Santo vs. Frankensteins Daughter (1972) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Santo vs. Frankensteins Daughter (1972) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on April 11th, 2021 | Movie Review | Mad Scientist, B-Horror

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It’s about a virtuous masked wrestler trying to rescue his girlfriend from a dungeon of doom.

Santo vs. Frankenstein’s Daughter was directed by Miguel M. Delgado (1905-1994) (director of 141 films, such as Mr. Photographer 1953) and it stars the legendary masked actor Rodolfo Guzman Huerta (1917-1984) a técnico (babyface) Mexican wrestler who starred in nearly 60 pictures alongside Cuban-born actor Gina Romand as his nemesis, Doctor Freda Frankenstein (who also starred in Neutron vs. the Maniac 1964).

Can Santo thwart the antagonist’s scientific fountain-of-youth scheme?

Santo vs. Frankensteins Daughter Review

The first El Santo films began production in the late 1950’s. Ultimately fifty-two were made with four that have been dubbed into English. Anyone even considering a lucha libre flick pitting Frankenstein’s daughter against Santo need not be cautioned against elementary special effects and exaggerated pathos. The budget is modest. The actors are masters of the overstatement. But those who are willing to consider the merits of such a film will be richly rewarded.

I recall the television Batman series (1966-68) fondly. I was seven years old when I encountered Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin in their 25-minute television segments. Today, I see the cheesiness of that creative exercise. The ridiculous villains. The “POW!” and “ZOWIE!” fight scenes. The tongue-in-cheek bat logic. Robin’s quips. But as a youngster, all I saw was heroics. Good defeating evil. Heroes without flaws speeding around in the most amazing car I’d ever seen.

Santo vs. Frankenstein’s Daughter is like re-watching Batman shows with rose-colored glasses which filter out camp. Indeed, Santo vs. Frankenstein’s Daughter is over-the-top (the henchmen wear matching shirts!) without being campy. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. But it cares about its primary color plot and its archetypal characters. Its pacing is perfect. Its score is luscious. Santo’s convertible is slick. His courage is bottomless.

The villain is a smart, scheming woman. But she is neither a trope nor absurd. True, her flaw is to seek eternal youth and perpetual beauty in the form of a serum which just might be found in the Mexican wrestler’s blood. (How else could he still be wrestling in the 1970s?!) But the lady black hat’s male subordinates are equally weak-willed, inasmuch as they, too, are enslaved by the promise of unnatural elongations of youth. The silver-masked Santo will have to employ his best wrestling moves to defeat them.

In one sense, both El Santo and his nemesis Freda Frankenstein wear masks. Santo’s full-head máscara is standard wrestler garb and – we are shown in one scene – it modestly hides a breathtakingly handsome face, though the audience sees only his girlfriend’s (or is it his goddaughter’s?) rapturous reaction when she removes it. We have to imagine his princely mug.

Freda’s own mask is a pretty one made of flesh. We see her true face emerge as she builds a tolerance for her serum – it is not so much an elderly woman’s face as a hideous visage which confirms her wickedness – a wickedness brought on by her covetousness and her vanity. Only a true hero can check its power.

Worth Watching?

Well, it depends. Assess your own habits of virtue first. This is a film fit only for the fittest. Anyone else will probably just scoff and roll their eyes.

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