Occasionally, the pristine quality of modern horror films can become a little repetitive and lackluster. Some horror fans prefer the campy, low-budget aesthetic of an old monster movie, local haunted house, or simple Halloween decorations. This week I decided to stray from the norm, set aside the pirate movies and watch a good, old-fashioned vampire flick from Mexico called SANTO VS. LAS MUJERES VAMPIRO a.k.a. Samson vs. The Vampire Women, directed by ALFONSO CORONA BLAKE in 1962. I’m not sure why “El Santo” was translated to Samson in English because they could have just called him “The Saint” and have it actually make sense, but OKAY AMERICA, go ahead and whitewash it. Anyway, this movie has vampires AND luchadors, so I can’t imagine this will be anything short of amazing.
The film opens to a gorgeous haunted mansion set and we get our first glimpse at our sexy, devious vampire women. Tandra (OFELIA MONTESCO) begins the process of awakening the other plaster-covered women so they may fulfill an old prophecy and find hot, new lady to succeed their Vampire Queen, Zorina (LORENA VELÁZQUEZ). Zorina is gorgeous, by the way, she kind of looks like if Kim Kardashian wasn’t a lizard person pumped full of plastic. The woman they are searching for is a descendant of the last would-be successor, so they finally have another chance to capture something from this particular bloodline again. Tandra screwed this up last time, so Zorina is pretty pissed and has made it clear that she’ll pull Tandra’s intenstines out of her cooter, should this be another failed mission.
The vampire women waste no time and go after innocent, unassuming Diana (MARÍA DUVAL) who is about to announce her engagement AND turn 21 in the same day. Times sure were different. I’m almost 27 and if I manage to put a pair of pants on that day, it’s a huge accomplishment. Diana is visited by Tandra and immediately begins to feel sick. However, Diana’s father, Professor Orlof (AUGUSTO BENEDICO), is secretly well aware of the prophecy and does what any normal Professor would do – call his friendly, neighborhood luchador for help.
This is where the movie starts getting awesome. The Professor calls none other than Santo (played by himself) to get help in combatting the undead creatures from hell and Satan himself, by proxy. Santo does what any normal luchador would do and goes to his scheduled match first, because he’s a wrestler, he eats thumbtacks and broken glass for breakfast, and Satan don’t phase him. We do get to actually see more than one full wrestling match, so going into this, be aware of that. If you can’t stomach lucha, then go watch a vampire movie that isn’t centered around it, there are quite a few. But seriously, how cool is this Professor? He can just FaceTime luchadors any time he needs a problem solved? That’s amazing! Why don’t we have a service like that? I would happily pay a monthly fee to have a luchador come over and help me paint my toenails, or whatever.
Santo handles battling the undead with ease. Apparently, vampire men are all trained in hand-to-hand combat and like pairing their velvety capes with muscle tanks, so this wasn’t too out there for Santo. The vampire women continue to stalk Diana as she does a horrible job of hiding in plain sight and complains about wanting to go to bed. Diana is just a cardboard cut-out damsel in distress, she does a pretty good job of being bland and helpless. Then again, I’d probably just sit back and be lazy if I had a Professor, Santo, and Satan all fighting over me, I’m sure that’s a pretty special feeling.
After a tense wrestling match where Santo and Black Shadow attempt ripping each other’s masks off, Black Shadow is revealed to be… a werewolf? Santo realizes shit just got real and he goes to rescue the, now kidnapped, Diana from the vampires. Without giving too much else away, I will say the ending is somewhat anti-climactic and predictable, but the movie is just such a fun watch that it didn’t even phase me.
As one would assume, this is a low-budget film, but outside of the goofy, plastic CVS bats, it’s really not that noticeable. There was so much love and careful planning that went into this film’s execution that it’s difficult to not enjoy. What struck me on a very personal level was seeing how much consideration went into the illustrated posters, there are numerous versions and they’re all incredible. They are beautiful works of art that deserve a google, at the very least. If you’re a fan of THE ADDAMS FAMILY or THE MUNSTERS, you’ll probably have a soft spot for SANTO VS. LAS MUJERES VAMPIRO. So next time you find yourself having a crappy day, or you just wanna stay in, put on this movie and just let El Santo whisk you away from all your troubles.