During this season of light, it’s important to take time out to acknowledge the things in life that bring us joy. You know, things like “masked Mexican wrestlers” and “classic monsters.” In the spirit of community and sharing, I’ve invited the Vicar of VHS, Grand Vizier of the Tenebrous Empire and cornerstone of that bastion of cinematic wackiness known as Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies, to join me in a celebration of what is best in life (you know, other than seeing your enemies driven before you and hearing the lamentations of the women, which is also pretty goddamn good but significantly less festive).
To get you latecomers to the party all caught up, the Vicar and I have just finished watching “El Santo y Blue Demon contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo.” It tells the heart-warming tale of the Cristaldi family and their generations-long fight against Dracula and his right hand lycanthrope, Rufus Rex. The Cristaldis quickly lose their patriarch to a Satanic ceremony which resurrects Dracula and Rufus, but the industrious Lina Cristaldi brings in her boyfriend El Santo and his best pal Blue Demon to help investigate the case and thwart Dracula’s plans to get revenge on her family and then turn the entire world into his supernatural army.
TK: I loved the way each of the three in-ring fights seemed to be Pants versus Underpants.
VV: I did not notice till you mentioned it, but you are correct! The forces of good go for the long trousers without fail.
TK: It’s like shirts versus skins, but… pantsier.
VV: I’m only guessing here, but perhaps Santo y Blue Demon need the pants to make sure their GIGANTIC BALLS don’t flop out.
TK: You’re probably right. Those guys are almost TOO rad. I mean, El Santo can wear vests that look like they’re made from Midcentury bathroom flooring and still be AWESOME.
VV: Indeed, he’s not afraid to rock the home-knitted sweater. Though I must say, Blue Demon also had it goin’ on with the purple lace-up number near the end.
TK: That is a true statement of fact. It’s a rare man who can be iconoclastic enough to look like a gimp-masked pirate and STILL be the one on the dolin’-out end of the beatings.
VV: Truth be told, I was much more impressed with Blue Demon’s ass-beatin’ skills than those of the IDOL OF MEEELIONS.
TK: I think Blue Demon has a certain brashness about him that’s endearing.
VV: True. His small stature is misleading, but his profundo basso voice tells the true tale. He’ll also scale a tree like a monkey at the drop of a cape.
TK: And kick the crap out of Hippies! I admire that in a man.
VV: I confess, I kinda need a “Renato El Hippie” t-shirt.
TK: Seriously. I wanna know Renato’s backstory. His appearance was sort of a spoiler though–you could tell he’d lose that match to Blue Demon due to his lack of mask and pants.
VV: The announcer kept trying to talk up Renato’s consummate athletic skills, yet all I saw was the print of his ass on the mat.
TK: True, true. I mean, I’m no wrestling afficionada, but from a purely fashion POV, there was just no way he was gonna win.
One of the cool things I observed in this movie was that luchadores aren’t just good at rasslin’– they’re also chess players!
VV: That shows they’re intellectuals. It takes more than brawn to take down aliens and lycanthropes and shit.
TK: I wonder if Mexican chess has different rules.
VV: Maybe if the Bishop has a lucha mask, he can move wherever he wants.
TK: Or the knight can take a flying leap off the turnbuckle!
VV: That would be rad. Everything’s better in Mexico.
TK: Seriously. I imagine there to be a lot more bandoliers and shouting and tequila. And Dia de los Muertos collectibles everywhere.
VV: I can’t help thinking Santo did pretty well for himself with his girlfriend Lina. Not only is she quite the cutie in her miniskirts and her soulful eyes, but she knows how to drive a forklift.
TK: Absolutely! THAT is an effective girlfriend right there. “My skirt is shorter than my belt, but I will totally drive this heavy machinery into you if you mess with my MAN!”
VV: Not only that, she was far stealthier than Blue Demon.
TK: Yes. Blue Demon had more enthusiasm than skills when it came to surveillance.
VV: Well put.
TK: Mask =/= invisibility
VV: I love how Eric the Ugly Satanist TOTALLY made him as soon as his little blue head popped up in window-view.
