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

aka

El vampiro y el sexo [The Vampire and Sex]

(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 Sepúlveda), 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); ?José Luis Carol (scientist), Mirón Levine (scientist), Enrique Pontón (scientist); vampire women: Jéssica Rivano, Diana Arriaga, Magali, Paulette; Sonia Aguilar (Mara)

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. This "nude version" was finally rediscovered in 2009 and released in 2011. A review of this version can be seen below after the original review of Santo en el Tesoro de Drácula.

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. Sepúlveda, he shows it to a group of scientists. But, since he hasn't tested it, they scoff. Afterwards, Santo expresses his anger, and Dr. Sepúlveda offers to be the test pilot. Santo says no, it would be too risky and he might need Sepúlveda's help. Santo's cowardly assistant Perico refuses to go. Besides, Santo says, the ideal subject would be a young woman. Luisa, Sepúlveda'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. Sepúlveda 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 Sepúlveda'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 Sepúlveda'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 Sepúlveda 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 Sepúlveda 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.

EL VAMPIRO Y EL SEXO REVIEW

Notes: long-coveted but feared lost, the rediscovery of El vampiro y el sexo--the "nude scenes" version of Santo en el Tesoro de Drácula-- was one of the most talked-about stories of 2011 and 2012, receiving mainstream media attention in Mexico and international interest among film fans. Viviana García Besné revealed the existence of the film in the Calderón vaults in her 2009 documentary Perdida, but the "re-premiere" of the movie scheduled for the 2011 Guadalajara Film Festival was cancelled due to opposition by El Hijo del Santo, and it wasn't until later in the year that El vampiro y el sexo was shown in select cinemas. A hoped-for DVD release did not materialise, and in 2012 the movie was shown on the "Cine Mexicano" cable channel in Mexico --and was immediately bootlegged and disseminated on the Internet (with an enterprising fan even creating English sub-titles).

For this review, I compared an "Internet version" (tagged "Cortesía de Mariachi de Corazón," a Mexican blogger) with Rise Above's DVD release of Santo en el tesoro de Drácula. My copy of El vampiro y el sexo is faux-letterboxed to hide the "Cine Mexicano" screen bug in the upper left-hand corner of the screen but--curiously--while this means a fair amount of the upper part of the screen is missing compared to the full-frame Tesoro, there is a bit more image on the bottom and the sides in Vampiro. Since the movie was not shot wide-screen, this suggests that the black-and-white TV prints of Tesoro may have been very slightly cropped.

Aside from this artificially-applied aspect ratio difference, the different main title, and the colour/black & white dichotomy, the two films are virtually identical except for the nude scenes. These are responsible for the approximately 4-minute difference in running time: Vampiro is just over 86 minutes long, while Tesoro is a bit more than 82 minutes in length.

The nude scenes actually last about 9 minutes, but some of the content overlaps with the "clothed" version. For instance, in one scene Count Drácula approaches servant Lupe, bites her neck, then commands her to follow his orders. But in Vampiro, he also takes time to open Lupe's blouse and fondle her bare breasts for a while (there is an added closeup as he bites her neck, whereas in Tesoro this is shown in long shot). Consequently, it takes a longer amount of time to advance the narrative the same distance.

There are three basic nude set-ups, presented in five different scenes. The first occurs about 18 minutes into the movie. Drácula enters his subterranean crypt, greets his primary aide Mara and some other vampire women, fondles a busty blonde and busty redhead reclining on stone slabs, bites them, and stabs them to death (they are instantly converted into vampires).

He then exposes the breasts and shoulders of his 2 new converts and their 5 companions (not including Mara), stamping their necks with his ring, leaving a bat-like tattoo. The women (including Mara) all strip completely (they are wearing skin-coloured crotch covers which actually look more obscene than pubic hair would have), turn into bats, and fly away. The same action transpires in Tesoro but, of course, everyone remains completely clothed.

