Santo vs. The Daughter of Frankenstein (special guest review!)
If you had to ask me one of my own pet peeves about horror movies, I’d probably have to say that I rarely if ever enjoy the main protagonist. Assuming we aren’t classifying Jason or Freddy as the good guy, of course. Most notably in slasher movies, your main character is usually bland and interchangeable if not downright obnoxious. Don’t worry though, Mexico has your remedy. What if, instead of some pimply faced teen, you had a masked luchador staring down your maniacal killer? This is the basis of Santo vs. The Daughter of Frankenstein.
El Santo is maybe the most famous guy in Mexico ever. Think like, George Clooney and Barack Obama, except with more high-flying offense. In these Santo vs. movies he is sort of a Pro Wrestler by day Super Secret Agent by night. And of course, lover of women. Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you probably know the story of Dr. Frankenstein. Well, his daughter does too and she sticks with it for the most part. She has an army of red-sweater-ed henchmen who drag dead bodies into her underground lair to stitch together a monster. Also, everybody is hundreds of years old. Yeah, in addition to wanting to create new life in untraditional ways, she also wants to live forever. So, she distributes this serum to all her centuries-old minions in exchange for their loyalty. This is a lady with a lot going on! And honestly, who wouldn’t want to live forever in an underground lair with a maniacal woman who forces her bidding upon you?
In the meantime, we see Santo having a 2/3 falls match for the number one contendership for the World Middleweight title. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re in the middle of a semi-horror movie. How long would you say we should show footage from this match? Maybe one or two minutes? How about 15? It’s possible it just felt like that. Such is the magic of Santo. His girlfriend is pretty excited anyway, and is certainly in no danger whatsoever.
Dr. Frankenstein is no thousand year old fool, she knows you can’t just do crazy headscissors and not have super blood. She tested some blood from Santo she got at a wrestling match and it turns out he’s got some serious diesel coursing through his veins. Enough to make her life-extending serum potent possibly forever. Luckily, apparently underground in their lair the girlfriend of Santo and her whereabouts are pretty common knowledge. The red shirt brigade kidnap her with little trouble and leave a note for the Saint.
Santo and his girlfriend’s Mom find the note and Santo agrees that taking an old woman on a kidnapping rescue seems like an ok idea. Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein is dishing out life-serum to some new
recruits. We get to enjoy a montage of pained old Mexican men! If you care much for the acting process this is a good scene to watch, since this is where it dies. Soon after, we get our first victim as she refuses to give the serum to some guy for leaving his dishes in the sink or something.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Frankenstein movie if there wasn’t a monster. This one is apparently a human with ape blood, that old classic. He breaks his bonds so he can wander this luxurious palace, making sure to recoil in terror at a torch in the hall. He decides to break down the door that holds Santo’s girlfriend captive. She escapes while a red shirt holds the monster at bay with the torch. Meanwhile, Santo is hitting on her mom in the woods.
The Doctor and her pals give chase, Santo is waiting on a tree stump which he promptly leaps onto them from. Santo beats up around 12 men before finally the Doctor turns a gun on his girlfriend, forcing his capture. Once he’s set up in chains, the doc wants to test out her new toy. That means, Frankenstein Fight! In the end, Santo beats him to death with his own shackles! A metaphor for life, we all have to beat Frankenstein’s monster, in spite of the bonds that leave us shackled daily…or something. The doctor says “Screw it” and hypnotizes Santo’s girlfriend to gouge out his eyes. Why not?
They send her into a room where Santo is tied down and the guards wisely step outside and shut the door behind them. Moments later, Santo breaks in to the laboratory where the Doc is at work and we get a second Frankenstein Fight! Two in 10 minutes? This movie spoils me. Anyway, Santo hits him with a chair to the face and they escape.
In what I would consider a smooth move, Santo decides to leave his girlfriend in a graveyard while he looks for help. This graveyard, coincidentally, houses a false grave leading to Doc’s lab. The monster stealthily sneaks up on the girlfriend, no small feat considering that before this time he couldn’t go a second without groaning. Santo kicks Frankie backwards where he’s impaled on a really sharp grave marker. Santo sends his girlfriend and her mother off with a stranger as he goes back to put a stop to the Doctor.
When he goes back to the graveyard, Frankie is bleeding profusely but still alive. Santo takes off his fine cashmere shirt and wraps his wound. What a gentlemen. Santo falls victim to some booby-trapped corpses that spout gas from their eyes. That old trick! Anyway, the injured monster returns to make the save! So we’ve been swerved and now we’ve got a Santo/Monster tag team!
The stranger that Santo sent the girls off with promptly turns them over to the red shirt brigade. Now Doc is ready to harvest their eyes for a new monster. Tonight in the laboratory! Santo/Monster vs. Doctor Frankenstein/Her assistant. Santo handily dispatches the assistant, and the Monster locks on his deadly choke hold, but receives a vial of horrible burning acid to his face. He stumbles backwards and hits the self-destruct button for the lair and all I can think is that it’s a shame this palatial suite will be gone forever. Santo, nice guy that he is, yells for Frankie to follow him. That’s right, he yells for a monster brought to life from nothing who has a horrible wound where he was impaled on a stake and who just seconds ago had horrible acid poured over his face to follow. Frankie is, unfortunately, too busy holding his burned face and assumedly now non-functional eyes to follow and he’s killed in the explosion.
With no real segue, we go straight to the arena where Santo captures the Middleweight Title and they all live happily ever after, except for all the dead people. In the end, it turns out that mankind is the real monster.