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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Science Fiction > Wrestling > Mexico > Santo Vs. The Martians (VCI)

Santo Vs. The Martians (VCI)

 

Picture: C††† Sound: C ††††Extras: C- ††††Film: B-

 

 

Here's an oddball film that lies tucked away within a genre that remains largely unexplored here in the states - that of Mexican superhero and action movies.Mexican B-films of the 60's and through much of the 70's could often be characterized by a crazy haze of jumbled ideas, bad costuming and hammy acting.Yet many people have latched on and found a lot to appreciate amongst the weird zest of these, some of the lowest of low budget films. I can draw parallels to other genres which I enjoy greatly in spite of their poor approach. However, while I still have a love for certain films from this period in Mexican cinema (Santa Claus being one of my personal favorites), for whatever reason, I have trouble getting into the majority of the other stuff. That "other stuff" encompasses more than a few genres, of which I'd include monster movies, superhero/action, children's fare and sexy comedies common to the B-pictures of the time. For the most part there's just not enough for me to latch on to, and the entertainment gets tedious within a short while, but for some here will just never be enough.

 

Santo, who now would suddenly look like Nacho Libre to the uninformed, is a big hero and Santo Vs. The Martians (1967) is one of many installments in the long-running film series.

 

There's certainly enough of the weird going on in this movie for those who love it to appreciate - and while the effects and storyline were about 10 years too late, when compared with Cold War era sci-fi films from the states. The fight scenes aren't shabby, and overall, it feels like you're watching a kaleidoscopic homage to the movie serials made throughout the 30's and 40's. Overall though, the entertainment value has a habit of being sparse in my eyes. But if the sight of a silver-masked Luchador staving off the Martian menace puts the twinkle in your eye, by all means, partake in this film - you'll likely be getting your entertainment value in spades.

 

The picture quality on the disc is below par - being non-anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and with a fair amount of wear to the film print. The contrast of the black and white film is still quite good however, and held up nicely through the transfer. The sound hasn't been beefed up at all either - the only option you have is to view the film with its original Spanish language audio track, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono.

 

Despite the lackluster thrills beaming from the presentation itself, my driving complaint lies not with the film, and not with the likewise lackluster picture and sound - but rather with the poor design of the DVD. I don't really mind the packaging being bilingual, in spite of this being a disc aimed at U.S. audiences, but the main menu automatically starts out in Spanish. This is easily fixed with a click of the remote, but instead of an instantaneous change, you've got to skip through this annoying animation before you get back to the menu again. Worsening this poor menu design - after viewing any of your selections it automatically reverts back to the Spanish language setting and you have to reset it to English again. This is an annoyance that could have been snuffed out without much trouble, but instead was overlooked by those at VCI.

 

The packaging might also be misleading, as it states that the film includes audio commentary. Well, it isn't the film itself that includes this feature - itís merely a slideshow with narration, albeit an entertaining and informative one. There are also two companion biographies in similar fashion - one on the star - wrestler El Santo, the other on the actor who portrays the Martian leader - Wolf Ruvinskis. I'd have enjoyed watching the interview with the real life Son of Santo - carrying on the legacy of the silver mask from his father, but unfortunately it seems that the producers of the DVD failed to include subtitles for this portion, and I was unable to watch the interview. Other standard-type extras include an El Santo filmography and movie poster gallery as well as the trailer for Santo vs. The Martians.

 

Had the features found on this disc been handled less clumsily during the production, I might have had a much more enjoyable experience overall. I did enjoy learning more about the history of the wrestler and the legacy provided by his films. In the end, I even got a glimmer more appreciation for this film and others of its ilk - perhaps if another opportunity arises to see the film under better conditions, I might grab at the chance. Even if itís still not my thing, I'm sure others out there would like to see this and the other twenty-odd films in the series done justice and handled in a more appropriate fashion.

 

 

-†† David Milchick


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