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Friday, September 4, 2015

Santo in the Treasure of Dracula


 
Santo in the Treasure of Dracula (aka Santo en el tesoro de Dracula)
El vampiro y El Sexo
1968
Ray Cardona Jr.

Santo builds a time machine. I don't even know if the film needed to go much beyond that. Santo builds a time machine is a movie in itself. This time machine isn't the kind where you sit in a chair or lay down in a box and poof you're suplexing dinosaurs. Rather, you are sent back in time to inhabit a relative from the past. This also allows a room for full of people to gawk at your adventures on a tiny television set. A woman named Luisa (Noelia Noel) volunteers to try out his new time machine and is sent back to the 19th century where she just happens to cross paths with Dracula and his eponymous treasure.

Treasure of Dracula actually exists in two versions, the standard one (well, as standard as any luchador film that involves time travel and vampires), and El Vampiro y El Sexo which contains several lengthy nude scenes on the part of Dracula's victims and his coterie of vampire women. Santo himself is never present in these scenes, but they are fairly well integrated into the film despite being completely superfluous.

"I don't know... jiggle the handle or something."
This particular Santo outing plays out like two separate stories. The first half feels like a low budget hammer film, complete with period costume and heaving bosoms. We eventually jump back to the present day of 1968, and the story becomes more of an adventure complete with masked bad guys, and a conveniently placed Dracula coffin near the treasure. Santo's reasoning for getting involved is murky at best. As a scientist/treasure hunter he seems a bit removed from his usual role as crusading hero.

Treasure of Dracula manages to top the absurdity of Santo being a temporal engineer by having the most straight-up honorable bad guy in film history. He not only agrees to set up a wrestling match between a henchman and Santo to see who will right claim the keys to Dracula's treasure, he also gladly congratulates and hands everything over when Santo inevitably wins. Of course, he's looking to take everything back through duplicity later on, but up until that point he's very congenial.

It's hotter because he know Santo might be watching.
The low point of the whole story is the grating "comedy" of Perico (Alberto Rojas). His substandard Jerry Lewis impersonation wouldn't past muster in Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952). Even Santo takes the opportunity to step on the guy's chest at one point. It's a shame Dracula never tried biting him and doing the audience a favor.

I wouldn't call Treasure of Dracula good, but it's so very odd, that there is something compelling about it. It's is a mash-up of Gothic horror, science-fiction, action, and silly comedy that could only possibly exist in the strange world of luchador films. In that respect, it is a treasure in itself. I would say give this one a look, especially El Vampiro y El Sexo, if you want to add some mild smut into the already heady mix.

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