Saturday, November 13, 2010

Asesinos de Otros Mundos (Mexico, 1971)

For me, Asesinos de Otros Mundos was the movie that started it all. That’s not to say that is was the first Santo film I ever saw; in fact, far from it. But, for some reason, it was the first Santo film I ever saw that made me slam my fist decisively on the arm of my sofa and declare that I simply had to document my reactions to it in writing. As such, it became the first film reviewed for The Lucha Diaries, the project that would launch me on my illustrious career as a guy writing about movies that nobody cares about on the internet for no money or prestige.

Now, while elegant in its own way, my initial review of Asesinos was done in the elliptical, self-obsessed fashion typical of my early Lucha Diaries efforts, and as such doesn’t shine as much light on its putative subject as I would become accustomed to doing once I became more, er, seasoned. Given that –- and following upon a recent re-viewing of this treasure –- I decided it was time to give Asesinos de Otros Mundos its due. And so it begins…

A madman is holding Mexico in a grip of terror, his weapon a creature at once so baffling and terrifying that its confused victims don’t know whether to scream or piss themselves laughing:

If you guessed “marauding space blob realized by way of roughly a dozen people scurrying around clumsily underneath a shabby looking tarp”, give yourself a big 4DK pat on the back.

Asesinos de Otros Mundos is that rare Santo film that jumps right into the action, and so, following the opening credits, we are immediately shown a rapid series of hilarious deaths, after which the authorities determine that there is only one man to deal with the situation: El Enmascarado de Plata, SANTO! No sooner has El Santo arrived at the office of National Police Chief O’Connor (Marcos Antonio Campos), than the aforementioned madman, Malkosh (waxy font of villainy Carlos Agosti), appears on the TV demanding $10 million in gold within 24 hours or else. Then he laughs. MWA HA HA HA!

Santo, Chief O’Connor and some other officials take advantage of the 24 hour deadline to argue amongst themselves in a conference room decorated with a photo of Marilyn Monroe and essentially do nothing of consequence. As a result, the deadline passes and more random people have the flesh stripped from their bones by the space blob. It is then decided that perhaps it might be best to pay Malkosh the ransom. But the authorities have a trick up their sleeve: SANTO!

Our hero stows away aboard the plane delivering the loot, and when Malkosh and his cronies arrive to greet it, he emerges like a whirlwind of slightly paunchy, middle-aged fury. Unfortunately, Santo underestimates his foe somewhat, and when Malkosh takes to a car to make his getaway, Santo finds that running directly toward it while waving his arms is not sufficient to make it stop.

Santo is knocked out by the force of Malkosh’s car driving directly into him at high speed and, when he wakes up, he finds himself in Malkosh’s lair, where he is forced to do battle with a couple of gladiators on the same set where they faked the moon landing.

Lucha movie novices may be confused by the epic length of this gladiator sequence, but keep in mind that, in Asesinos de Otros Mundos, this stands in for what, in any other Santo movie, would be a lengthy, statically shot and totally non-plot-driven sequence of Santo fighting some anonymous opponent in the ring. So consider yourselves lucky.

Anyway, when Santo proves more than a match for the gladiators, Malkosh decides to call in a guy in a heat suit with a flamethrower to make things interesting. However, Santo makes short work of pretty much everybody by grabbing a machine gun away from one of Malkosh’s guards and letting loose. Malkosh himself is mortally wounded, but before he dies, he takes Santo to his lab to show him the moon rock from which the space blob came. (On an autobiographical, human interest note: When I was eight, I waited in line for an hour to see the moon rock. It was totally boring, and by that I mean in a “not at all having a ravenous, rapidly evolving space bacteria attached to it” kind of way.)

Sadly for Malkosh, he is eaten by the escaped blob before having the pleasure of dying from his many Santo-inflicted bullet wounds. And thus it would seem that, only a third of the way into Asesinos de Otros Mundos, we have lost our villain, but it is of no matter. For word has gotten out, and now every bad guy in town wants to have a murderous space blob of his own. Chief among these is the frothing gangster Licur (Juan Gallardo), who keeps both captives and minions alike –- including his girlfriend -- in check by means of locked collars that emit poison gas at his command.

Licur goes about achieving his goal by kidnapping Professor Bernstein (hey, it’s Santo’s manager, Carlos Suarez), a noble scientist who’s in possession of another blob-bearing moon rock, along with Bernstein’s daughter Karen (Sasha Montenegro, in a shattering array of psychedelic cat suits). Fortunately, Santo is able to take one look at some dirt found on the shoe of one of Licur’s captured henchmen and determine exactly where his hideout is. Now all that lies between him and glory is a greasy expanse of pulsating plastic sheeting,

Now, if I understand correctly, the blob here is described as being sort of like a tumor, which means that Asesinos de Otros Mundos itself could be described as the film in which Santo punches cancer in the face -- or, at least, you might think so. The fact is, however, that Santo never actually fights the blob in Asesinos de Otros Mundos. You see, given that Santo’s super power is wrestling, an amorphous mass of tissue makes for a particularly poor opponent, thanks in no small part to the difficulty inherent in assessing its weak points. As I pointed out in my first review, even if Santo was able to lift the blob up and twirl it around over his head, how would he know which end of it to then slam down upon the mat? Surely head-butting it would be inadvisable.

