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Santo vs. The She-Wolves
cast: Santo, Carlos Suarez, and Carlos Jordan

directors: Ruben Gallindo and Jaime Jimenez Pons

85 minutes (15) 1972
Yume DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Santo, or to give him his proper name, Rodolfo Guzman Huerta, was a Mexican wrestler whose popularity in Mexico exceeded even that of Hulk Hogan in America. In fact, far from simply being a wrestler and a media star, he was even considered a folk hero for his continued defence of justice and his iconic silver mask. His wrestling career spanned five decades and dozens of films. Santo vs. The She-Wolves (aka: Santo contra las Lobas) was one of his last films and was made when Santo was all of 55 years of age... which explains why he isn't as energetic as you might expect a professional wrestler to be. The film is quite short, its production values terrible, its print in dire need of some restoration work, and its plot and action set pieces far from riveting or even coherent, but at the same time it's a film with some real charm and kitsch appeal to it, which explains its re-release.

Santo is a professional wrestler and superhero whose services are called upon after some people are murdered (who these people are and why he should care is not dwelt upon) by wolves. Initially people are sceptical about the claims of werewolves but the Mulder vs. Scully investigative aspect of the film is blown away in a scenery-chewing info-dump from a doctor who claims that the werewolves have a new queen and their king has arrived from Transylvania, and that the world will end if Santo (thanks to his silver mask) does not kill the King of the 'Lycanthropos'. After some fighting and some exploding cars, the film settles down for a Night Of The Living Dead-style siege after which Santo chases down the werewolf king and drops him off a cliff.

Clearly, this is a film that assumes that the audience will be on its side and as a result doesn't make too much of an effort to win them over. When Santo is introduced, we get about 10 minutes of footage of him wrestling, followed by the revelation that Santo wears his silver mask all the time. Indeed, the film is full of shots of Santo wearing snazzy suits and stylish zip-up cardigans along with a silver mask. Clearly there is no need to explain this eccentricity... if he wasn't wearing the mask he'd just be some lumbering fifty-something.

The fight scenes are by and large poorly directed and choreographed, seldom looking like more than pub brawls. I was expecting shots of Santo taking fur bikini-clad women and killing them with pile-drivers but we seldom get much more than a back-handed slap or maybe a half-hearted lift. Furthermore, despite this film being all about Santo fighting the she-wolves, it is clear that Santo never actually hits any women. This leads to some wonderfully comical moments such as some pretty women being attacked by she-wolves only for a male werewolf to turn up on screen seconds before Santo, so that Santo can have someone to hit. Also worth keeping an eye out for is the fact that they introduce this silver she-wolf queen only to then forget about her and introduce Licar, the king of the werewolves. Presumably because upon turning up for shooting Santo said: "I'm not hitting any women." In fact, the story of this film makes so little sense that it's hard to imagine that it wasn't the product of on-set re-writing, as I don't think anyone could ever have finished this screenplay and gone 'yup... it's ready to shoot.'

Clearly made for hardly any money at all, the film relies entirely upon lens filters for its special effects. The final scene involving the coming of a Great Red Moon is shot predictably using a red filter, and this does actually work, but another attempt to turn a daylight-shoot into a nighttime scene look as though they were shot with the lens cap on.

Santo vs. The She-wolves is a film to enjoy with friends and through a haze of shouted wisecracks and fits of laughter, indeed, another of the Santo films appeared on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 so that ought to give you some idea of quite how bizarre this film is. But unless you're a big fan of Mexican wrestling I really wouldn't recommend watching it on your own.
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