Santo vs the Martians (1967)

Rating:

aka Santo the Silver Mask Vs the Martian Invasion (Santo El Enmascarado Del Plata vs “La Invasion de los Marcianos”)

Mexico. 1967.

Crew

Director – Alfredo B. Crevenna, Screenplay – Rafael Garcia Travesi, Producer – Alfonso Rosas Priego, Photography (b&w) – Jorge Stahl Jr., Music – Antonio Diaz Conde, Production Design – Francisco Marco Ch.. Production Company – Producciones Cinematograficas S.A.

Cast

Santo [Rodolfo Guzman Huerta] (Himself), Wolf Ruvinskis (Argos), Manuel Zozaya (Professor Ordorica), El Nazi (Hercules), Beni Galan (Kronos), Ham Lee (Morpheo), Maura Monti (Afrodita), Eva Norvind (Selene), Belinda Corell (Diana), Gilda Miros (Artemisia)


Plot

A saucer from Mars lands on Earth. The inhabitants take over the airwaves and announce that they are going to establish a new order that bans atomic weaponry and unites humanity without creed or borders. They decide to use Mexico as a test area. They materialise at a sports match and use their Astral Ray helmets to disintegrate the attendees en masse. Santo is present teaching children to wrestle and tackles the Martians. As the Martians begin a program of abducting people to take back to Mars, they realise that Santo is their biggest nemesis and try to find a means of defeating him.


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

El Santo (or more often just Santo)’s real fame 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 initially sidekick to another wrestler El Incognito. Santo’s movie career as a 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 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 movie careers, Santo was the most prolific and he sappeared in a total of 52 films. (See below for full listing of these).

Throughout his cinematic career, Santo fought just about every conceivable movie monster, from vampires (including Count Dracula on several occasions), both Dr Frankenstein, his monster and his daughter, mad scientists, mummies and werewolves, among many others, where he was usually pitted up against the respective monsters in the ring. With Santo vs the Martians (or to give the film its literally translated title, Santo the Silver Mask vs the Invasion of the Martians), Santo took on alien invaders. The problem for the film is the idea of trying to merge two unwieldy concepts – a masked wrestler superhero and an alien invasion film. Thus the alien invaders all come in tights and bare chests like wrestlers and for some reason appropriate the names of characters from Greek myth – the one called Hercules seems a ringer for an early version of Marvel’s Thor. It results in a shabby alien invasion film. Indeed, if the film didn’t have a 1967 date on it, you would not be amiss in mistaking it for a very low budget Hollywood alien invader film circa 1957.

The Martian invasion never seems to consist of anything more than the aliens turning up and getting into fights with Santo. Even though they demonstrate the capacity to use disintegrator weapons from a distance, they seem to forget these when they are fighting him and handily teleport away whenever he is in danger of getting the upper hand. Despite facing one man whose only superpower is his strength and wrestling skill, their entire alien invasion plan rather incredulously seems to hang on the need to defeat Santo. At one point, an essential part of the plan is to turn up, impersonate a wrestler that Santo is going up against in the ring to try and defeat him there. (The most amusing part of this scene is when the Martian wrestler seems about to defeat Santo and tears off his mask – to have his face exposed is considered the ultimate humiliation for a lucha libre wrestler – only to find that Santo is wearing another mask beneath). At another point, they teleport two Martian babes into Santo’s bedroom where he seems about to be seduced into a threesome before this is revealed to be a dream.

The film has some strange and interesting undercurrents beneath it, which are often more interesting than the rather shabby film itself is. One of these is that the alien invaders seem to come with quite laudable goals for once – they want to stop nuclear proliferation just like Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), as well as eliminate all borders and create a world without race or creed. Santo does not oppose any of this, merely the fact that they are endeavouring to use force to achieve such a goal. This would seem equally reasonable but for the glaring fact that the Santo’s sole superpower is his own brute strength ie. the only thing he has to fight against their overbearing force is the use of force itself. The film does make a point of delineating a difference in an early scene where Santo is teaching wrestling to a group of schoolboys and stops one to announce that the only time it is reasonable to use force is to defend the weak.

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 vs the Vampire Women/Samson vs. the Vampire Women (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 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).


Film online in several parts beginning here (has host introduction):-


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