For the past few years I’ve participated in a little friendly competition called the Halloween Horror Movie Marathon Madness over on Facebook. Every year there is a theme and points are based on movie length and elements present in the movies. This year’s theme is Holiday horror movies and horror anthologies. Although I won’t be entirely writing about films in theme for my October posts, it wouldn’t quite feel right not mentioning it.
I’ve been interested in Mexican culture since I was about 5 years old. I started taking Spanish lessons when very young, however, I’m still not proficient at all in the language. In the early 2000’s I came across a lucha libre show on satellite television and I was wholly fascinated. It wasn’t until many years later that I got into wrestling and researched lucha libre more fully. The 60’s saw an explosion in the popularity of lucha libre in Mexico and like most things that are popular they seep into other parts of culture and in this instance it was cinema. Santo was and still is an extremely well known luchador and he also happened to become a major force on screen. He was in a large handful of films before his death.
Santo En La Venganza De La Momia from 1971 is about a professor who commissions an expedition to find the tomb of an Aztec prince to recover treasure, among those hired for the expedition is Santo. The movie opens up with a lucha bout between Santo, his tag partner, Rebelde Rojo, and Gori Casanova, his tag partner Dik Angelo. I always enjoy the matches shown in the films that star luchadores. It could be some of the only footage of the golden era matches. Dik Angelo actually lost his mask against Santo in a Lucha De Apuesta (a fight with wager) in 1968.
We cut to the professor’s office with Santo jaw jacking with the expedition team. It’s not long before they head out to find the treasure. After finding a guide, a grandfather, and his grandson Agapito (played by Santo’s son) they make their way through the jungle. They happen to come across a black panther and after a warning from Santo proceed on their way. Unfortunately, the panther was lying in wait and attacks Santo, who then wrestles the panther. It’s not a fake panther either, he literally is wrestling a panther. It’s a sight I was not prepared to see. They make it to the crypt and find the mummy which is actually a quite ghastly piece of effects. The guide warns of the curse of the Aztec prince and that he will return if his resting place is disturbed. That is what exactly happens too, the mummified prince returns to hunt down members of the expedition, including Agapito’s lovingly superstitious grandfather. There’s a twist in this film that I was not expecting but it doesn’t detract from the movie’s enjoyment. There is also another match in this movie where Santo fights Goliat Ayala.
If you’re a fan of lucha libre, genre films, Mexican pop culture, or any combination of the three, I recommend this film. Stay tuned for some more lucha-horror and other films starring wrestlers throughout the month.
On a side note I was able to go to a lucha libre show in Pittsburgh, Pa the past month. I met Shocker and Rey Bucanero there. You may know Shocker from Total Non Stop Action Wrestling or CMLL. I have been a fan of his since I started watching lucha and to meet him was wonderful! You can catch a replay of the event titled Lucha Fiesta on Fite Tv. Some of the stars that were on the show were Caristico (Sin Cara), Ultimo Dragon, Sam Adonis, and Joel Gertner (ECW)