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Santo en la Frontera del Terror

Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969) Movie Poster
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Mexico  •    •  85m  •    •  Directed by: Rafael Pérez Grovas.  •  Starring: Santo, Gerardo Reyes, Carmen del Valle, Carlos Suárez, Jean Safont, Federico Falcón, Miguel Ángel Fuentes, Sarita Gómez, Fernando Yapur, César García Gómez, Roberto Gómez, Sixto Hinojosa, Guillermo Ayala.  •  Music by: Francisco Salcido.
    A pair of desperate migrant workers cross the border into Texas in the hopes of raising the funds needed to restore the vision of a young girl, only to fall prey to a ruthless gang of black market organ dealers and a mad scientist.

Review:

Image from: Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969)
Image from: Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969)
Image from: Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969)
Image from: Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969)
Image from: Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969)
Image from: Santo en la Frontera del Terror (1969)
I just saw my first Santo movie today. I've heard about this type of film and was very curious to see one. After all, it's a pretty weird idea to have luche libre (Mexican wrestling) star running about solving crimes in a film complete with his mask! In other words, 'the Saint' was such a popular cultural icon that they made a long series of these films as well as some starring his son, El Hijo del Santo! For Americans, this is all pretty weird--a lucha libre-masked guy running about protecting the innocent, righting wrongs, fighting monsters and solving crimes!! While I know that it's hard to sum up all the Santo movies after seeing just one (after all, one COULD be a movie even greater than GONE WITH THE WIND...though I doubt it!), I also know that SANTO EN LA FRONTERA DEL TERROR is NOT among the most outrageous or silly films of the series--even though it's amazingly silly! In some, he even battles Frankenstein and the Wolfman, so by comparison this one is "normal".

This film begins with a wrestling match. Exactly who Santo is fighting seems irrelevant and by today's standards the wrestling is amazingly poor. Santo looks overweight, his moves are few and the quality of the film is pretty poor.

Following this, the film very abruptly switches locales. In fact, throughout the film the edits are very unprofessional and choppy. Now we see two Mexican men on the border talking about sneaking into the States to earn money. It seems one is in love with a local singer and her little sister who is blind. His plan is to earn enough to marry and have the child's eyesight restored. According to one of the men, Mr. Richards is a nice guy in America who will give them excellent wages and treat them well.

In the meantime, Santo meets the ladies and immediately promises to pay for the child's surgery. So why, then, do the men STILL need to sneak into America? And, why do we need to keep having the film punctuated by musical numbers--especially when the lady singing most of them can't really sing?! Well, the two men are shown running about with a couple other guys in their BVDs--crossing the river illegally....and it's broad daylight! Once in the States, Mr. Richards seems like a nice guy and welcomes them. However, it turns out Richards really has no idea what's going on at his ranch. There are armed soldiers AND brain-addled zombies who patrol the place for the evil doctor (who looks amazingly like George Kennedy with a goatee). It seems that the doctor makes money doing evil brain experiments on the workers as well as harvesting their organs! Until then, the men are beaten and made to work like dogs.

When nothing is heard from the two men for a week, the singing lady asks Santo to investigate. I was really hoping to either see him wading across the river or trying to go past a passport checkpoint wearing his mask, but instead they just appear at the Richards ranch, as Santo explains he had a match nearby. During all this time and the duration of the film, by the way, he leaves his mask on and only lets the blind girl feel his face when no one else is looking. Why? Is he a freak? Is he a wanted criminal? Or, does he just look like some unmuscled fat guy without it?

The last half of the film is really lame, as again and again, the inmates make escape attempts and then are caught and then overpower the doctor and are then captured again! Then, once Santo comes to the rescue, the same pattern occurs two more times!! Why didn't they just kill the doctor the first or second time they had the chance?! And, when the doctor catches them, why doesn't he do the same? Instead, he either ties them up or ties them up and places a time bomb in the room with them--with lots of time on it to allow for a leisurely escape! By the end, all the good guys are safe, the kid can see and the lady insists on singing again.

The film has nothing positive about it, other than it does provide lots of unintended laughs. The acting sucks, the editing really sucks, the direction sucks, the script sucks, the singing sucks, the wrestling sucks and the basic story idea of a hooded guy running around solving crimes is insane. Not the makings of anything other than a grade-Z film from Mexico. Heck, this film is so bad that it makes the three Aztec Mummy films from this country look good!! And yet, I have heard that there are definitely worse Santo films to be seen! Is it really possible?!?!


Review by planktonrules from the Internet Movie Database.