Santo the Silver Mask vs the Martian Invasion (1967)

aka Santo el enmascarado de plata vs la invasion de los marcianos
Article 2879 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-26-2009
Posting Date: 7-1-2009
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna
Featuring Santo, Wolf Ruvinskis, El Nazi
Country: Mexico

Santo must do battle with Martians who are intent on saving the Earth from itself… by taking over the planet and forcing them to live in peace.

Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end here, but I would have to nominate this as the best of the Mexican wrestler movies. Granted, this judgment is clouded somewhat by the fact that this is one of the few movies of the bunch that I’ve had English subtitles to help me understand what’s going on. It’s a movie with a message, and though it’s somewhat ham-fisted about it, it does add a touch of seriousness to the silliness that abounds. It also seems like more care was given to the story than is usually the case for these movies. Here’s a quick list of some of the more remarkable touches I found.

1) I’m amused by the opening sequence, in which the Martians take over the TV signals to announce their impending invasion of the Earth. This fails to frighten the Earthlings because they mistake the transmission as a comedy skit. Oddly enough, I found this concept rather convincing.

2) Quite a few people die by disintegration in this one, including huge crowds at sporting events. The Martians even disintegrate defenseless children.

3) There are several moments where Santo finds himself surveying a deserted location after a Martian attack. These scenes are unexpectedly poignant, especially since there is no music underlying these scenes, only silence.

4) There’s a rather surreal sequence where Santo holds a wrestling match in a deserted arena, insisting to his opponents that they must continue the match even though there is no audience.

5) On top of disintegrating humans and trying to kidnap Santo (so they can take him to Mars and study him), the Martians also kidnap a strange group of people. They kidnap a small family, a pair of government officials, a science fiction writer, a nuclear scientist, and a priest. Why? No explanation is tendered.

Oh, there’s plenty of silliness as well, including a musical number by the Martian women, the Martian costumes and names borrowed from mythology, and the all-too-convenient lever that blows everything to atoms. But the movie is surprisingly focused; the only wrestling scenes are relevant to the plot, for example. No, it’s not a great movie, but it’s one of the most ambitious Santo movies as well as the most enjoyable. If you were only to see one of them, this is the one I’d recommend.


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