Saturday, February 7, 2009

You should avoid these Santo movies

Of course, the fact that I compiled a list of what I consider to be the ten best Santo films doesn’t mean that those are the only Santo films worth watching. There are many other films in El Enmascarado de Plata’s oeuvre that offer plenty to enjoy. However, there are also a few that you should run away from as if your life depended on it. Because it does. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these movies could actually kill you.

The hypothetical person who actually gave a toss might be surprised to find Santo Frente a la Muerte and Santo en el Misterio de la Perla Negra, two films that I have elsewhere identified as being the absolute worst that Santo has to offer, missing from this list. The reason for that is that both of those films provide such an extravagant example of filmmaking undertaken by people who simply don’t give a fuck that I actually get kind of a perverse thrill out of them, and I suspect that there are others out there who might feel the same. Far be it from me to deprive those sick souls of the pleasure. No, these several films that I have listed below are limited to those only capable of eliciting boredom and depression in overwhelming, Costco-sized doses. Enjoy!

1. El Aguila Real (1971)
(The Royal Eagle)
Boring rural melodrama, abundant (and real) animal cruelty, and an overdose of Santo manager/frequent supporting player Carlos Suarez in comic relief mode make this the one Santo movie most likely to make you want to tear out your own brain and scrub it with industrial cleaning solvents.

2. Santo contra los Cazadores de Cabezas (1969)
(Santo vs. the Headhunters)
Santo and his party traverse the Amazonian jungle on foot and, apparently, in real time, stopping only occasionally for him to wrestle listlessly with some obviously doped-up animals, in what has to be the most unendurable snooze-fest in his vast catalog.

3. Santo contra Hombres Infernales (1958)
(Santo vs. Infernal Men)
You might be tempted by this film’s status as one of Santo’s earliest, but you’d do best to skip it and instead seek out Santo’s first film, Cerebro del Mal. This one is a classic, Roger Corman-style pick-up film, shot hastily in order to squeeze a little more value out of Cerebro del Mal’s cast and resources. As such, it comes off like a version of Cerebro del Mal – itself no particular stand-out – that has been leached entirely of plot, forward momentum and, most importantly, a demonstrable reason for existing. On top of that, Santo is for some reason only shown popping his head in and out of the ocean like some kind of masked hybrid of Aquaman and a groundhog.

4. Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1979)
(Santo on the Border of Terror)
This one is as much a vehicle for fat ranchera singer Gerardo Reyes as it is for Santo, which, trust me, is not a good thing. A depressingly tawdry and neglect-ridden entry overall, it isn’t helped any by another overabundance of the unique comedy stylings of Carlos Suarez – something that I think you will find is a commonality among Santo’s least distinguished efforts. What makes this one most dangerous is the fact that, last time I checked, it was one of the few Santo titles that was available from Netflix.

5. Santo contra Capulina (1968)
(Santo vs. Capulina)
It’s a comedy. With Santo.

Next up is my list of the ten best lucha movies that don’t feature Santo – and, yes, there is such a thing.


Jason Whiton said...

I'm enjoying catching up with your posts, which came to my radar via Permission To Kill. I've linked to your blog (ok?) on my website and blog, Spy Vibe.
Best, -Jason (

Keith said...

My question about Santo Faces Death -- doesn't Santo face death in pretty much every movie. I don't recall that film containing more death-facing than usual, certainly not enough to justify it becoming the title.

Todd said...

Well, I think that, because Santo is played by an unconvincing double for a good part of the movie, what the title is really saying is that Santo was somewhere else facing all kinds of death -- in the hospital with a particularly nasty stomach virus, for instance -- while it was being shot.