Thursday, October 8, 2009


While we're staying in the action genre here, I thought we'd lighten it up a bit once again and check out some lucha films. Can you believe I made it a whole week before reviewing one? Actually, I thought a lot about which ones I wanted to review, and the next few should give a nice look into the subgenre I think.

I included 2 posters, because the first one is awesome and I wish that shit was in the movie, but the second one is much more accurate!

Original Title: Santo el enmascardo de plata vs la invasión de los marcianos
Year: 1967
Director: Alfredo B. Crevenna
Writer: Rafael García Travesi
Genre: Lucha/Sci-Fi

The masked wrestler battles Martians intent on taking over the Earth.

Actually, it's pretty much that simple. A lot of these films are.

El Santo (real name Rodolfo Guzman Huerta) was like the Hulk Hogan of Mexico, only his film career wasn't a stinky floater. Well, I guess that depends on who you ask, but over 50 films spanning 20 years speaks somewhat to success I would say. Santo was a wrestler for almost 30 years before even starting his movies, having his first professional match at the age of 16 in 1934. In the 1950s, he was featured in a weekly photo-style comic book where he battled mad scientists and monsters, which is what gained him is hero notoriety and was obviously the basis for his multitude of science fiction and horror films to follow.

He became legendary in Mexico over the years in a hero in ways it seems.

And he never removed that mask in public until 1982!

Check out this informative site about Santo and other famous luchadores Santo and Friends

Santo vs. The Martian Invasion was at the tail end of the black and white 50s-style monster lucha films. You will see what I mean about it feeling very 1950s. While being generally well shot, the costumes and special effects all feel very throwback. The vintage style handmade flying saucer sets that mood instantly as we get a voice over explaining the nuclear age and inhabitants of other planets becoming worried that humans will destroy the entire solar system.

Plot elements of this story, while simple, are just hilariously cheesy and don't make much sense. They speak to one another in Spanish because they were landing in Mexico, a pacifist country that would be an ideal place to spread their message... that they will kill everyone on Earth if they don't stop their violent ways.


Unfortunately for the Martians, by choosing Mexico and presenting their message on television, they choose a country with an evident superhuman wrestler who sits watching television shirtless with a mask and cape and will not stand for a bunch of dirty Martians rolling in and stinking up the joint.

I was really going to make a joke about Santo's TV watching attire, but I kind of did the same exact thing today, minus the cape.

I'm not lying...

There's nothing much do go into detail with in this film outside of the standard lucha elements of this time, and specific elements that just bring a smile to my face. It has a The Day The Earth Stood Still thing going on at times, but much simpler. Martians teleport in, Santo does wrestling moves, Martians teleport out to lick their wounds, rinse and repeat... pretty basic stuff. But the fun stuff peeks in and out and makes this unique.

I mean, the guy is a pro wrestler. And pro wrestling saves the world! That's gotta account for something. He teaches shirtless kids how to wrestle with class and dignity. His logic to hold a match in an empty arena to attract aliens is hilarious and obviously an excuse to get another match in the movie.

There is a genius professor who of course has fog spewing test tubes, those crazy 50s scientist machines with the 2 antennas that the little bolt of electricity travels upward between, and he can invent gadgets for any occasion. No sweat! Santo keeps up with him in all the science talk of course.

The Martians are the most fun of all. While being able to just zap the shit out of everyone with their forehead eyeball, think it best to study the best elements of the culture to reproduce a utopia. I guess Mars isn't getting the job done? When they aren't fucking up at every opportunity to capture Santo, they stand around with their magiv TV watching what everyone is up to. And I love that the Martian men all know wrestling moves!

My favorite Martian plan is disguising themselves as humans as not to cause a panic. Sounds logical, right? Oh, but get this. Instead of picking some nice suits and dresses from their "transformation chamber," they think it best to wear loincloths and adopt names of Greek mythology like Argos and Hercules. Remember when Wile E. Coyote could speak in later Road Runner cartoons and would say "Well, back to the old drawing board?" I think that may apply here.

The best part of this is that when they actually go out of their ship, they are back to wearing their Martian outfits anyway, just minus the big square helmet with the eyeball of death on the forehead. What the fuck happened to the foil circles and loincloths??

None of the actors do a particularly nice job. Honestly, there's not much need to even single any one of them out besides Santo himself.

You get a lot of the rubbing the chin to denote deep thought, nodding when the thought becomes clear, etc. Santo no-sells every fucking attack thrown at him! I wonder if that guy was a pain in the ass to wrestle. This motherfucker is worse than Hulk Hogan's Hulking up at the end of his matches when he would just shake his head and absorb punches. Santo gets the shit kicked out of him the entire movie and never even looks damaged!

Oh, I forgot it's because he's the best wrestler in the world. (A fact they point out multiple times)

There are better shot, better acted, better paced, more exciting lucha films out there. I picked this one mainly because of it's timing. The next Santo film I will review came out the same year (1967) and is quite a bit different as you will see. It makes an interesting contrast as I think Santo is shown in a light not seen for him before.

Plus... no monsters!

Santo Contra La Invasion de los Marcianos is fun. It has lots of wrestling-filled fights, corny special effects with fog and fading people, crazy costumes, suspension of belief, and there's even a traditional mask vs. mask lucha fight which are a staple in reality.

And I like the innocence of this movie. It's kid-safe and just gives me a real sense of nostalgia, and I can appreciate that. I've watched some trash lately! I could see myself as a child enjoying this on one of the old public access channels from the antenna late one night.

Oh, and did I mention it's about a masked professional wrestler that uses head scissors and head butts to defeat a potential invasion by aliens with big square golden heads that can disintegrate people simply by looking at them?

Score: 6 / 10

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