Monday, June 14, 2010

Las momias de Guanajuato (1972) versus Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos (1970)

First up is Federico Curiel's Las momias de Guanajuato (1972) in which cinema's greatest superhero, El Santo, is the destiny of his ancestor's opponent, 7'2'' Satan, a wrestler who sold his soul to the Lord of Darkness for fame but was thwarted by Santo's ancestor, who is now rising after a hundred years with his army of mummies to take revenge. Entering second is Gilberto Martínez Solares's Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos (1970) in which cinema's greatest superhero, El Santo, attempts to thwart the assault of evil Dr. Bruno Halder (Carlos Ancira) and his legion of monsters against Santo's girlfriend, Gloria (Hedi Blue) and her father (Jorge Rado). Santo's opponents are the resurrected mummy of Satan and The Mummy, The Wolfman, The Vampire, The Cyclops, Frankenstein's Monster, and Las mujeres vampiro, respectively. Let us see how these flicks fare in Santo fashion, two out of three falls, while keeping in mind both films sing the sad ballad of under-appreciated cinematic superhero, Blue Demon.
Federico Curiel's Las momias de Guanajuato (1972) is a curious production. While Santo is the object of the villain's, Satan's, revenge, Santo only appears in the film's final battle and in a sublime, dream sequence by Satan, where he imagines meeting Santo in the ring during their heyday. Mexican wrestling legends, Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras, carry the film's first two acts in thankless fashion. In Las momias, Satan is wandering the city and breaking various necks of unsuspecting victims. The police believe, quite correctly, that perhaps the perpetrator is a professional wrestler. Satan, in an effort to fuel the police's theory and set them off track, attacks Blue Demon in a blindsided fashion and steals his wrestling gear. Satan commands one of his mummy minions to don Blue Demon's outfit, and the police happen to witness this minion commit a murder. Blue Demon becomes the prime suspect.In Gilberto Martínez Solares's Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos (1970), Blue Demon fares far worse. Santo and Blue Demon break after the last wrestling competition to both go on vacation. Santo is looking to spend time with his girlfriend, Gloria, while Blue Demon vacations alone. Like Santo, Blue Demon pursues justice at all times; so when Blue Demon witnesses suspicious behavior at a gloomy castle atop a hill, he breaks from his vacation to investigate. Not long after entering Dr. Bruno Halder's mad-scientist laboratory, Blue Demon is subdued by one of Halder's reanimated, monstrous henchmen. After his capture, Halder duplicates Blue Demon and through mind control makes him one of his monsters. For the majority of Los monstruos, Blue Demon must fight against his friend and rival only in the ring, Santo. In a very sad scene, all of the monsters are marching up a hill back to the castle with their heads down, having suffered a merciless defeat at the two hands of Santo. Blue Demon is the last in the line and before marching on, he gives a fleeting look back at the camera with a tearful, longing look in his eye.Blue Demon may take comfort that his role(s) is not Blue Demon but a doppelganger Blue Demon. However, I would side with Blue Demon and say this is semantics. Never in the history of cinema has its iconic monsters suffered such a beating as they have in Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos. Santo ruthlessly body slams The Vampire; jumps from the driver's seat of his convertible to take down Frankenstein's monster; and attempts a monkey flip on The Mummy only to have The Mummy plunge to his death from a rooftop. The Cyclops kills a victim near a lagoon's shore, and Santo correctly identifies the perpetrator, from its tracks, as a water-based organism. Santo treks underwater to find The Cyclops's lair. When he meets the legendary, Greek mythological character, Santo is relentless. Its one eye was totally unable to see the fury of Santo's fists. Dr. Halder has to perform emergency surgery to save The Cyclops.When Santo does appear in Guanajuato in Las momias, he is aided by both Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras in the final battle against Satan and his mummy army. However, in the battle scenes (shot clumsily, by the way), Santo appears to be a one-man army unto himself. Any pipe dream that Satan may have had of revenge dissolves in minutes. When Santo is ready to end the battle, he tells Mil Máscaras to get the guns from the passenger side of his convertible. Mil Máscaras returns with three golden ray guns which emit streams of fire. Amazing.Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos is a true comic book come to life and is the superior film. The film has so many wonderful flourishes, too numerous to continue here. My favorite sequence in the film, which I have to mention, is when the classic monsters first appear in Los monstruos. Doppelganger Blue Demon and his reanimated crew investigate Dr. Halder's castle, and this investigation becomes a de facto recruitment party: they find The Vampire just chilling in a crypt; happen to open a coffin with The Mummy sleeping; and Dr. Halder melts a wall behind which is The Cyclops. Las momias de Guanajuato is b-movie fare but many of the sequences are sublime; and it is well-worth seeking out. Extremely fun movies from cinema's greatest superhero, El Enmascarado de Plata, the multitude's hero, El Santo.


Aaron said...

Excellent and funny write-up, my man! LAS MOMIAS sounds pretty amazing and it's definitely on the must-see list. You made SANTO/BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS out to be a lot awesomer than I actually found it to be. I wasn't a fan of all of the filler in the movie, like the overly long dancing and wrestling scenes. But otherwise, I thought it was pretty entertaining, and a guy in a luchador mask driving a convertible with a hot chica riding shotgun is quite possibly one of the greatest things ever filmed. My favorite scene in LOS MONSTRUOUS was actually the opening credits where the monsters are introduced, and I also thought that the vampire's brides were pretty smokin'. The Mummy (or Momia) was the most pathetic Mummy I've ever seen though.

Hans A. said...

Thnx, Aaron. Santo and Blue Demon films are certainly a guilty pleasure of mine.