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el hombre lobo borrows ideas and even whole scenes from this picture. However, an even closer "remake" was La venganza de la Llorona, another Calderón film, but Salazar didn't even receive screen credit this time! Of course, Tesoro also borrows parts of its plot from Salazar's earlier Las luchadoras contra la momia (especially the part about a wrestling match to determine ownership of an artefact which reveals the location of a hidden treasure) ! Santo en el tesoro de Drácula isn't a really bad film, but it is seriously flawed structurally: the period sequence (without Santo--Rafael García Travesí seemed to have the patent on the "colonial-era" Santo character) is a fairly straightforward (and decently-done) version of "Dracula" (using the original novel and previous vampire films as "inspiration"), but the transition to the contemporary plot is very clumsy and Dracula's reappearance is even more contrived and abrupt. And talk about contrived, the sole "arena" wrestling scene in this film comes about as a result of the lamest excuse one can possibly imagine.

Santo, demonstrating a scientific ability we haven't seen before, has invented a time machine. With the aid of his friend Dr. Sepulveda, he shows it to a group of scientists. But, since he hasn't tested it, they scoff. Afterwards, Santo expresses his anger, and Dr. Sepulveda offers to be the test pilot. Santo says no, it would be too risky and he might need Sepulveda's help. Santo's cowardly assistant Perico refuses to go. Besides, Santo says, the ideal subject would be a young woman. Luisa, Sepulveda's daughter (and the only woman we've seen within a mile of the lab), takes the hint and volunteers. Soon, dressed in a silver space suit, she steps into the machine (which has a spiral design, indicating that Santo was a fan of the "Time Tunnel" TV series). In a nice (if incongruous) shot, Luisa (now wearing a nightgown) falls (in slow motion) out of space into a large, luxurious bed in a 19th-century bedroom.

Professor Van Roth arrives to consult with Prof. Soler, Luisa's father. Soler says Luisa has been suffering from exhaustion and anemia lately, and has two small punctures on her neck. If this wasn't suspicious enough, Soler's new neighbor stops by, a foreign nobleman named "Count Alucard."

Back in his subterranean hideout, the Count creates some new converts: first he bites them, then he stabs them, then he stamps them on the neck with his signet ring. In a cloud of smoke, they turn into bats and fly off in search of prey. Dracula stops off to bite Luisa again. Meanwhile, Van Roth is experimenting with the name "Alucard," and discovers that--held up to the mirror--it spells "Dracula"! The Count himself appears and smashes the mirror (since he doesn't cast a reflection, he doesn't care much for them), but is chased off when Van Roth brandishes a sprig of mandragora bush. Luisa is given a necklace of the anti-vampire herb to wear, but Dracula hypnotizes the maid, who promptly removes it. Luisa is now free to leave with Dracula. He shows her a coffin full of the gold and jewels (the "treasure" of the title).

Meanwhile, Soler and Van Roth--in a scene taken from Bram Stoker's original novel--take time out to stake another vampire woman. Using a dog, they track Dracula and Luisa to the grotto where their coffins lie (Luisa, having been bitten three times, is now a full-fledged vampire and can even turn into a bat). Dracula gets the stake treatment, but before Luisa can be hammered, Santo (who has been watching the whole story on a TV set) brings her back to the present (unfortunately, this is depicted by running her original, slow-motion arrival in reverse, which is not only silly, it breaks continuity, since this time she's lying in a coffin in a cave, not in her bedroom).

A black-hooded figure has been spying on the entire experiment. He wants that coffin full of gold, and tells his gang that they should keep a close eye on Santo and the others, but don't kill them. Santo, still smarting at his rejection by the scientific community, says he can prove that his time machine works if he can find Dracula's treasure. Luisa isn't crazy about this idea, but they go to Dracula's crypt and take a medallion from his chest (it apparently contains a clue to the location of the gold). Black Hood and his gang--including his son, wrestler Atlas--follow, and a fight breaks out. In all of the confusion, Santo forgets to take Dracula's ring, which contains another part of the puzzle. The Black Hood and his gang promptly take possession of the ring. In a confrontation with the crooks, Santo refuses to give up the medallion. Dr. Sepulveda proposes that Santo wrestle Atlas, winner take all, and the Hood agrees.

Two weeks later, Santo beats Atlas and the Hood hands over Dracula's ring. However, he's made a copy, and then he gets the brilliant idea to revive Dracula and use him to find the treasure (or at least retrieve his missing jewelry). So, the stake is removed from the vampire's corpse. Dracula goes to Sepulveda's house, where little Paquita (an orphan whom Luisa has adopted) has been playing with the medallion. As he steals it from the sleeping girl, Dracula spots Luisa and recognizes her as his long-lost mate. He hypnotizes her and they leave, thrashing some of the Hood's gangsters and Sepulveda's gardener as they go. The gardener tells Santo, and he sets off with Perico and Sepulveda; the Hood and his men follow, and eventually force Santo's car to stop. After a fight, the police arrive and arrest the crooks. The Hood is exposed as Dr. Kur, one of the scientists who doubted Santo's time machine.

Santo, Perico and Sepulveda go to Dracula's hideout. The vampire has reconstituted his corps of vampire women (he says they were dormant during the period he was staked), and is preparing to bite and stab Luisa. Dracula traps Santo and his friends with a net, but suddenly a huge hole opens in the roof of the grotto, and the sunlight kills Dracula and his crew. Wrestler X, Santo's friend, had been alerted by Santo on his wrist radio (earlier we'd seen Santo give him one), and had blown open the roof with dynamite. When X and his wrestler friends ask about the "danger" Santo had been in, they're shown the pitiful remnants of a few bats on the floor. This isn't too impressive, and they leave, probably thinking Santo is a little screwy. Santo, Luisa, Perico, and Sepulveda also depart.

Santo en el tesoro de Drácula is satisfactory about half the time--sadly, this is mostly the time when Santo isn't even present (the period Dracula sequence)! The contemporary scenes and plot are contrived and slipshod. Aldo Monti is OK as Dracula: he looks right and acts suavely, although he really doesn't have too much to do (particularly in the modern sequence). Noelia Noel, who didn't have an especially stellar film career, is attractive and a competent actress, although again she's not given too much opportunity to display this. Alberto "Caballo" Rojas handles the comic relief chores about as well as one would expect (at least he's better than Carlos Suárez was in some later Santo adventures): in one scene, "Lobo Negro" demonstrates some wrestling holds on the spindly comedian, and when Santo and Lobo Negro leave the gym, they step on him ! Everyone else is adequate. The production values are OK but not elaborate, and Cardona's direction is routine and not too atmospheric.

A mid-range Santo picture.

Review posted 22 Feb 98 by, revised 19 January 2000.