The next sequence follows immediately afterwards. Drácula enters the bedroom of Luisa, fondles her bare breasts, then vanishes out of frame as she writhes in passion (clearly intimating he is performing oral sex on her), reappearing to kiss her and then bite her neck as she moans in passion. This is fairly explicit soft-core footage and some of it is repeated as a flashback later in the movie, when a resurrected Drácula reencounters Luisa in 1968.

The third instance of nude footage is the aforementioned scene with Lupe the maid. [Both Noelia Noel (Luisa) and Gina Moret (Lupe) had nude scenes in El horripilante bestia humana, also directed by René Cardona.] The fourth instance of nudity is the repeat of part of the Drácula-seduces-Luisa sequence. Finally, near the end of Vampiro, Drácula introduces an entranced Luisa to Mara and the other vampire women in the crypt, and they are fully nude (but have miraculously--perhaps magically--donned their black gowns when Santo and his friends arrive to try and save Luisa).

The nude scenes (and colour) mean El vampiro y el sexo is rather more entertaining than Santo en el tesoro de Drácula, but it is still not an especially good movie. Alfredo Salazar was one of the most notorious recyclers among Mexican screenwriters. Vampiro 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, one of the most contrived inclusions of wrestling footage in history of lucha libre films). Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el hombre lobo borrows ideas and even whole scenes from El vampiro y el sexo. However, an even closer "remake" was La venganza de la Llorona, another Calderón film, but Salazar didn't even receive screen credit this time!

El vampiro y el sexo is seriously flawed structurally: the period sequence (without Santo--Santo's first action sequence doesn't occur until more than halfway through the picture, and he's off-screen for nearly a third of the running time) 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.

Santo, demonstrating a scientific ability we haven't seen before, has invented a time machine. With the aid of his friend Dr. Sepúlveda, he shows it to a group of scientists. But, since he hasn't tested it, they scoff. Afterwards, Santo says the ideal subject would be a young woman. Luisa, Sepúlveda'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."

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--this scene is lifted from the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula), 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--track down and stake another vampire woman. Using a dog, they trail 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). Luckily, she's not a vampire anymore when she gets back to 1968.

A black-hooded figure has been spying on the entire experiment. He wants that coffer full of gold. 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. Sepúlveda 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 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 Sepúlveda'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 Sepúlveda'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 the efficacy of Santo's time machine.

Santo, Perico and Sepúlveda 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 sunlight kills Dracula and his crew. Wrestler X, Santo's friend, alerted by Santo on his wrist radio (earlier we'd seen Santo give him one), 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 Sepúlveda also depart.

Aldo Monti is OK as Drácula: 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, dressed in “mod” clothing (including a huge dollar sign hanging from a chain around his neck, perhaps inspiring future rappers like Flavor Flav), handles the comic relief chores about as well as one would expect; 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! Santo’s personality in this film is a bit odd: he’s clearly irked when the scientists scoff at his “I invented a time machine” claims, and acts (atypically) like a jerk at other times. He seems to realise this, because at the end he apologises to Luisa for not heeding her warnings about resurrecting Drácula, seeking the hidden treasure, and so forth. Furthermore, although Santo did set up the final plan to destroy Drácula and the vampire women, the actual work is done by Wrestler X, with Santo as a helpless onlooker.

The production values are adequate but not elaborate, and Cardona's direction is routine and not too atmospheric. Those who’ve only seen Santo en el tesoro de Drácula should not base their opinions of the photography, art direction, etc., on the black-and-white television print, which is much too dark (since it was converted from a colour film, and not shot b&w): the film looks much better in colour.

One curious note: Count Drácula “converts” two women into vampires by first biting them and then stabbing them to death with a ritual dagger (at the climax he’s preparing to stab Luisa with the same knife). For whatever reason, the actual stabbing is not shown—even in the nude version! Instead, Drácula raises his arm, then there is an obvious cut and he walks away from his victim.

Back to the Santo Filmography.


Review posted 22 Feb 1998 by dwilt@umd.edu, revised 19 January 2000 and again 3 July 2018.