Santo and Dracula’s Treasure (1968)

Santo and Dracula's Treasure (1968)‘Dear Colleagues; I’ve invited you to this, my house, to let you know, distinguished members in Metaphysical Studies, about the work of a dear friend of mine, well-known for his scientific work, who has hidden his identity all his life in order to fight crime.’

Silver-masked wrestler Santo has invented a time tunnel thingy, and sends his girlfriend back to inhabit her body in a previous incarnation. Unfortunately, it turns out that her ancestor had attracted the attention of a certain Count Alucard, and his intentions seem to be less than honourable.

Okayyy…so Santo isn’t only a wrestling legend/James Bond/monster hunter, he’s now also a genius particle physicist and inventor! Yes, there really is nothing that he can’t do. Time travel included. Unfortunately, he’s initially mocked by sceptical eggheads (the fools!), and so has to prove his thesis with a practical demonstration. But he needs a woman to be his test subject because they are ‘four times stronger than men’ (silver-masked wrestlers included, apparently). Luckily, his main squeeze (Noelia Noel) volunteers for the gig and off she goes, only to fall into the clutches of the king of vampires himself.

Most of the first half of the film is a straight rehash of the same old Dracula story, with a Van Helsing wannabe suspecting Noel’s aristocratic next door neighbour of being responsible when things start to go bump in the night. Santo and his chums are able to watch the proceedurals through the magic of television! Yes, our main man’s marvellous time machine comes with its own TV channel. Of course they reverse the process and bring Noel back when things start getting a little dicey. Luckily, she has perfect recall, and remembers about Dracula’s fabulous treasure, the clues to its location being hidden in the inscription on Dracula’s ring and a medallion around the neck of his corpse. So, she leads them to the site of his tomb, and…but hang on a second, this is all looking a bit familiar, isn’t it? Yes, it’s ‘La Momia Azteca’ (1957) all over again, with Dracula standing in for our old pal, the Aztec Mummy! Oh, dear. Not very original, is it?

Santo and Dracula's Treasure (1968)

‘If you see Doug & Tony in there, let them know the General’s looking for them…’

Anyway, a villainous gang get their hands on part of the secret, and a struggle of wills results between them and our (obviously) noble heroes (I expect they were going to give all the money to an orphanage of something). Eventually, it’s decided to settle the dispute with a ‘winner takes all’ wrestling match before a live audience, and…but, hang on a second, this is all looking a bit familiar, isn’t it? Yes, it’s the last half hour of ‘Wrestling Women Vs. The Aztec Mummy’ (1963), only not nearly as good. Oh, dear. Not very original. Again.

It wasn’t unusual for Mexican films of the 1960s and early 1970s to rehash plots and situations from previous films. Actually, it was accepted practice, and the Santo films were probably the most formulaic of the lot. Mind you, there are some naked female breasts here, which is unusual, as our hero’s cinematic exploits were generally pretty kid-friendly. Or perhaps they only look like that now. Perhaps they were the cutting edge of acceptable horror at the time if you lived south of the border.

Now, that is a bit scary.

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