Santo vs the Vampire Women (1962)

Rating:

aka Samson Vs. the Vampire Women (Santo Vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro)

Mexico. 1962.

Crew

Director – Alfonso Corona Blake, Screenplay – Alfonso Corona Blake & Rafael Garcia Travesi, Story – Antonio Orellana, Fernando Oses & Rafael Garcia Travesi, Producer – Alberto Lopez, Photography (b&w) – Jose Ortiz Ramos, Music – Raul Lavista, Special Effects Supervisor – Juan Muñoz Ravelo, Makeup – Roman Juarez, Production Design – Roberto Silva. Production Company – Filmadora Panamericana S.A

Cast

Santo [Rodolfo Guzman Huerta] (Himself), Lorena Velazquez (Queen Zorina), Ofelia Montesco (Tunda), Maria Duval (Diana Orlof), Augusto Benedico (Professor Orlof), Jaime Fernandez (Inspector Carlos Andrade), Javier Loya (Jorge), Alejandro Cruz (Black Mask)


Plot

The vampire priestess Tunda is raised from the dead after two hundred years. She calls upon the powers of the moon to turn her and her vampire sisters from hideous old hags into beautiful women again. She sends the other vampire women forth to obtain blood. With this, they are able to affect the resurrection of the vampire queen Zorina. They then set about finding the incarnation of Rebeca, the woman that would have been Zorina’s successor two hundred years ago until they were foiled by vampire hunters. This is Diana Orlof who is about to turn twenty-one in three days time. Diana’s father Professor Orlof is aware that the bat-shaped birthmark on Diana’s shoulder means that she is destined to become the new vampire queen as she turns of age. He calls upon the masked wrestler Santo to fight off Zorina and her vampire minions as they come for Diana.


El Santo (The Saint in English) is considered the most famous of all Mexican wrestlers. Born Rodolfo Guzman Huerta in 1917, Santo began wrestling in the 1930s, becoming a lucha libre (masked wrestler) and putting on the trademark silver costume and mask to first appear under the name El Santo in 1942. He gained a huge amount of fame on the Mexican wrestling circuit, eventually becoming regarded as a national hero. Santo made his final appearance in the ring in 1982 at the age of 65 and died two years later in 1984. Both his son and grandson have continued on as Son of Santo and Grandson of Santo.

El Santo (or more often just Santo)’s real fame however began with a series of B movies, beginning in 1958 with The Evil Brain (1958) and The Infernal Men (1958) – although in these, he was merely sidekick to another wrestler El Incognito. Santo’s career as a movie superhero began proper with Santo vs the Zombies/Invasion of the Zombies (1961). Although Santo was not the first of these Mexican wrestling heroes, it was with his films that popularised the idea of combining wrestlers with fantastic elements to in effect turn them into superheroes. While other wrestlers of this era such as Neutron, Blue Demon (a frequent collaborator with Santo), Mil Mascaras, Superzan and the tag team the Wrestling Women had successful careers in this vein, Santo was the most prolific. His superheroic exploits have had him regularly combatting vampires (including Count Dracula on several occasions), both Dr Frankenstein and his monster, mad scientists, mummies, werewolves and alien invaders, among many others, where he was usually pitted up against the respective monsters in the ring.

Santo would appear in a total of 52 films (see below for full listing of these). Santo vs the Vampire Women is the most famous of these and only one of four of his films that have been released to theatres translated into English. In the US, it was renamed Samson vs. the Vampire Women where there was a clear effort to market it as one of the Italian muscleman efforts that were popular in the 1960s after the success of Hercules (1958), during which there were a number of copycat Samson films also made.

Here Santo has been combined with the B vampire movie. Vampire movies were on the rise in the early 1960s, thanks to the revival sparked by Hammer’s Dracula in the late 1950s. Vampire cinema was always popular in Latin America beginning with the Spanish-language Dracula (1931) made by Universal at the same time as the Bela Lugosi version. Mexico soon adapted the vampire film to their own ends – with efforts like German Robles’s The Vampire (1958) and The Vampire’s Coffin (1958) and the Nostradamus series of films also with German Robles, along with other works of the era like The Living Coffin (1959), The World of the Vampires (1961), The Bloody Vampire (1962), Bring Me the Vampire (1963), Invasion of the Vampires (1963) and The Empire of Dracula (1967). Here Alfonso Corona Blake conducts a vigorous copy of the B vampire film of that period. The film has a crudely effective atmosphere to it, which even occasionally rises to something imaginative – like the scene where Maria Duval is playing piano and a bat appears at the window, unconsciously drawing her towards it. We do get obvious bats on wires effects. It should also be noted that Santo vs the Vampire Women serves up some of the most beautiful vampire women to grace any vampire film during this era.

