Santo vs. The Riders of Terror (aka Santo contra los jinetes del terror)
A band of lepers escape from a hospital and are hiding out in a secret cave. They emerge on occasion to rob people and steal supplies. A nearby town is beset, but the sheriff asks Santo to ride in and help. After establishing his credentials in the ring, Santo sets off to find out the leper situation is more than it appears to be.
The Santo movies tackle a number of genres, naturally I'm most attracted to the ones that involve monsters, but the series has also touched on crime, science-fiction, and straight-up adventure. Riders of Terror is a very rare foray in the western. This does create the peculiar anachronism of a modern looking Santo wrestling in a modern looking ring set in the middle of a stock old west town. At no point does anyone mention what year it might be. I suppose, if the characters had just accepted Santo as is, then it would have been easy to roll with everything, but people are constantly asking him about his mask and why he wears it. Here was an opportunity to tie Santo in to the tradition of other masked western heroes, such as Zorro, or the Lone Ranger, but the film is far too earnest to try and be even a little meta.
|"You got a little something on your face."|
|"You got a little something on your... You know what? Never mind."|
Riders of Terror is a weird blip in the Santo oeuvre. It is interesting in the way it constantly defies acting like any Santo film that has come before it. It does feel that Santo himself was merely pasted into an already written script, but his presence still gives it that edge that transforms it from just a cowboy story into something a little stranger.