TK: “Don’t look now, Wolfman, but there’s totally a luchador in the tree out there.”
VV: “But they’re not even in season!”
TK: Much like Lina was a great girlfriend, Eric was a very effective hunchback henchman!
VV: Eric was kind of awesome, actually.
TK: He suffered from greediness, but man-oh-man–when Dracula or Rufus Rex asked for something, he was ON that shit.
VV: How about that opening scene between the 2nd and 3rd falls where he offers a malediction to Satan? You didn’t have to wonder who the evil mother fucker in this one was for a MINUTE.
TK: Totally. His characterization was very consistent. I dug the flame-spitting Chupacabra heads he installed in the cave, BTW. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, because he knew it’d make Drac and Rufus feel at home.
VV: Those things were LEGIT. I wonder how many crew members were immolated in making that scene.
TK: Doesn’t matter–it was worth it.
VV: I agree–the movie wouldn’t have worked without them.
TK: One of the things I always wonder about the Mexican Wrestler movies is who the audience is supposed to be. They operate on Kid Logic, and yet early in the film, Dr. Cristaldi suffers a very grisly death in order to bring about the resurrection of Dracula and Rufus Rex.
VV: I can only assume no adult in Mexico ever loses his childlike joy, probably thanks to Santo and Blue Demon.
TK: Mexico really is a wonderland, isn’t it? * sigh *
VV: I was thinking about the scene after Eric wins “Spot the Demon,” when he leads Blue Demon and Santo to the warehouse. Blue Demon and Santo are totally inconspicuous in their red convertible.
TK: Hey, that’s how masked wrestlers operate! In any decision between Subtlety and Showing Class, Showing Class will ALWAYS win. That’s why there are so few masked wrestlers left in the wild.
VV: Maybe they weren’t as conspicuous as we think. Perhaps in Mexico City on a Saturday night, you’d see dozens of luchadores rolling around in their low riders. Nothing unusual about it!
TK: Stop–you’re making me want to move to Mexico now!
VV: So we’ve talked a bit about Los Enmascarados, but what about their opponents?
TK: Oh! You mean Dracula and el Disco Lobo?
VV: The name is RUFUS REX, which is the total winner of “Most Awesome Werewolf Name EVER.”
TK: Seriously. He was like–“yeah, my name is Rufus Rex, I’m not making up a nom de guerre; in fact, I’m donning this AMAZING YELLOW SATIN LACE-UP BLOUSE in order to make myself even MORE excellent! And if you fuck with me I will werewolfize your ass!”
VV: I hate to correct you, but he was completely resurrected ALREADY WEARING the lace-up satin blouse. Not to mention the say-something leather belt.
TK: The leather belt was the finishing move. Maybe that was, like, a medieval rasslin’ award?
VV: He was the heavyweight champion of the Aztec Empire.
TK: Kinda like the Dracula medal. What do you think Dracula’s medal means? In this movie, it looked a little like a chicken…
VV: I love how Dracula ALWAYS starts out as a skeleton, and then as he’s reconstituted, his wardrobe is also automagically resurrected. In this one he even had white gloves and a cane.
TK: You’re right! And it’s not covered in blood or anything. That’s pretty amazing stuff.
VV: Dracula, it has to be said, was a major disappointment to me in this one. I mean, he LOOKED all super suave.
TK: Yeah, he was kind of a managerial Dracula.–just sending other people out to do his legwork. Good thing he had effective co-baddies!
VV: I counted THREE TIMES he was just about to bite someone, and got interrupted/distracted/startled and never got back to it. How long does it take, dude? CHOMP, you’re DONE.
TK: Yeah, but… he still dressed the girl vamps well, in those red diaphanous gowns. That counts for something. He’s… kind of a Mr. Blackwell of the supernatural world that way.
VV: When he was marching down the hall with the aforementioned Novias de Dracula, I couldn’t help thinking of the Imperial Guard.
TK: See, I saw some Naschy similarities there.
VV: That wouldn’t be the only Naschy tie-in.
TK: Though I must say, Naschy would’ve PWN3D these supernatural baddies, like, fourteen times over the course of the movie.
