My friends, the time has come for you to meet the greatest of all Mexican Luchadors…the one and only Santo. In the world of Mexican wrestling, Santo is a legend. He was hugely popular, so it only makes sense that he would make the transition to the movies. On movie screens he was also a huge success, appearing in 52 movies. Perhaps the most famous outside of Mexico is our film today…1962’s Santo vs the Vampire Women.
As our story begins, a swarm of vampire women led by the lovely Tandra (Ofelia Montesco) has risen from their 200 year sleep. In order to restore themselves completely they, of course, need blood. They also need to get their hands on a young woman named Diana (Maria Duval) who is the descendant of someone who escaped the clutches of the blood suckers ages ago. This is all so they can perform a bizarre ceremony that will allow their vampire queen (Lorena Velazquez) to get to hell and marry the devil…or something like that.
Diana’s father, Professor Orlof (Augusto Benedico), however, is quick to catch on to the vampire babes’ plan. Lucky for Diana, her old man is good friends with Santo. With the famous wrestler on the case, those vampires don’t stand a chance. Still, there are three vampire dudes that have been sent out to cause trouble for the legendary luchador. Santo even ends up having to do battle with one of them in the ring. When he unmasks his opponent. He turns out to be a werewolf! Now is that awesome or what?
Eventually, the vampire women do get their hands on poor Diana. Now Santo has to come to the rescue before it’s too late. Somehow the vampires manage to get the jump on Santo, chaining him to a table. Fools, that can’t stop Santo! He manages to bust out and bring firerey end to their blood sucking ways.
Ok, this may all be a wee bit silly, but I just couldn’t resist this movie. It’s just plain fun! In many ways, this is a wonderful mash-up of a B-horror film and superhero movie. Remember, Santo is Luchador…they wear masks. To have one’s mask removed is a dishonor, as I understand it. We never see Santo without his mask, so he definitely takes on those mysterious superhero qualities. Plus, there’s the simple fact that this guy was an actual wrestler and is an imposing figure to say the least. His skills in the ring are well on display here, as well, especially in the sequence where he fights the werewolf.
The film also manages to be quite stylish in it’s look. Sure, you can see the wires on the bats, forget about that for a moment. The lighting and the sets are very effectively done in the tradition of the great Universal horror films. Though Hammer was just rising to prominence with their horror films around this time, this film seems to also pull a page from their playbook. The cast is full of gorgeous ladies who would be the envy of any Hammer casting agent. When they take on a more monstrous form, these vampire women are also effectively creepy.
I admit, when Santo first comes bounding into the movie to assist Dr. Orloff, I let loose with a bit of a chuckle. After a few moments, though, it’s not hard to get on board with the fun spirit of this movie. Sure it’s goofy at times, but Santo vs the Vampire Women has some great atmosphere, some sexy and scary monsters, and a superhero to save the day. What more could you want in a vampire wrestling movie?