Thursday, May 12, 2022



PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*

It's hard to hate a film whose title gives one the image of the masked wrestler-hero swimming around some vampire's treasure-vault as if he (the wrestler) were a south-of-the-border version of Scrooge McDuck. Still, at least this effort is lively in its absurdities, in comparison with the thoroughly dull Santo films of the period, such as the 1974 encounter of the Silver Mask and his blue buddy with a Frankenstein wannabe. Adding to the craziness of the official release version of this film is the knowledge that its director shot a slightly softcore version of the film for release in liberal Europe. I've not seen the alternate film, usually titled THE VAMPIRE AND SEX, but it goes a way toward explaining why there's so little interaction between Santo and Dracula in the regular release version.

The wackiest idea in the whole movie is not that Santo and his friends want to travel back in time to what I think was meant to be Mexico in the 1800s-- but that Santo himself is responsible for inventing the time machine. Because the masked man's goals are noble-- he wants to find the lost treasure of Dracula in order to endow a children's hospital-- one of Santo's elderly male colleagues volunteers to be the machine's first test subject. But no, demurs the Silver Mask, he needs to send back a woman, apparently because he has handy a silver bodysuit the volunteer can wear in the time machine, and the professor just wouldn't have looked good in that. The professor's daughter Luisa-- who may or may not be Santo's girlfriend, it's hard to tell-- volunteers, puts on the silver bodysuit, and steps into the past. Also, while this goes on, a mysterious man in a black hood, later given the name of "the Black Hood," skulks around, clearly planning to heist the treasure. 

However, though Luisa's present-day body disappears, she apparently merges with the Luisa of the 1800s, who is the daughter of a Professor Soler. Apparently past-Luisa is already being vampirized by Soler's neighbor, the revealingly named Count Alucard. Alucard has already decided that he wants to marry Lisa even though he has a whole entourage of scantily-clad vampire vixens-- in other words, it's "the Mina Syndrome," which might be expressed as, "the Seductive Vampire Likes ME Best of All." Professor Soler engages a vampire hunter to rescue Luisa, but she's already been turned, so the hunter has to stake first the Count, and then Luisa-- though Santo yanks present-day Luisa back to the present.

I confess I don't remember the details of how this time-jaunt helped Santo find Dracula's treasure, but one online review claims that Present-Day Luisa came back bearing a ring with a map to the current location of the riches. The Black Hood sics some of his goons on Santo, and of course Santo beats them. Then the evildoer challenges the hero to fight his strongest thug Atlas in the ring, just so none of Santo's fans miss him having a ring-fight. 

Despite Santo winning his battle, the  Black Hood tries to claim the treasure first, leading to a confrontation (but not a fight) between the Silver Mask and the Bloody Count. Dracula is destroyed and the children's hospital gets its funding.

One note: though a lot of these films include a tedious comedy relief, often some guy who has the temerity to be scared of monsters, I liked the goofy comedian here better than most of them. Not that I'd go out of my way to see his other films, but that's another minor plus-mark for this thoroughly wacky romp.

No comments:

Post a Comment