El Tesoro De Moctezuma/The Treasure of Montezuma (1968)

El Tesoro de Moctezuma (1966)‘lt’s a uranium-powered, electronic video transmitter of great strength.’

A sinister criminal organisation plan to use the lost treasure of the last Aztec Emperor Montezuma to fund their diabolical schemes. A map hidden in a statue held in a museum holds the secret to its location. Unfortunately, the drawing needs to be decoded and the key to the cipher is hidden in an emerald ring which is in the possession of an Interpol agent…

Direct sequel to ‘Operacion 67’ (1967) that finds legendary silver-masked wrestler El Santo and his compadre Jorge Rivero still running around like ‘Bonds On A Budget’ tackling guns, girls and (very few) gadgets. They’re up against supervillain Miguel Gomez Checa and his evil minions again, and this time the crooks are after nothing less than Montezuma’s treasure! Rather predictably, this involves collecting a couple of MaGuffins in the time-honoured tradition of Hollywood Serials of the 1930’s and 1940’s; on this occasion an ancient statue and an emerald ring.

Heisting the first item from a museum proves to be rather easy, their night-time operation aided immeasurably by the main job of all the museum’s guards: popping outside alone for a quick smoke. A few quick shots of ‘freeze gas’ later and the statue is in the bag! Unfortunately, Checa and his main lieutenant Suki (Noé Murayama) find their second object somewhat harder to obtain, mainly because ex-employee Elizabeth Campbell passed it to agent Rivero in the first film. So, inevitably, a lot of the running time involves various goons trying to knock off Rivero and his partner El Santo.

El Tesoro de Moctezuma (1966)

‘…and don’t forget the extra garlic bread…’

The villains try to run down the legendary luchador in an underground car park using multiple vehicles until they eventually remember they have guns too! However, after letting off a few rounds, they just get bored and give up. Rivero is targeted behind the scenes of a bullfight, but he’s never in any serious danger as he can still throw a mean left after being shot in the shoulder. A few moments later, he re-joins date Amadee Chabot with just some blood on his suit and no other apparent consequences!

Talking of Chabot, Rivero meets the statuesque ex-Miss California on the street and enthusiastically runs her off the road after she repels his initial advances. Obviously, this brilliant seduction technique is a complete success and they retreat to Rivero’s bachelor pad where they start getting up close and personal in his private swimming pool. All this time, El Santo is watching them on his private TV because all agents wear magic cameras that allow them to be filmed as if by a third person! Santo does turn off his TV before they have sex, though, so it’s all fine and not creepy at all. Anyway, the next scene finds Rivero making eyes at a dusky brunette in the crowd watching El Santo fight, because…it was the 1960s, I guess. Santo ends up with this new girl’s twin sister anyway, so it’s all fine and not creepy at all. Again.

In the last 20 minutes everyone remembers that the film is supposed to be about Montezuma’s treasure, and Santo is lured to a rendezvous at the local pyramids. In a badly missed opportunity, he does not encounter our old friend, the Aztec Mummy, but just more of Checa and Murayama’s goons, who fail to kill him again with their usual ruthless inefficiency. Supervillains just can’t get a decent standard of help. Having said that, Interpol’s backroom boffin Dr Androna does get himself strangled to death (in a few seconds) but, when our heroes arrive, he has managed to leave them a last-gasp explanatory message on his tape recorder nevertheless. He even includes information about the villains’ plans that he can’t possibly have known!

El Tesoro de Moctezuma (1966)

‘All you have to do is fly the kites from the top of the tower…’

This project obviously had a slightly higher budget than most of El Santo’s cinematic adventures and the father and son directing team of Rene Cardona and Rene Cardona Jr deliver a competent, if rather uninspired, production. Proceedings are enlivened a little by the early appearance of the lovely Maura Monti as an enemy agent, but the emphasis on Rivero’s romantic escapades are likely to be a little tiresome to fans of our silver-masked hero.

It was a busy year for El Santo as he’d already flexed his ‘Indiana Jones’ muscles going after Dracula’s treasure in the cunningly titled ’Santo and Dracula’s Treasure’ (1968). Rivero was actually more of a bodybuilder then a wrestler and, although he’d played a luchador in his debut feature, he’s fairly obviously doubled in his scenes in the square ring.

Passable, if slightly anonymous, spy games for El Santo. Not the worst of his efforts by any means, but lacking the wackier elements that make some of his other adventures so memorable.

Operacion 67/Operation 67 (1967)

Operacion 67 (1967)‘As the chief of our organisation, I would like to say that our plan for world domination will proceed.’

After duplicating U.S. currency plates whilst in transit, a secret organisation plans to wreck the world economy by flooding the market with millions of new bills. A team of two top secret agents are assigned the task of foiling the scheme and taking down the villainous group once and for all…

So, who is this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ running around the glamorous capitals of continental Europe, tangling with guns, girls and gadgets? Why it’s our old friend, the silver-masked Mexican wrestler El Santo! Only his travel itinerary is limited to Hong Kong, the gadgets are just exploding wrist-watches and the babe action is mostly left to Jorge Rivero. Yes, our silver-masked hero has a partner, and it’s clear that he’s no sidekick, the two being equals throughout. This means that Rivero gets as much solo screen time, something which probably didn’t sit too well with fans of the great man.

Our two heroes are the best Interpol has to offer but, as the film opens, they’re just catching some rays on the sun terrace with their respective girlfriends. El Santo keeps his mask on throughout, of course, which I guess saves on sunscreen, but probably wasn’t all that comfortable. An emergency call comes in, the babes exit stage right never to be seen again, and a hip 60’s soundtrack blasts into action (just dig those cool horns, man!)

