Another feature of...
for March 2002
The Mighty Jungle
Plot: Two guys in different movies pretend they’re in the same one.
We open on the Jungle Movie producer’s best friend: Stock footage. From a floating boat we pan down along the bank of a river. Elephant roars and jungle drums are heard on the soundtrack. This is fortuitous, as it helps clue in the locale for those confused by the film’s title. Following the credits we cut to what look to be outtakes from Hatari! Since that’s one of my favorite films, I’m already looking upon our current feature with a somewhat jaundiced eye.
As we watch men in a Hatari!-esque truck chasing wild animals in a Hatari!-esque fashion, a narrator begins filling us in:
"The team you are watching in action has one great passion in life. Danger! The Thrill of the Chase, the Excitement of a Kill, the lay-your-life-on-the-line gamble that spells… Adventure!"
We meet our cast. (Well,
OK, we meet one of the two people who make up our cast.) Marsh Connors is
the group’s cameraman. He’s played by Marshall Thompson, well known
– OK, not well known -- for playing the lead in Bog. Mr.
Thompson was one of a breed of journeymen character actors common in the
1960s and ‘70s. Due to numerous movie and, especially, TV appearances,
they provided viewers with a familiar face, even when their names didn’t
readily come to mind. Unsurprisingly, given the sort of career Mr.
Thompson had, he occasionally popped up in genre projects. In 1955 it was Cult
of the Cobra, while ’58-59 saw him assaying lead roles in First
Man in Space, It! The Terror from Beyond Space and, most
memorably, Fiend Without a Face.
We start with Thompson’s
half, which, as already noted, was obviously meant to ape the then recent
Hatari! This opening segment is quickly over and done with. (Although I’ll
bet it was prominently played up in the coming attraction trailers.)
This short sequence will be the only time the two actors actually appear together on screen. Presumably it was filmed at an airport to save time: One or both of the actors flew in, filmed their short bit, and flew back out again. By the way, it’s pretty apparent that actor David DaLie is, in this scene, several years older than he is in the rest of the film. Although it’s only three years later, DaLie’s put on some weight, and also lacks the beard and mustache he sports in the film proper – if you can call it that.
We cut to another slab of jungle stock footage. The Narrator continues yakking, indicating that he will be a continuing part of the proceedings. Here he waxes philosophic about the dangers that lie under The Jungle’s mask of beauty. "But Man, who has tamed every mountain, conquered the deepest depths of the ocean, pierced the far reaches of outer space, has yet to win his ageless, epic struggle against The Jungle." Actually, I’m impressed. I didn’t know we’d "conquered" the "deepest depths of the ocean" by 1964, much less reached "the far reaches" of space. I mean…that’s pretty far, those reaches. Space being quite big and such.
To illustrate the Narrator’s current theme regarding the dangers of the bush, we soon are shown a tree sporting a shiny white human skull in the crook of its branches. A skull with the jaw still attached, of course. The Narrator says the title again – it can now officially be the subject of a drinking game – and we hook back up with Dave Reardon, who is now, we’re informed, only "another victim." Lost in the jungle, and with stock footage vultures flying over him, Reardon is purportedly in bad shape. (Although I note he still has his rifle.)
Our Intrepid Explorer -- or Ravager of Nature, if that’s your bag -- comes across some fruit. Unfortunately, unlike us he can’t hear the Narrator. The latter explains that the fruit is forbidden, since it’s "like peyote, like LSD, one bite distorts the mind." Soon after eating the fruit Dave collapses. As the (stock footage) vultures wait to pick him clean, he hallucinates – I think – finding the ruins of an Aztec or Mayan city. Hearing music, Reardon spies some natives performing human sacrificial rites. "A horrible dream," the Narrator queries, "or reality?" (Wow!) Dave tries to interrupt the sacrifice but instead ends up a captive. The victim is killed anyway.
Locked in a cell, Reardon finds other bodies, apparently those of the rest of his expedition. Meanwhile, the Narrator keeps playing the "Is this really happening or is it a drug-based hallucination?" game. Since the editing makes the film kind of confusing to start with, this stuff ain’t helping much. Finding a valuable statue, Reardon tries to make off with it. However, he’s interrupted by the appearance of some large snakes. "[Reardon’s] very presence challenged by slithering, slimy denizens of darkness," the Narrator explains, as the snakes appear in the bright sunlight, "waiting to squeeze the life from his body." Apparently highly allergic to stuffed dead snakes, Reardon appears to be in bad shape as one such creature wraps around him. However, he manages to use a rock to re-kill it. I sincerely hope I’m not making any of this sound at all exciting, by the way, because it isn’t.