VV: Oh, it would have been no contest. The LEAP ATTACK off the top rope would have had any of these guys cryin’ home to mama!
TK: There would have been no neck unbitten, no boob ungroped, had the Naschinator been present.
VV: I wonder what Waldemar’s mic skills would be like? “ARROOOOOO YEAH, BABY, WE’RE COMIN’ TO THE METROPLEX IN THE DISCTRICT FEDERALE! YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE THE NASCHINATOR? I’VE BENCH PRESSED BOULDERS MORE AGILE THAN YOU! THE PAIN FROM SPAIN RAINS MAINLY ON YOUR *BRAAAAAAAIN!* AR-OOOOOOOOOO!”
TK: Also… another bit of a quibble but…
That dagger that’s so pivotal to the plot–the one that’s only effective against evil…
Presumably it still has… oh… I dunno…
even over good people.
VV: Well, of course they totally ripped off the dagger from Naschy as well. But yeah, Dracula sends Eric to get it from Santo because it “has no power over him.” No wonder Eric decided he’d rather Drac be his bitch than vice versa.
TK: No joke, man. Dracula is like one of those store managers who would always make you go alphabetize the videos while he sat in the back room eating a sandwich and reading “Maxim.” Only… wearing a tuxedo.
VV: I was EXTREMELY disappointed that the fight of the movie’s title did NOT take place in an actual wrestling ring. I wanted a tag-team match with millions watching on TV.
TK: Indeed. Although it did take place somewhere with more strategically-placed spikes. I think that was kind of critical to the whole outcome of the film.
VV: What was that place they were in, anyway? I mean, Drac’s castle is in Transylvania, presumably; and Eric found Rufus a SWEET apartment. So it’s just a rental, I guess. With caves and spiky death pits.
TK: Speaking of Rufus’ apartment–I like the fact that he showed he was sensitive by having what looked like portraits of the Bronte sisters on his wall.
VV: The Brontes were HAWT. That’s what passed for bikini posters 400 years ago, when he and Drac were killed the first time. Talking of which, I was impressed that Rufus adjusted to modern technology so easily. You’d expect him to be all “WHAT the fuck? Where are the horses? How does this light work? What’s that evil magical talking box?”
TK: No joke! Although it did look like he was talking into a Hitachi Magic Wand at one point…
VV: You mean the rotary-base phone? I totally had one of those.
TK: Did it… you know… help when it rang?
VV: Well, one time I did slip and fall on it… but that was a total accident.
TK: All seven times.
VV: No matter what the insurance company said. After the second time I started lubing it up as a preventative measure. Better safe than sorry.
TK: I’m never phoning you again.
Hey, speaking of Gendered Issues–did you notice that all the chicks became vampires and all the men became werewolves?
VV: You’re right that the girls all became vamps– there were no were bitches, but I did see some male vamps in their subterranean army at the end. IN FACT, one who I like to call “Mullet Vamp” really caught my eye. I noticed him because his plumage was so distinctive,
and also because he got thrown into the Spiky Death Pit.
And then a few minutes later was fighting again, in a different colored shirt.
Unless he had a twin.
TK: I also noticed that different werewolves were further along than others in their development. Some guys were all wolfed the fuck out, while others just kinda didn’t shave.
VV: In fact, even Rufus’s hairiness seemed to wax and wane. At first he was all wolfy, but then in the final battle, he was pretty much wearing a luchador mask, only made out of hair. No neck make up, no hand shading, nuthin’.
TK: Wow—you’re right! Maybe he got seduced into the modern ways of waxing?
VV: That’s possible. He was definitely a quick study.
TK: Also, hanging out with those glossy, hairless luchadores must have made him feel inadequate. They are big bucket-necked hunks of manhood, after all.
TK: I mean, El Santo has a black velvet painting of himself in his locker room!
VV: And I think the term “barrel-chested” is woefully inadequate to describe the barrelly-ness of their chests.
TK: Tank-like physique?
VV: It made me read lots into their trademark “knowing looks,” which would have been full of subtext anyway.
TK: Although, in all fairness, Blue Demon is NOT a cockblocker. He lets Lina and Santo have plenty of alone time.
