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Rise Above Entertainment presents
Santo and the Blue Demon vs Dr. Frankenstein (Santo y Blue Demon contra el Doctor Frankenstein) (1974)

"What has scientists perplexed is how both young women were able to walk home after they were already dead."
- Newscaster (Carlos Bravo y Fernandez)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 16, 2003

Stars: Santo, Blue Demon, Sasha Montenegro, Jorge Russek, Ivonne Gorea
Other Stars: Jorge Mondragon, Carlos Suarez, Sonia Aguilar, Ruben Aguirre, Jorge Casanoca, Sebastian Verti, Ray Mendoza, Cesar Valentino
Director: Miguel M. Delgado

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (wrestling violence, amateur brain surgery, zombies)
Run Time: 01h:36m:00s
Release Date: June 10, 2003
UPC: 730475951261
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ D+B-C- D+

DVD Review

There's nothing quite as deranged as a Santo movie. For those new to the subgenre, Santo is a a masked Mexican wrestler who starred in a series of absurdly cheap films in the 1960s and 70s, often facing a variety of public domain monsters. On occasion, he was also tag-teamed with another masked wrestler, Blue Demon. Their absurd stories, focus on poorly staged wrestling matches and complete disregard for logic and contempt for the intelligence of their audiences makes them highly entertaining camp items today. This installment from 1974 is firmly in that laughably silly mode.

The 113-year-old Dr. Irving Frankenstein (Jorge Russek) is still causing trouble, moving the brains of people from one body to another, in the process creating electronically controlled homicidal zombies. This all somehow is supposed to be related to a plan to revive his long-dead wife, kept frozen by the doctor. But Dr. Frankenstein is also a wrestling fan, and in best mad doctor fashion, decides that what will help him rule the world will be to transfer the brain of Santo into the body of the gigantic Mortis. To accomplish that, he has his henchmen kidnap Santo's girlfriend Alicia Robles (Sasha Montenegro). Can Santo and Blue Demon rescue Alicia and avert Frankenstein's evil schemes? Will they lose their extended tag-team fights with Ray Mendoza and Cesar Valentino (which admittedly have nothing to do with the story)? Does any of this make any sense at all?

Since it's a Santo movie, the notion of a story that makes sense can be disposed of at once. In no way, shape or form does anything anyone here does resemble life in the real world. But it's still plenty entertaining from its sheer goofiness. What else can one say about two heroes who never take off their masks, even when they're in bed? How does the doctor expect transplanting a wrestler's brain into a big doofus will suddenly give the doofus great agility? And for that matter, exactly how would that allow him to "control the leaders of humanity?" Worry yourself not about such thoughts, and just go along for the absurdist ride.

Santo and Blue Demon demonstrate all the acting range one would expect from a couple of guys wearing form-fitting, full-head masks, which is to say practically zero. But they do convey a ridiculous earnestness that makes the ride entertaining enough for its running time. Russek adequately chews the scenery as the mad doctor, despite the readily apparent flimsiness of his plot (recycled by screenwriter Alfredo Salazar from his earlier Doctor of Doom (1964) and its 1972 remake, Night of the Bloody Apes). Most of the female leads are uninteresting and just there to be rescued by the wrestlers.

It's not clear whether this is a complete print, but this disc is lacking the sex and nudity that were common in the Santo films of the early 1970s. But it's possible that this was just filmed in an extremely mild way for eventual television sales; the heroes merely hold hands with their girlfriends and chastely kiss them on the cheek, and no blatant censorship cuts were obvious to me. The wrestling sequences are fairly static, shifting between long and medium shots of the ring, all from exactly the same location. They're fairly dull, but part of the total Santo experience. The precise title of the film is somewhat unclear; the poster art printed on the keepcase cover uses the usual Mexican spelling of "Frankestein" without the second 'n.' But the onscreen title uses the American spelling of "Frankenstein," despite being otherwise in Spanish. The style grade below takes into account the camp entertainment value, rather than any actual intrinsic merit to the film.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The film is presented in full-frame mode. I'm not certain whether this was originally presented in widescreen format, but I didn't see any evidence of panning and scanning. There's not much in the way of headroom, so this doesn't appear to be an open matte transfer. In any event, the color is surprisingly good for early 1970s Eastmancolor; much of the time it's quite vibrant and attractive. The source print is generally in acceptable condition, though regular speckling plagues the presentation. Only in a brief bit towards the climax is there more significant frame damage visible. I didn't observe any edge enhancement or significant artifacting, though the picture is a bit on the soft side. The use of an RSDL disc for a fairly short movie permits a quite high bit rate that surely helps cut down the artifacts.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoSpanishno


Audio Transfer Review: The sole audio track is a 2.0 mono Spanish track that suffers from audible noise, crackle and hum throughout. It's recorded at very high levels, making viewing at reference levels downright painful. The cheesy music score by prolific composer Gustavo C. Carrion generally sounds pretty good, with a great deal of twanging, percussive noises and something that sounds like a musical saw. The score adds a lot to the funky atmosphere of the film, and it happily transfers well.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Santo: Infraterrestre, Santo y Blue Demon contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo
Production Notes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:47m:07s

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
  2. DTV promos
Extras Review: Other than trailers for two other Santo adventures, the prime extra is a lengthy and thoughtful set of liner notes by David Wilt, author of a forthcoming Mexican filmography. This booklet contains a good deal of useful background information, although it also contains many spoilers and is best read after viewing the film proper. There's also an animated display of a little over a dozen stills from the film, though they only occupy about half the screen. A Best of El Santo featurette consists of a 2m:02s series of clips from Santo movies, annoyingly, none of which are identified onscreen. Six trailers for a variety of direct-to-video schlock such as Mischief 3000 and Barroom Babes and Brawls wraps up the package.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Santo fights to keep his brain in this entertainingly ludicrous entry in the series. The transfer is okay, but there's not much in the way of extras.

 


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