Next Reardon is running around outside. This would seem to support the hallucination theory, since he had just been locked in a cell. On the other hand, given the sort of film we’re talking about it could just be a continuity error. Anyway, everywhere he runs he sees lots of snakes. However, since they are all rather torpidly laying around in the hot sun, and since Reardon has plenty of room in which to run around them, they seem less than completely menacing. Meanwhile, he has flashbacks to the sacrifice. We know these are drug flashbacks because singers are going "ahh-ahh!" in the background and the footage sometimes flashes negative. Escaping back in the jungle, he collapses.
Back to civilization. "By what miracle can a man escape the clutches of The Mighty Jungle?" the Narrator asks. Take a drink, everybody. A recovered Reardon is being released from the Municipal Mental Institution – yes, the sign’s in English -- after his ordeal. Still, he’s tormented by the fact that the rest of his expedition died back in the jungle. He’s also broke. He almost stoops to stealing a child’s sandwich, but is beaten to it by a dog. (!!) Sometimes it’s just not your day. Oh, and the Narrator says "Mighty Jungle" again. At this rate everyone who’s not a confirmed alcoholic will be unconscious by the time the film’s half over.
Reardon goes to visit locale fat cat Pietro, whose mansion is full of Aztec artifacts. In one of the funnier scenes here, Pietro – complete with red and black checkered smoking jacket and tam-o’-shanter (??) cap -- harangues Reardon for leaving his [Pietro’s] brother Juan behind in the jungle. However, they don’t bother to loop in this dialog, so we just watch the actor gesticulate wildly and pop his eyes while the Narrator fills us in on what he’s saying. It’s like a South of the Border version of The Creeping Terror or The Beast of Yucca Flats. Reardon is to hook up with an Antonio Lupe, who will help search out the missing Juan. (Who, unless everything we saw was a hallucination, is dead.)
Here we cut back to Marsh in Africa. He’s doing advance work on a *cough, cough* deep Congo film project. For some reason – IITS, most likely – the local authorities will only allow him to do so if he goes into the jungle unarmed. (??) Soon he’s flying over another big batch of stock footage, all while the Narrator drones on and on. By this point the film’s starting to come within spitting distance of Jungle Hell’s epic stock footage percentile. (When the Narrator introduced a certain segment of stock footage by noting, "Elephants, everywhere", I could almost hear Dr. Freex screaming.) "Walk lightly, Connors," the Narrator advises. "This is the jungle of the Congo." Yeah, we got that, thanks.
More things occur. Since I’m less sadistic than the filmmakers, I’ll spare you an in-depth description. Although "stuff happens, and then more stuff happens" pretty accurately covers it. I should, however, emphasize the absence of the modifiers "interesting" or "exciting" in that depiction.
Marsh soon makes peace with a potentially dangerous pygmy tribe by plying the first one he meets with cigarettes. Good one, Bwana. (Of course, if you’re worried about being eaten by a lion every day, cigarettes probably don’t seem like much of a threat. And it’s not like he’s planning to kidnap them and use them as slave labor in his chocolate factory.) Here we get into a rather weird and tasteless dissertation by the Narrator. "It’s been asked why pygmies are so dangerous when their territory is invaded," he lectures, as a topless pygmy woman joins Marsh and the native. "From earliest times normal-sized men have been sexually curious about the perfectly formed pygmy women. Unable to stop the raping of their wives and sweethearts [!!], they retreated to the deepest recesses of the jungle." Yes, I guess that really does explain it.
Having made friends, Marsh is invited to join a pygmy hunting party. This involves stringing a long net between a line of trees. Then pygmy beaters start herding their prey towards the net. They catch a pygmy gazelle, fittingly enough, and head back to the village. Then we get some footage of various native dances and such. I had assumed this was stock footage, but there’s Marsh in a number of the shots, so at least some, if not all, of it was actually filmed for this movie. (Well, maybe not this movie, but you know what I mean.) Then Marsh has a run-in with some elephants. Down, Freeman, it’s all right.
Back in South America Reardon is nearing his rendezvous with Antonio Lupe. Hidden in his massive amphibious (!) truck are a small boy and his dog. It’s a bad sign, I think, when a movie is ripping off its ideas from Speed Racer. Anyway, the lad splits and is never seen again, so I guess this was just ‘color.’ Then Our Hero roams around looking upon various travelogue footage. "Dave’s questions [as to where he might find Lupe]," the Narrator explains, "sends an eavesdropper scurrying to warn a beautiful girl. Orica. Wild. Primitive." The girl, that is, not the film’s stereotypes of South American natives. "Ordained by the gods to marry the Jungle Man," the Omniscient Narrator continues. I guess he means Lupe. By the way, I’m going to call him "ON" from now on, as I’m tired of typing "Narrator" all the time.
