I blame it all on the current issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS, #270, which, among other features, devotes several full color pages to those sublimely bizarre and oh-so-surreal Mexican super-hero wrestler movies, better known as Las Luchadores. While reading the issue the other day, I got to thinking that it had been many years since I sat down and watched a masked wrestler epic. I decided to scratch that itch this afternoon by watching SANTO VS. THE MARTIAN INVASION (1966) and it's a shame that the film isn't nearly as good as the poster pictured above.
Santo, the wrestling super-hero, starred in many films produced in Mexico from the 1950s to the 1970s. In the films, he's always clad in his trademark silver mask (actually a full head hood), cape and tights. In some films, he wears a coat and tie or a dinner jacket in place of his wrestling togs but he is always, always, masked. Santo operates as both a wrestler and a super-hero and over the course of his cinematic career he tangled with a variety of monsters and menaces.
As you can surmise from the title, Santo takes on a band of invading martians in the film I watched this afternoon. There's a lot of stock footage. There's a flying saucer. There are muscle bound Martian men and zaftig Martian women. There are wrestling scenes. A lot of wrestling scenes. There's one extremely long bout that may still be taking place somewhere in Mexico City for all I know.
The plot of this film is about as solid as a loaf of bread. There are continuity errors, the invasion plan of the Martians doesn't make a lick of sense, Santo uses a tricked up transistor radio to locate the Martian saucer and the streets of Mexico City (one of the most densely populated urban areas on the entire planet) are oddly deserted. Did I mention that there's wrestling?
SANTO VS. THE MARTIAN INVASION plays like an issue of a Golden Age comic book from a poverty row publisher with a story and art that was cobbled together over a weekend in order to meet a deadline. The DVD I watched had English subtitles over a nice print of the film. I consider subtitles on foreign language films far preferable to badly dubbed English.
If you've never seen one of these films, you owe it to yourself to check one out. The Las Luchadores movies are like nothing you've ever seen before.