8/31/08

Viva Santo!


Good Evening Moonies! The Lightning Bug is in the house again with another cult movie review. This time it's something near and dear to my heart. A masked man. As I myself have a variety of masks I like to wear, I know that masked men always have an honest face. They don't come much more honest than the fellow in tonight's flick so lets get ready to rumble sports fans cause here's Santo!

Sampson in the Max Museum aka Santo en el museo de cera (1963) starring Samson (Santo), Claudio Brook, Norma Mora, Rubén Rojo, and Roxana Bellini. Directed by Alfonso Corona Blake and Manuel San Fernando (english translation).


Santo is your average guy/superhero wrestler/ crime fighter in Mexico, and there are several movies that detail his adventures. However only three of them were ever dubbed and released in the United States where Santo's name was changed to Sampson. In this flick which takes some plot elements from House of Wax , we meet Doctor Karol (Claudio Brook) a proprietor of a famous Wax Museum. Susan (Norma Mora) has been sent there by a magazine she works for to take some pictures. She goes around looking at the wax figures of Gandhi and Gary Cooper; then down to the basement where the monster figures are. Several of these figures are actually actors standing very still for their screen time. Down in the basement we see Frankenstein's Monster, some kind of Wolf man, and The Phantom of the Opera among others.

The next day Susan comes back for more pictures and gets the heebie jeebies from the Doc. As she's leaving she's attacked by a guy that looks a but like a Mexican Vincent Price (or Charlton Heston when he played a Mexican in Touch of Evil). Soon the Doc who's coming under suspicion of kidnapping her by the police and Susan's sister, goes to his friend Professor Halpin who can contact Santo via some tin foil radars and ultra modern TV set. When he does, we get our first real look at our hero doing his thing. Wrestling! Yes, we get to sit though a whole 1960's Lucha Libre match between Santo and Cave Man Joe. This happens again later with another match and is what really makes the film an overlong 90 minutes.


Santo of course agrees to do the job and goes to talk to Dr. Karol. While Santo is there, someone throws a knife at Doctor Karol and Santo chases him out for another fight scene where naturally Santo wins but the assassin escapes). Santo gets on the job examining a threatening letter Dr. Karol recieved only to find its on the letterhead of his friend Professor Halpin, but when Santo goes to confront the Prof he's gone with only a tape to let Santo know he's going to the Wax Museum. Santo goes to investigate, but doesn't really have time since its time to wrestle again! (Note to self:Heroic Mexican wrestlers will help you, but remember they are on a tight schedule.)


Meanwhile while Santo is off winning his match. Professor Halpin gets dumped into a pot of boiling wax after hearing Dr. Karol's plans to create a race of wild animal-men to rule the world. In face Susan has been brought to him so he can make her into Panther Girl. Santo does a bit more investigating and all the evidence leads to Dr. Karol, but first, yep you guessed it, time to wrestle. After some nonsense about faking Santo's death and getting even more evidence on Dr. Karol (really how much evidence does a Superhero Wrestler need!), Santo finally breaks into the Wax Museum and has a fight with Dr. Karol's flunky, the Mexican Vincent Price, and the Frankenstein Monster. Eventually, of course, Santo saves Susan and the day. He then waves at the audience happily and drives off in his white sports car so he can stop evil or wrestle another day.

Overall, if you haven't seen a Mexican wrestler movie you might want to check it out. Its even fun to sit through one of the matches, but if you cut them out and the endless preening and retelling of his plans by Dr Karol, then you don't have a whole lot left. So check it out at your own peril. It's definitely a singular thing and you got to give it up for a man with an honest face like that. I'm also going to leave you with the video for MF Doom and Ghostface Killer's "The Mask" which is made with scenes from a later Santo picture. Viva los Moonies, Bug transmission out.

Bug Rating

3 comments:

  1. I've seen Samson vs. the Vampire Women, so I guess I've already got my fill on Mexican Wrestling films, but is it sad to say that your review of this piques my interest?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wouldn't call it sad. It borders on insane though.

    Nah seriously, Luchador films are always fun, but when weighted down with long matches like this one detracts from the silly goodness.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, I've been accused of insanity before. Nothing new. :)

    ReplyDelete

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