"A foreigner alone," the ON blathers on, "in search of a man he doesn’t know. ‘Speak to the Dancer of the Mask of Gold,’ his one cryptic clue." By now the guy was sounding so much like the narrator of The Beast of Yucca Flats that I kept waiting for him to explain how Dave was caught in the Wheels of Progress.
Dave luckily spots some native dancers and asks one guy, who doesn’t have a gold mask, if he’s Lupe. The fellow patiently explains he isn’t. At this Dave looks stumped and ready to give up. Luckily, though, Lady Script smiles upon him. "Thinking that Reardon has come with money for her future mate," the OM explains, as Orica appears, "Orica points him out." Looking in the direction she’s pointing, Dave spots a man near a fountain. When the camera returns to Our Hero two seconds later, we get a bit that’s pretty funny for its sheer pointlessness. Looking around in a confused fashion, Reardon finds that, as the OM explains, "Mysteriously, weirdly, Orica vanishes." Oooh, yes, spooooky. "An ominous chill plays over Reardon’s spine," we’re told. Why would the chill be ‘ominous’?
Lupe heads over to look at Reardon’s truck, and Dave joins him. Now, since we’ve seen Reardon walking all around, there’s no way he should be in sightline of his vehicle, but anyway. "I’m a jungle man, too," Dave tells him. Lupe’s reputation must be pretty widespread, since Dave’s only been in town ten minutes and yet knows of Lupe’s…profession, I guess. Even so, Lupe refuses to guide Reardon into the bush. Anyway, after Dave speaking one whole line, the OM resumes his duties. "Reardon assures [Lupe] that he has invaded many jungles," we’re told. Dave offers Lupe a rifle if he’ll go with him to see the "High Priest." Apparently Dave somehow knows that Lupe can’t take the job unless the Priest OK’s it. Taking the gun, Lupe agrees.
So soon they are conversing with the High Priest. This worthy refuses to give his consent. "Dave learns that Lupe’s reluctance is born of a primitive superstition, that to face the jungle with an outsider means death." Actually, I wouldn’t call that a ‘superstition,’ I’d call it common sense. The jungle’s a dangerous place to start with, much less when leading a tenderfoot around. Of course, Dave’s invaded many jungles, so I guess Lupe would probably be OK. The Priest still ain’t buying it, though. Being sort of a Jungle Lawyer, however, Reardon has a dodge. He’ll mingle his blood with Lupe’s and they’ll be more or less blood brothers. Then Dave officially won’t be an outsider anymore. The Priest agrees, and they cut their wrists and clasp them together. Meanwhile this is all being watched surreptitiously by Orica, who’s none too pleased by these events. "In her eyes, the outsider has tricked the Priest, and will bring death to Lupe."
Dave and Lupe head out in his amphibious truck, taking the road as far as it goes. Meanwhile, the OM explains, Orica has hidden herself in the truck. I guess the stowaway from before was to show us how she might do this. On the other hand, you might think that after finding a kid on board that Reardon would decide to check the truck before leaving. Really, shouldn’t a Jungle Man be a little more methodical?
Eventually, we sees them motoring down the river. I mean, why give the hero an amphibious truck and not use it, right? Besides, it provides the two with plenty of opportunity to look upon swathes of stock footage and eat up some of that running time. And hey, if you have footage of an alligator eating a turtle, who wouldn’t use it, eh? Well, OK, it’s more like separate shots of a gator and a turtle that they cut together to foster the impression that one’s eaten the other, but still, the point holds. Am I right? No, seriously, that wasn’t a rhetorical question; I was looking for an answer.
Dave and Lupe switch to a canoe and continue down the river. "Another face of The Mighty Jungle," the OM notes, triggering another round of drinks. Unsurprisingly, this ‘face of the Jungle’ is represented with further stock footage. Most interesting is that of a hippopotamus. This, fittingly, is seen hugely yawning. You might be wondering what a hippopotamus is doing in South America, but what are you asking me for? What am I, Marlin Perkins?
