Las bestias del terror [The Beasts of Terror]

(Películas Latinoamericanas, 1972) Exec Prod: Fernando Osés; Dir: Alfredo B. Crevenna; Scr: Fernando Osés; Photo: Minervino Rojas, Rafael J. Remy; Music: Rafael H. Lima; Assoc Prod: César del Campo; Prod Mgr: Francisco del Busto; Asst Dir: José G. Prieto; Film Ed: José W. Bustos; Camera Asst: Manuel Jiménez; Lighting: Miguel La Villa; Makeup: María Antonia del Río; Sound Ed: Abraham Cruz

CAST: Santo (himself), Blue Demon (himself), Víctor Junco (Dr. Mathews), César del Campo (Tony Carelli), Elsa Cárdenas (Nora), Antonio de Hud (Pedro), Fernando Osés (Sandro), Quintin Bulnes (Lucky), Alma Ferrari (Susi), Idania del Cañal (Alma), María Antonia del Río (Lorna?), Carlos Suárez (Rojo), Angel Vadal, Ismael Ramírez, Andrés del Campo Jr., Roberto Lozoya R., Iván Curiel, Miguel Angel Errera, Edy Cabrera, Rafael Menéndez, Lydia Newton

Mexico City release: May 1973; 1 week run; Authorization: A

NOTES: This is a mildly entertaining crime film, shot in Miami (note the "Terry Sanford for President" banner on the McAllister Hotel), but the participation of Santo and Blue Demon really seems peripheral to the plot. For all they actually do, they could have been played by two regular actors: César del Campo is the chief protagonist of the picture, but Elsa Cárdenas, Antonio de Hud, Fernando Osés, and Quintin Bulnes all have fairly substantial parts. The production values are pretty good, a variety of camera angles help keep the viewer interested, and the music is sort of "cool" '70s movie-jazz. There are a few too many scenes of del Campo, Blue Demon, and Santo driving around Miami, which might be of historical interest but are otherwise just padding.

Speaking of padding, there are three arena wrestling matches included in Las bestias del terror --well, actually two and about 1% of another. Santo wrestles a black-masked guy (taken from La venganza de las mujeres vampiros), Blue Demon wrestles Cavernario Galindo, and there is about 30 seconds (literally) of Santo wrestling some guy wearing a red-and-gold mask (Rebelde Rojo, also from La venganza de las mujeres vampiros).

The poster for Las bestias del terror is a cheat, since it gives equal space to Santo, Blue Demon and a third wrestler wearing a black mask (presumably Santo's opponent, although he has no bearing on the plot), and some Doberman pinschers (I guess these are the "beasts" of the title). However, in the film, the dogs that chew up Antonio de Hud are three rather friendly looking Irish setters!

Petty crooks Pedro and his girlfriend Nora, in order to get the money they owe to gangster Lucky, kidnap Susi, whose sister is a millionaire. However, they are carjacked by the minions of Dr. Matthews, whose van broke down as they were taking a stolen corpse back to their mad scientist boss. Matthews uses blood transfusions from his captives--including Susi and Nora--to revive the dead bodies (all attractive young women). He then sells these submissive (but cute) zombies to a man wearing a turban (presumably for shipment to the Middle East). One would think that a scientist who was able to bring the dead back to life wouldn't waste his time creating white slaves, but there's no accounting for taste. At least in a film like Santo y Blue Demon vs. el Dr. Frankenstein, the mad scientist has a more legitimate reason for his illegal experiments (he wants to bring his wife back to life). Making sex slaves out of corpses is just plain weird.

Matthews is attracted to Nora, and she plays up to him in hopes of arranging her freedom. However, the jealous mad doctor sees her kissing Pedro, and he has the hapless crook thrown into a cell and then has some vicious dogs chew him up. He also has Nora whipped ("More! More!") for her duplicity (but later apologizes abjectly). Susi is molested by Matthews' servants: first, by the mute moron Rojo, and later (Rojo having disappeared) by the mute moron Paolo (Matthews apparently likes hiring mute morons).

Private detective Tony is hired by Lorna, Susi's sister, to find her. They can't figure out why the kidnapers don't call and ask for ransom. Tony promises gangster Lucky a big bonus if he finds out where Susi is being held. Lucky suspects that his former pal Sandro is involved (and he is).

Santo and Blue Demon are brought into the case by Tony. After helping Tony escape from the clutches of Sandro and his thugs, Santo says he has to leave for a wrestling match in Mexico. Blue Demon carries on: he identifies Sandro as a former professional wrestler who's now a crook. Sandro sells Lucky the information about Matthews and Susi, then flees to Puerto Rico, with Blue Demon in pursuit. In a struggle, Sandro is killed, but he managed to rat out his boss before he dies.

Santo comes back to Miami, and accidentally spots more of Matthews' men robbing a cemetary (the same one they always rob, you'd think the police would stake it out). He follows them and learns the location of Matthews' hideout. Santo and Blue Demon decide to attack the house.

Nora convinces Susi to "be nice" to the lovesick Paolo, who is grateful enough to help them escape. However, the two women are caught once more. Matthews is set to pour acid on Nora's face when Paolo smacks him with a pipe, and is fatally shot for his efforts. Outside, Santo, Blue Demon, Lucky and his gang, and Tony all arrive in succession. While Santo and Blue Demon fight Matthews' men, Tony shoots all of Lucky's men (mostly in the back). Tony also shoots and kills Dr. Matthews, but one of his stray bullets also kills Nora. Susi is reunited with her sister. Santo and Blue Demon depart.

The script for Las bestias del terror is actually constructed in a rather interesting fashion. There are various separate threads which gradually become intertwined, rather than a single, simple linear plot. Although some of the connections stretch coincidence a bit far, the very complexity is kind of novel for this type of film. Instead of just having the heroes vs. the villains, Osés has the heroes (Tony, Susi, Santo, Blue Demon) confronted with several sets of villains (Pedro and Nora, Matthews and his gang, Lucky and his gang), and the villains themselves are at odds with each other. Pedro and Nora (particularly Nora, since Pedro is dog meat about half way through) are first depicted as fairly ruthless criminals, but later they seem less villainous, and the death of Nora comes as a surprise (particulary since she's killed accidentally by the hero!).

It's also clever to have the heroes unaware that the kidnaping and the grave-robbing are related. In one scene, a policeman thanks Santo for his help (on other cases, one assumes), and talks about the thefts of bodies of attractive young women. There is a little continuity problem here, since Santo acts like this is news to him, although earlier in the picture he was hailed by the cemetary caretaker who had talked about the body snatching.

Overall, a decent film but one which definitely shunts Santo and Blue Demon into the background.

Review by on 14 Jan 1998; revised 6 Jan 99.

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