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Masked Hero Confronts A (Smallish) Army Of RevivedCriminals
El Santo, more than any other lucha film hero, seemed to encounter the supernatural at nearly every turn. Well, maybe not quite that regularly, but in a film career then spanned three decades, he confronted more than his share of werewolves, aliens, witches and other strange foes.
In this early fantasy themed entry (one of four films made in this year), three strangely silent thieves stage a midnight raid on a jewelry shop. During the course of the theft, the night watchman shoots one of the robbers in the forehead, with no apparent effect. The bandits fend off arriving detectives and make their escape -- delivering their loot to a man in a medical tunic and a hood. It seems they are zombies -- revived criminals controlled by this sinister mastermind.
Three detectives (Armando Silvestre, Irma Serrano and Jaime Fernandez)are dispatched to investigate the disappearance of a noted professor who had recently returned from a research trip to Haiti. When the man's daughter (Lorena Velazquez, who appeared in a number of lucha films -- including a two-film stint as half of the femme wrestling duo, Las Luchadoras) appeals to the authorities for assistance, Silvestre wisely calls on Santo for help.
Santo almost instantly runs afoul of the zombie master. He thwarts the kidnapping of the female of the trio and, later, prevents the zombies from abducting children chosen as experimental subjects, from an orphanage. One particularly bizarre element to the film being that both the madman and Santo can tune each other in on closed circuit television. Santo literally watches as the fiend lays his plans.
In an attempt to put an end to this unwanted meddling (is there ever _wanted_ meddling?), the hooded fiend abducts Santo's next ring opponent (co-scripter Fernando Oses) and turns him into a killer zombie. The plan unravels when Santo managed to short circuit his control belt.
The daughter and the detectives of course end up in the madman's hands, and it's El Santo to the rescue.
Some nice, gloomy photography is the highlight of an otherwise rather basic film. There's a particularly nice sequence at the end, when Santo (who generally just rushes off once he's triumphed) slowly exits up a long and interesting metal staircase set into the madman's cave. There are some clinker shots, though. There's a poorly done use of rear projection in an exterior scene, and there's a downright goofy shot of a partly unmasked Santo goggling in shock at the zombies who had attacked him vanishing in a puff of flame.
Still, it's a fun early Santo flick, and it is available dubbed in English for those who're timid about boldly launching into original-language lucha.
7 out of 10.
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