Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro
Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro aka Samson vs. the Vampire Women 1962
It’s probably not too surprising that I occasionally bite off a little bit more than I can chew. And/or I am a very absent minded person and will easily forget things if I get distract- Squirrel! A few weeks ago, I agreed to take part in a blogathon hosted by Movies Silently called Accidentally Hilarious where bloggers would take a look at classic bad films that are so bad they are hilarious even though they were never intended to be comedies. There wasn’t a lot for me to choose from, and many of those early superhero films are hard to find, or are Batman which is an intentional comedy and also is just one year after the cutoff date of 1965. So I chose this film which is part of a long line of Santo films. This one is probably the most famous of them as it’s one of the only ones that got an English language dub and was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Santo is a Luchador superhero who may or may not actually have superhuman strength, but does occasionally battle supernatural forces of evil. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and check out other Santo movies, especially after watching this one. And while I did watch the English dub of this movie where he is constantly referred to as Samson, I will be referring to him as his original Spanish name, Santo.
For a movie that has the main character’s name in the title of the movie, it actually takes quite a long time before Santo ever shows up. It’s over twenty minutes into the movie before the Professor makes a video call to Santo’s lair to leave a voicemail. Meanwhile, Santo is busy having a tag team wrestling match, which we get to see for a full ten minutes. In fact, it’s such an odd and slow point in the movie that it was cut out of the MST3K version. Santo doesn’t even win the match himself, his partner gets the pin. And yet, it’s still Santo who gets raised up by the crowds. He’s also the only wrestler out of the four who is even wearing a mask. It’s not until later on in the movie where we get to see another wrestler wearing a mask, and that’s really only because it’s one of the vampire’s man slaves poses as the other masked wrestler in order to fight Santo. Even just Santo himself feels completely out of place in this movie. He wears his Luchador mask, cape, and tights everywhere he goes but no one has any issues with it and treats it as being completely normal. I also think it’s fairly hilarious that the vehicle he uses to get around is a tiny little roadster.
As far as unintentional hilarious goes, this movie does have it in small doses. The biggest source of unintentional hilarity comes from the awful English dub. It seems like the original Spanish was directly translated rather than localized so there is plenty of overly literal moments and lack of contractions. It all sounds like people just reading from a script rather than acting, and they are also trying to fit the speeches into the moments where the characters are moving their mouths, but there is obviously no attempt made at matching the movement of the lips. Instead, it feels like the director knows that a character’s mouth will be moving for, say 6 seconds, and the voice actor then has to fit their dialogue into that same 6 seconds. Another point of unintentional hilarity comes from the way that the vampires try to sell the fact that they are vampires. They do this by wearing capes and stretching their arms out with their capes as if they are pretending to be airplanes. It makes me laugh every single time it happens, and it happens often.
The actual plot of the movie is fairly inconsequential, there are the vampire women, and the vampire men, and some weird shadow lord demon. But mainly they’re these vampires with dry skin and bad hair, but they say a few words and one of them becomes beautiful. The rest of them need to pass around a goblet of human blood so they can also be beautiful. And it all comes about so that they can sacrifice the descendant of some woman for reasons. And it also just so happens that Santo is the descendant of the hero who stopped them last time around. Of course, all of the plot in this movie is spoonfed to the audience through slowly paced exposition in between wrestling style fights with the vampires and actual wrestling matches in a ring, with an audience. And audience that apparently wasn’t dubbed over as they can still be heard chanting “Santo” rather than “Samson”. The visual effects are hit and miss, even considering the time it was made. There are some decent looking optical transitions to transform the vampires into bats or from ugly to beautiful, but the bats themselves are obviously rubber bats held up by strings. The quality of the film also hasn’t held up very well and is overly dark in many places, making it hard to get a good screenshot from anywhere in the movie. In the end, I thought some of the so-bad-it’s-good moments were enjoyable, but it was way too slow paced and I did fall asleep by the end of the movie and had to backtrack after I woke up. I was tired, but this movie certainly didn’t help the situation any. It also wasn’t all that much of a superhero movie either. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.