The main problem is that Santo and the vampire film are odd cousins. Santo is a very physical character based around his brute strength and wrestling skill, while the vampire is supernatural in nature. When the two meet, his immediate response is to engage the male vampire slaves in wrestling matches, which only serves to reduce the vampire’s customary aura of mystery to a very mundane level. (He is gentleman enough never to wrestle the female vampires even though they are the predominant threat). There is some vague nonsense about Santo being an incarnation of good destined to defeat the vampires according to a scroll but for all that, he never appears on screen much and never seems crucial to the vampire events happening at the forefront until the very end. Even at the climax, the vampire women are driven away by sunlight not Santo’s strength, although there is a good subsequent scene where he goes through their crypt setting their coffins alight with a burning torch.

Santo does appear in several wrestling matches throughout but these are unexceptional as though all that the filmmakers had done was turned a camera on one of Santo’s bouts in the ring. All of the action is seen with the camera on the ring in wide angle, which never closes into closeup on the combatants or their moves, something that proves more akin to watching televised sport than dramatically interesting action. The film’s most surreal moment is when Santo faces off against his opponent Black Mask, unaware that one of the vampires has taken the real wrestler’s place. At the end of the match, he defeats and unmasks Black Mask, only to be faced by a werewolf.

The other Santo films (all being genre films unless stated) are:- The Evil Brain/Santo vs the Evil Brain (1958), The Infernal Men (1958), Santo vs the Zombies/Invasion of the Zombies (1961), Santo vs the King of Crime (non-genre, 1961), Santo in the Hotel of Death (1961), Santo vs the Diabolical Brain (1962), Santo in the Wax Museum (1963), Santo vs the Strangler (1963), Santo vs the Ghost of the Strangler (1963), a cameo appearance in Blue Demon vs Satanic Power (1964), Santo in the Attack of the Witches/The Witches Attack (1964), The Diabolical Axe (1964), Santo in Grave Robbers (1965), Baron Brakola (1965), Santo and the Villains of the Ring (non-genre, 1966), Operation 67 (1966), Santo in the Treasure of Moctezuma (1967), Santo vs the Martians (1967), Santo and the Treasure of Dracula (1968), Santo vs Capulia (1968), Santo vs Blue Demon in Atlantis (1969), Santo and Blue Demon vs the Monsters (1969), Santo and Blue Demon in the World of the Dead (1969), Santo vs the Headhunters (1969), Santo Faces Death/Santo vs the Mafia Killers (non-genre, 1969), Santo vs the Terror Riders (1970), Santo and the Vengeance of the Vampire Women (1970), Santo vs the Mafia of Vice (1970), Santo in the Vengeance of the Mummy (1970), The Mummies of Guanjuato (1970), The Royal Eagle (1971), Santo in “Killers from Other Worlds” (1971), Santo in the Mystery of the Black Pearl (1971), Santo vs Frankenstein’s Daughter (1971), Suicide Mission (non-genre, 1971), Santo and Blue Demon vs the Wolfman (1972), Santo vs the Kidnappers (1972), Santo vs Black Magic (1972), The Beasts of Terror (1972), Santo vs the She-Wolves (1972), Anonymous Death Threat (non-genre, 1972), Santo and Blue Demon vs Dr Frankenstein (1973), Santo vs Dr Death/Santo Strikes Again (1973), Santo in the Mystery of the Black Pearl (1974), Santo in the Revenge of the Crying Woman (1974), Santo in Black Gold (1975), The Bermuda Mystery (1977), Santo at the Border of Terror (1979), Santo vs the TV Killer (1981), a cameo appearance in Chanoc and Son of Santo vs the Vampire Killers (1981), The Fist of Death (1982) and Fury of the Karate Killers (1982). Son of Santo has also appeared in five films. (An excellent article detailing each of the films can be found here at (Re)search My Trash).


Full English language version of the film here:-


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