As much as 3 Dev Adam gleefully misinterprets Spider-Man and, to a lesser extent, Captain America and Santo, I have to give it up for Santo Y Blue Demon Contra Dracula Y El Hombre Lobo which misinterprets, as far as I can tell, none of its characters, but has a blast being on-point with them from beginning to end.
The title is, naturally, the plot. Mexican Luchadors Santo and Blue Demon (who I am gushing to report never once take their masks off in the film) fight Dracula and the Wolf Man (here named Rufus, and he puts in a game attempt to beat the two heroes for most ostentatious leisure-wear in the film). They also fight a heaping collection of quasi-vampiric zombies, but these are largely non-characters and not nearly so important. As for Dracula, however, what a pallid Hammer knock-off this guy is, roiling and masquerading in the oiliest idea of suave ever known to man, coming off more like a pick-up artist than a foul demon of the night. His sideburns are quintessential examples of the form, and even when he goes to sleep in his coffin, he does so in full regalia and even brings his cane with him.
He ain’t got nothing on Rufus the Wolf Man though. Or, specifically, he ain’t got nothing on Rufus’ shirt, which, like any good ’70s-baiting Santo film character, stays on whether he is human or wolf. Which, at the very least, means that Santo boasts the most Barry Gibb-esque Wolf Man ever to grace the screen. If that is something I never knew I wanted to see, I am now glad I have seen it.
Neither of which are Santo or Blue Demon, though, and also like any good Santo film character, Santo himself is on fine form throughout. Although, admittedly, not as fine a form as Blue Demon, who accomplishes far more in the film and generally seems to be in greater spirits. As a note, he is friend to Santo, which is curious in context of his complicated masked wrestling career which found him as a villain who eventually became a hero but still fought Santo and, fitting for this film, eventually beat him in a famous match. Which is all despite Santo largely retaining his god-like status as the premier Luchador in Mexican culture, although it is possible that he was so revered that he could afford coming off like a second fiddle to Blue Demon. Either way, let us all agree that the pageantry in all of this sport is a wonderful and beguiling thing.
A pageantry that persists in the film, for as anyone who is familiar with the cultural linchpin of masked wrestling knows, masked wrestlers do not take their masks off in public no matter what. Including in this film, which has the effect, unlike the relatively tame and human-like depiction of Santo in 3 Dev Adam, of elevating the heroes to a new pantheon of mystique. Especially when the two Luchadors play chess with one another. And play chess. And play chess. It is quite a long game of chess that they play in the middle of the film, and all the while, they are clad in their masks … along with, for Santo, a fresh tan turtleneck, and for Blue Demon, a mauve and purple sweater/smoking jacket set-up that is to die for. With this pair confronting them, evil would probably just turn itself in.
That they do, never really putting up much of a fight, and letting their minions do most of the talking, which is fair and fine for it allows Santo and co. plenty of room for smack-down in between the greatest chess matches ever captured on film, giving the film, at the very least, a nice breather from the rampaging excitement of, say, Blue Demon’s rook taking Santo’s bishop. The chess, though, isn’t even the half of it, but viewers really ought to experience Santo Y Blue Demon Contra Dracula Y El Hombre Lobo as virgins, so I do not wish to go into more detail. If you like bad movies, you should see it. Correction: you should run to it.
Also: both 3 Dev Adam and Santo Y Blue Demon Contra Dracula Y El Hombre Lobo were released in 1973. That year, it seems, Santo was sweeping across the globe, scorching the Earth, and then rekindling the crops and breathing life anew into the dust left in his wake. Doing the lord’s work, he was, and it is your duty as a human citizen to watch him in all his glory.
So how good is it really?: 1/5 (more of a real film than 3 Dev Adam, but an adamantly, aggressively bad one all the same)
But how “good” is it?: 5/5 (that chess scene would atone for a lot of sins, if the film had sins to atone for. But the film’s badness speaks for itself, and it is transcendental)