VV: Blue Demon is the consummate wingman.
TK: He’s all like “oh no–I have STUFF to do–you go to the bank together.” * WINKWINK*
VV: I really like Blue Demon better than Santo, truth be told.
TK: I think Blue Demon is more willing to let his imperfections show. He’s more like you and I. If… you and I were stout rasslin’ Mexicans with shiny masks and giant red convertibles.
VV: To be fair, though, Blue Demon didn’t lose a SINGLE FALL in his match, whereas El Angel Blanco made Santo shit a squealin’ worm in their second fall.
TK: El Santo is more like a Jesus figure, I think.
VV: So if you and I were luchadores with convertibles, what would our handles be?
TK: Hmmm… La Loba Infernal! GirlKaiser works for me too, since Dr. Wagner is already taken.
VV: I would be “El Penguino Volidor “
TK: “The Violating Penguin…?”
VV: “The Flying Penguin.”
TK: Oh, see, that’s thought-provoking too!
VV: Though the other works too. I thought you were “Dr. Satan somethingorother”
TK: Oh… “Dr. Satan-Molesto.” That’s… a nickname I earned the Honest Way. By groping women while wearing a mad scientist outfit.
VV: See, you’ve already got your gimmick! How about finishing moves?
TK: How do you say “explosive fist” in Spanish?
VV: “puno de explosivo”
TK: Yes. That. How about the Violat–I mean FLYING Penguin?
VV: Mine would be the Amazing Ass Bomb.
TK: Does that have anything to do with the rotary phone?
VV: My lawyer says it’s best not to comment on that
TK: I… have a feeling it’s A Very Effective Move, then…!
VV: Yes, but it’s high-risk. I could also give them the Deep Dive Penetrator maneuver. But that’s been banned in 35 states.
TK: Oh boy.
VV: So Rufus actually gives Blue Demon a pretty good fight there at the end– I admired his skill.
TK: And his blouse.
VV: Though he didn’t seem to get the power boost I would have expected when he wolfed out. It seemed the same fight, only hairier.
TK: True! He was just a guy with really fast growing facial hair. Who lost the power of speech. Which is really a net loss of powers.
VV: In the scene right after his resurrection, Rufus was swaying at the shoulders quite a bit too
I couldn’t tell if he was trying to look beastly, or if the actor was drunk.
TK: Pullin’ a Joseph Cotton, as they call it in the biz.
VV: I wanted to say, though, that I was surprised by how decent the horror elements in this movie were. Despite Dracula’s net uselessness, he did look the part, and there were a few scenes where he was directing people through hypnosis that were atmospherically lit and effective.
TK: I think that’s really a realistic portrayal of a vampire. In my experience with real-life vampires, it’s a lot more about the swagger than about the supernatural stuff.
Neck-biting–Oh shit I got distracted.
VV: Fighting luchadores–I have People for that.
TK: Totally. That’s how vampires roll.
VV: Also, the resurrection sequence was unterrible. You had the flame spouting gargoyles, the upside-down old man getting stuck like a pig, and the steaming skeletons, all aces. Also Eric praying to Satan most emphatically.
TK: I am ALL ABOUT the “reconstituted from skeletal remains” scene.
VV: Although…did you notice that Dracula’s skeleton had its scapulas in the front?
TK: Maybe that’s how vampires are built–don’t judge.
VV: It would explain his uselessness in a fight.
TK: “I can’t help–my arms are rooted to my sides.”
VV: Well, since one of the main Mexican wrestling moves seems to be “Throw myself head-first into my opponent’s chest,” I think he could have made it work. The scene where they’ve captured dozens of innocents to make their army and are going all bondage-scenario on them in the dungeon–that was pretty cool too. It’s hard to go wrong with a girl tied down to a stone altar. Which is probably the only way Dracula could actually get the business done, come to think of it…
TK: The basement of the Vicarage is a fantasy of iron chains and big rock altars–that’s what you’re trying to tell me?
VV: Again, my lawyer is giving me the “shush” sign
TK: It’s ok. I will promise to only tell the internet.
VV: Did you notice the whole BDSM vibe going on throughout the flick?
