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Santo contra el Doctor Muerte

Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973) Movie Poster
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Mexico / Spain  •    •  95m  •    •  Directed by: Rafael Romero Marchent.  •  Starring: Santo, Carlos Romero Marchent, Helga Liné, George Rigaud, Antonio Pica, Mirta Miller, Maribel Hidalgo, Frank Braña, Lorenzo Robledo, Eduardo Calvo, Eulália del Pino, Betsabé Ruiz, Mario Álex.  •  Music by: Gregorio García Segura.
       After a famous painting is vandalized, mexican Wrestler "El Santo" is appointed by the Interpol to solve the case and is sent to Europe, once in Spain, he finds out that the painting got damaged so it could be replaced with a counterfeit and that a ring of art thieves is behind the crime. Now is up to him to bring them to justice and recover the stolen paintings.

Review:

Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
Image from: Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)
By the early 70s, Mexican wrestler Santo was a huge figure in Mexican cinema. However, his formula of action and comedy that was very successful in his horror/action films of the 60s, began to take a campier, kitsch tone during the 70s. Taking away the previous mystical origins of Santo and with an huge influence of Bond films, "Santo contra los Secuestradores" (1973) started the trend of Santo as an special Interpol agent. The same year, "Santo contra el Doctor Muerte" followed up this trend and perfected it the style creating the now familiar image of the suave wrestler-by-day/agent-by-night that Santo carried during the 70s.

The plot starts as mysterious criminal (Antonio Pica), damages the famous painting "Los Borrachos" during its exhibition on a Mexican museum. Spain's government demands an investigation and soon the Interpol suspects that Dr.Mann (Georges Rigaud), the man hired for the restoration of the painting is in fact behind its damage. Since his wrestling tour will take him to Spain, Special Agent Santo is called to work incognito. With the aid of agent Paul (Carlos Romero Marchent) Santo will infiltrate in Dr.Mann's castle in Spain to discover the mystery behind the painting's' damage, a mystery that involves the use of kidnapped women in bizarre scientific experiments.

Owing a lot to the 70s bond films, the movie feels like an update to the Santo's character and a follow up to the humanization of his character. Santo is no longer the mystical warrior or the crime-fighting scientist, he is an Interpol agent who uses his status as Wrestling champion to make his work easier. Rafael Romero Marchent handles the Bond-style action genre competently even when his work had been mainly on the Spaghetti Western sub-genre.

While not groundbreaking or particularly special, Rafael Romero Marchent makes a film that works despite its limitations and successfully mixes the Bond-esquire elements with the Santo mythology paving the way for the iconic figure Santo would become during the 70s. Like in his westerns, Romero Marchent makes good use of his locations and the film looks very good for its low-budget. Something very remarkable are the action sequences that, albeit short, work extremely well and are among the most realistic on a Santo movie.

Santo looks more comfortable in this new take on his character than in his early films. He is now a less superhuman character and is relatively more believable than his previous incarnations. Carlos Romero Marchent is very good as Paul, but with the exception of some great scenes, the potential of his character is never exploited. Antonio Pica and Georges Rigaud are superb as the villains and they are probably among the best actors in the cast.

Although not a kitsch extravaganza like the previous "Santo contra la Hija De Frankenstein", the movie is entertaining and filled with Santo's light-hearted comedy (both voluntary and involuntary). The campy tone of the previous films is still here but the approach, as other aspects in the movie, is based on the style of Bond films. This may probably be a flaw as fans of Bond-style action films may not like the Santo elements and at the same time, fans of typical Santo films may feel like the Bond elements are not part of Santo.

"Santo contra el Doctor Muerte" is definitely a love it or hate it movie. In my opinion the mix works and while it is not a perfect film it makes good entertainment for 95 minutes. 6/10


Review by José Luis Rivera Mendoza from the Internet Movie Database.