Santo vs. the King of Crime (1962)

SANTO VS. THE KING OF CRIME (1962)
(a.k.a. SANTO CONTRA EL REY DEL CRIMEN)
Article #1401 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-14-2005
Posting Date: 6-13-2005
Directed by Federico Curiel
Featuring Santo, Fernando Casanova, Ana Berthe Lepe

Santo takes on a crime syndicate that is making money off of sporting events.

Now we move on from Santa to Santo. Unfortunately, we’re also moving on from English to unsubtitled Spanish, as that was the only copy I could find of this one. It’s a bit of a shame; like SANTO EN EL HOTEL DE MUERTE, there are some very interesting elements of the story. In particular, the opening sequence is about a young boy who gets into a fight with several other children, and then returns home and has a long talk with his father (in the presence of another man who I believe may be a butler), who reveals he has the mask of Santo hidden in his library. The next scene has a man (whose face we never see) talking with the butler above, and then donning the Santo mask, and making his way down to a secret lab underneath the library. I can’t help but wonder whether I’m watching the mythic origins of Santo or not.

This one seems quite well made, and has an interesting use of double exposure at one point in the proceedings. The fantastic elements are slight here; the villain is in no way supernatural that I can tell (unlike many of Santo’s foes), and there is really no horror atmosphere to speak of. It does have slight science fiction elements, though; the lab itself is one of them, and one of the gizmos on hand is combination wristwatch / walkie talkie of some sort.

There are two types of sporting events that take place in this film. One is wrestling (of course), and for fans of this, the wrestling scenes are quite good. The other has me puzzled. It looks like some variation of racquetball, only it involves teams, and the players wear these long hard curved appendages strapped to their hands (they look vaguely like tentacles) with which they must catch the balls and throw them. I have no idea what this sport is. Initially, I thought it might have been lacrosse, a sport which I’ve never seen in action. However, I have seen lacrosse rackets, and they don’t look anything like the appendages here, so I’m at a loss. This is one of the downsides of watching movies in other languages.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jolyon at the SciFilm board, I now know the name of the sport. It’s called pelota, and he described it as one of the most lethal sports on earth.

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