TK: YES! With all the WHIPPING and DOMINATING in the ring, and how everybody who gets captured is chained up somehow.
VV: And then Blue Demon is CHAINED to the wall and he has to walk the Balance Beam of Pain while all tied up.
TK: Yes, there were indeed some Special Needs moments, proving, once again, my theory that EVERYTHING IS SEX.
VV: Like I say, those knowing looks between Santo and Blue Demon… there’s more than rasslin’ strategy going on there. Of course it seems that Bondage is big in many of these lucha flicks.
TK: True. And yet the women are uber-chaste! Nary a boobie to be seen anywhere, alas.
VV: How did they capture those dozens of innocents anyway? I can only assume it was Eric’s doing.
TK: Seriously. Eric and the Uncharacteristically Trusting Mobsters he managed to hire.
“Who are we working for?”
VV: “I want to meet your boss.”
“No you don’t.”
TK: Man, I need to find help like that for the Empire.
VV: “Go to the library and bring back any stacked, shy-looking bookish chicks you find.”
TK: Yeah, I don’t want any of that “why?” shit. Just “I will trade you X bars of gold for Y reprehensibly immoral action.”
VV: It’s the beauty of Capitalism.
But back to our luchadores!
I got the impression Santo was a bit of an egotist. I mean, granted, he is THE IDOL OF MEELIONS.
TK: Kind of like Jesus.
VV: Expound on this Christ/Santo parallel that you’ve mentioned a couple of times. You’ve intrigued me.
TK: They were both Mexic–no that’s not it
VV: OH! I know–El Angel Blanco made Santo SUBMIT with a move called the “Crucifixion.”
TK: I’m pretty sure Santo must be related to God somehow. I mean, look at his name. And his fucking COOLNESS. I’m pretty sure he can turn water into wine with the sheer force of his AWESOME. And on the DVD box, his name is in the biggest font.
VV: His name is all over the credits.
“Produced by El Producer and SANTO”
“With the participation of the Government of Mexico and SANTO”
“Written by Escritorio Bueno while SANTO was watching”
TK: And that means Lina is like Mary Magdalene.
Who can also drive a forklift.
This is some serious DaVinci Code shit up in here!
VV: If Mary Magdalene could drive a forklift, the Pieta would look WAY different. In fact, she’d have totally sprung JC from Golgotha. You could easily fit the prongs of the lift under the crossbar of the cross, and Bob’s your Uncle.
TK: There wouldn’t BE a Pieta because El Santo would throw Pontius Pilate into a submission hold and then just take a jetpack up to heaven and continue kicking ASS.
Our Bible is much cooler.
What about the other Cristaldi girls?
TK: Hmmm… the granddaughter had a funky haircut.
Very new wave, with its three tiers.
VV: Plus, she didn’t seem too torn up that her mom was dead at the end.
Or maybe she didn’t know yet.
Actually, Lina asks Santo “What will we tell her when she wakes up?”
And they say “That it was all a dream!”
“Yeah, it was all a dream. Plus, your mom’s dead.”
TK: “You didn’t really see werewolves, but you’ll need therapy for the REST OF YOUR LIFE because of your vivid dreams that your mom was a vampire.”
VV: That scene where she meets her living-dead grandpa and mom in the mansion was actually almost creepy. Reminded me a bit of “Black Sabbath,” the Karloff sequence.
TK: Yes, it was a bit of a heavy sequence, right? The whole involvement of the little girl was very strange and almost superfluous. Why was she there other than to create that awkwardness at the end?! The movie would’ve worked even if Lina was the only other Cristaldi.
VV: Well, Santo needed someone to save after the little girl nonsensically wandered out onto the Balance Beam of Pain.
TK: Ahhhh…! See, that makes sense.
VV: Then he got to go all Errol Flynn on Rufus and Drac. He didn’t even fucking NEED the dagger.
TK: Just his own two meaty paws!
VV: And an assist from Blue Demon.
TK: Blue Demon is like St. Peter. He is the rock on which the church of El Santo was built.
More, more, MORE images of Santo, Blue Demon, Dracula and Rufus Rex live over on Flickr!