So what Santo instead does when confronted with the blob is run away. A lot. He also fulfills his role as protector mainly by encouraging those in his charge to also run away from the blob whenever possible. Now that I think of it, this may be the main thing that director Ruben Galindo -- who also directed Santo vs. Las Lobas, a film in which Santo gets quite scared by, and then runs away from, some dogs -- contributes to the whole Santo mythos: this whole idea of Santo as a super hero who employs the tactic of getting frightened and running away as part of his whole crime fighting bag of tricks.

Anyway, in a manner that some might describe as predictable (cuh!), Santo makes his way to Licur’s hideout, making quick work of him and his minions before ultimately leaving them all to die by their own evil creation! He then frees Karen and her father, setting the stage for Asesinos de Otros Mundos’ thrilling, 100% running away finale.

For some reason, in my first review of Asesinos de Otros Mundos, I described it as being something of a terrible movie. However, upon watching it again, I now find it to be a warm slice of pure B movie bliss. This is perhaps because, in the intervening years, I have seen just how bad a Santo movie can be, and have adjusted my standards accordingly. But really, I think that you, too, will share my appreciation for Asesinos de Otros Mundos if you are willing to take part in the following, thoroughly undemanding little brain exercise : Think of The Creeping Terror. Now think of The Creeping Terror, but with a masked wrestler beating up bad guys added to it. See? It’s a clear case of the perfect made perfect-er.

On top of that, Asesinos de Otros Mundos generously affords me one of the greatest joys of watching Santo movies, and that’s seeing our star repeatedly acting upon what are quite obviously the shouted instructions of his director in absolutely the most literal-minded manner possible. (“OK, Santo, now run toward the car and wave your arms!”) There’s really no “lose” here. And so I must congratulate myself, once again, for giving my fledging interwebs film writing project such an appropriate and auspicious start. After these long years, Asesinos de Otros Mundos has become like the sickening, pulsating blob that now sits where my heart used to be.


Prof. Grewbeard said...

it's obvious that you love this film, so now i think it's time you did the right thing and married it. if not, i'll take it away from you!...

word verification- blabings

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

If more heroes would have the wisdom of Santo and run away whenever possible, or use machine guns, there'd be less need for resurrections.

memsaab said...

All Santo seems to lack is a minstrel of his own to sing about his cowardice as he runs away! Love.

" illustrious career as a guy writing about movies that nobody cares about on the internet for no money or prestige."

What are we? Chopped liver? Gooby space blobs?

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

Oh oh oh! I wanna be a gooey space blob!

Todd said...

Ah, Memsaab. Can't a guy attempt to be humorously self effacing without people being all nice and supportive and stuff? Gosh!

House: The thing is that the running away super power is only effective when faced with a foe as slow moving as the space blob in this movie.

Prof: Seeing as I'm already married to several other Santo movies and an actual human woman, adding Asesinos de Otros Mundos to the harem might necessitate a move to Utah. Oh, Utah, I kid!

"This Old Scarecrow" said...

For decades the title of this film has eluded me.
Back around 1983-84 my friend Joe H. and I decided we needed to explore the world of El Santo a bit more deeply...but there wasn't an outlet of available films.
We lived in Woodbridge, Virginia, and there had recently opened a Mexican grocery store at a tiny strip mall along the south side of U.S.#1.
We ambled inside to discover the prop was renting hundreds of Latino VHS tapes.
We asked for El Santo, and he produced a clutch of titles for rental at $2.00 apiece.
We took them, stopped at the 7-11 and stocked up on Cheese Waffies, champagne, and Shlitz Malt Liquor, and headed to my place for a marathon of what lie hidden on the tapes.
We watched the first two, and were pretty much non-plussed by what we saw...but we introduced that third tape inside the deck- and all hell broke loose.
We laughed so hard, we pissed ourselves (as by this time we were plenty drunk, and high off our asses)...this was one incredible film.
Neither of us could believe our eyes at this blob-thingy lurching around.
It looked to us as if it were a large chunk of 'Super Elastic Bubble Plastic' inflated with an air compressor, and three or four sweaty guys grappling inside it to move it forward, and appear to seem menacing.
We watched it twice that afternoon, and evening.
We never forgot the film, except it's title (until now).
Thanks for this all-important information, and posting.

Todd said...

Thanks, Scarecrow! It's an amazing cinematic document, isn't it? And I highly commend your approach to Santo, right down to your choice of libations; definitely a model for others to follow.