Operacion 67 (1967)

‘Don’t worry, Annette will never recognise me like this.’

In charge of the organisation’s dastardly plot is Elizabeth Campbell, keeping her minions in line via the medium of the afore-mentioned exploding timepieces. These are somehow ‘welded’ to her agents and can’t be removed (unless its convenient for the plot). In the closing stages, she sets out to seduce Rivero and falls in love with him! This development really looks as if it’s been tacked on at the last minute, maybe so more glamour shots could be included in the film’s trailer.

As per usual in these kinds of shenanigans, the villains target our heroes right from the get-go (even before they’ve been briefed on their mission) and their frequent efforts at assassination provide the clues required to break the case. After all, Santo and Rivero weren’t getting anywhere on their own. Their brilliant investigative strategy revolves around the inevitability that two of the gang will put their funny money into circulation by betting on major sporting events; specifically, the tag-team bout in which they are taking part! I have to acknowledge that this is an original plot development, if just a tad implausible.

Operacion 67 (1967)

‘You and whose army?’

Unusually for a Santo film, there’s full frontal nudity (a dancer doing a ‘geisha girl’ routine in a nightclub) and seemingly a more substantial budget than usual. Father and son directing team Rene Cardona and Rene Cardona Jr even throw in a vague homage to Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’ featuring Rivero in a car, that comes with a handy bazooka.

Rivero’s handsome looks, good physique and an easy screen personality eventually landed him a plumb role opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ ‘Rio Lobo’ (1970). Later, he co-starred with Charlton Heston and James Coburn in ‘The Last Hard Men’ (1976), but his star faded quickly, and, by the start of the next decade, he was top-lining Lucio Fulci’s dreary sword and sorcery adventure ‘Conquest’ (1983). Although American by birth, Campbell acted almost exclusively in Mexican cinema, finding national recognition for her role as the Golden Rubi, one of the ‘Wrestling Women’ in the popular series that also starred Lorena Velásquez. After a series of other leading roles in films of the 1960s, including ‘The Chinese Room’ (1968) for Albert Zugsmith and Mexican ‘Eurospy’ film ‘Peligro…! Mujeres en Acción’ (Danger Girls) (1969), she left the country to pursue her career in New York and dropped off the radar completely.

This is one of El Santo’s more technically accomplished and well-presented features, although it does suffer from a very poor, small-scale climax. But, for all that, it’s more engaging that some of his other efforts at the spying game.

El Santo and Rivero were paired again in direct sequel ‘El Tesoro De Moctezuma’/The Treasure of Montezuma’ (1968).

Conquest (1983)


‘Isn’t this an animal you’re eating?’

A young warrior travels through a mystic land encountering monsters and the forces of an evil sorceress. But can he avoid the frequent attacks of deadly ‘sword and sorcery’ clichés, a low budget and an out of control smoke machine?

Italian director Lucio Fulci is best remembered these days for censor-bothering gore classics such as ‘The House By The Cemetery’ (1981) and ‘The Beyond’ (1981). His films didn’t tend to make a lot of sense but boy did they have some moments that it’s hard to forget: the woman throwing up her own intestines in ‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980), the eyeball and splinter incident from ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ (1979) and many others. But, long before he helped stoke the fires of the media-created ‘Video Nasty’ debate, Fulci had made westerns, Giallo thrillers, even comedies and musicals.

So, perhaps it’s not too surprising that he tried to shake off the horror tag in the early 1980s by venturing into the sword and sorcery arena, and following it with a stab at dystopian science fiction: ‘Rome 2072: The New Centurions (1984). Sadly, the budgets for these ventures wouldn’t have paid for one day’s catering on a Hollywood blockbuster.

Our hero here is Mace (Jorge Rivero), a young warrior who travels the kingdom to ‘face the darkness’ after believing in a load of vague twaddle spouted by the local wise man. The darkness turns out to be a young woman in a gold mask (Sabrina Siani) who spends rather a lot of time writhing around naked on a cave floor with a snake. Apparently, she’s an evil sorceress. She doesn’t seem to have any real plans or long term goals – I guess she’s happy with her snake – but crosses swords with our hero anyway.

Rivero teams up with Ilias (Andrea Occhipinti), a kind of roguish, Han Solo-type. They bond over lots of fisticuffs, banter and serious life lessons. Solo turns out to be a kind of ‘Beastmaster’ and is able to communicate with poorly animated seagulls. Being Fulci there’s some nice gore, of course, but the special effects aren’t very special and everything is clouded in a misty haze. Apparently, cinematographer Alejandro Ulloa intended his use of soft-focus lenses and a fog machine to conjure an ethereal atmosphere, but instead it just obscures much of the action.

Conquest (1983)

Luke who?

There’s also a smattering of the usual 1980’s clichés; a pounding synthesiser score, extras who stand on top of cliffs so they can be shot and fall off in spectacular fashion, the hero’s enchanted weapon (which is definitely not anything like a lightsaber) and the local native tribe who are covered in mud but never bother to wash.

We’ve seen it all before, and the plot development is almost non-existent; our heroes wandering about aimlessly getting into scrape after unrelated scrape between trite passages of dialogue about the conflict between responsibility and self-interest.

Some have championed this picture because of the photography and score, alleging that it has a unique atmosphere and feel. I can’t agree. Perhaps it’s true, but I kind of like to know what’s going on.