Oops, my mistake, that was just an incredibly sloppy segue. I think. Anyway, after spying the yawning hippo we see Marsh. He stops to look at the stock footage, er, hippos. "To the Beasts of the Jungle," the ON intones, "Man and his weapons are nothing." Yeah, just try to take out a giraffe with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. I dare ya! Of course, maybe the animals are unconcerned because, as we were earlier told, Connors in fact isn’t carrying any weapons. Not that a flamethrower or .50 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle would mean anything, anyway! "Regally they ignore him," we’re informed. "With equal disdain, they would stampede over him, crush him, rend his flesh into quivering, lifeless shreds." You might think that the fact that the shreds were ‘quivering’ would indicate that they do, in fact, possess some last vestige of life. Well, what are you asking me for? What am I, Marlin Perkins? (That guy knows everything.)
Despite the fact that the ON just told us Connors was in "no man’s land," we now see him in a canoe being paddled by four natives. Perhaps the Narrator is the sort of guy who thinks ‘no man’s land’ is anywhere you aren’t given a serviette with dinner. Meanwhile, Connors just sits on his ass, looking around at all the mismatching stock footage as the natives propel the craft. You know, I’m not Joe PC or anything. But dude, at least grab an oar! You’re embarrassing all of us!
We see some footage of flora, and apparently that’s now our segue cue – we saw some similar stuff before cutting to the hippo – because sure enough we now return to Reardon and Lupe. (At least Dave is helping row the canoe.) They come to shore. "Reardon’s thoughts are on the trek ahead," the ON drones. "When will The Jungle strike its first, protesting blow against his invasion of its inner territory?" You might think this ominous musing would be underscored with footage of, say, a poisonous snake or something equally dangerous. However, it instead is heard over a close-up shot of an aardvark. Which somewhat lessons our dramatic tension. Still, if some sort of mysterious shrink ray were to suddenly reduce Reardon and Lupe to the size of ants, man, they’d be screwed.
"That volcano!" the ON continues, as we cut to stock footage of a volcano. "A checkpoint, fifty jungle-infested miles distant." ("Jungle-infested"?) Needless to say, we next watch a stock footage of a small furry pig killing a snake. It just stands to reason. This illustrates the ON’s latest remark, to the effect that "every inch of the way, an arena of mortal combat." Wow!
Our Two Adventurers end up at a remote outpost. "Reardon appeals for guides and horses," the ON says as Dave converses with a smiling, head-nodding man. "Consent is reluctantly given." Must be some mighty friendly folks if that’s how the reluctant ones act. Soon the party is on horseback, riding through some countryside. The ‘guides’ ride in the rear. (??) They come to a tall cliff sporting a scenic waterfall. Meanwhile, they are being covertly trailed (on foot!!) by Orica. She yet believes that the expedition will mean Lupe’s death, and is hopes to somehow prevent this.
In a none-too exciting sequence, a small amount of rocks fall from the cliff face. Instead of retreating, the various characters just sit there on their horses, looking up and swiveling their heads around. The fact that they don’t even bother moving away somewhat defuses whatever suspense the filmmakers were going after. Still, the guides take it as a sign or something and refuse to go any further. They also demand the horses back. Because that’s what guides do in this sort of thing. Needless to say, Reardon and Lupe press on. Soon they come to Ye Olde Rickety Footbridge, which spans, of course, a river. Beyond it lies the potentially dangerous Haranga [sp?] tribe. *Gasp* Will they be greeted as friends, or foes?
Both, I guess. I mean, the Haranga unleash a fusillade of spears at our Intrepid Leads, but they are wafted more than thrown. Either that or they let the village’s seven year olds toss them for practice. In any case, the two explorers retreat back to the opposite shore. Now their only option is a hazardous climb up the cliff. Or so we’re told; still, their ascent clearly isn’t likely to break onto the ‘Ten Most Difficult Climbs Ever’ roster. Perhaps noticing this, they have the ON come back on to try to stir our interest. "First the avalanche, then the Harangas," he notes, "now this. The Jungle has released its full fury on Reardon." Hmm, let’s see: A dozen rocks fall several yards away from him, then some sticks are casually heaved in his general direction, then a climb that would be rejected as insufficiently rigorous for a celebrity episode of Fear Factor. And the ON didn’t even mention the aardvark. I don’t know who The Jungle’s agent is, but if this represents its "full fury," then he deserves every cent he gets for somehow getting it billed as "Mighty."
Anyway, Reardon ‘saves’ Lupe after he has a spectacularly unconvincing near-fall whilst ascending. Then, right near the top – gee, how’d they ever get so far – Reardon runs into a deadly rubber snake placed on the rocks above him. Luckily, it can only move when it’s not in the same shot with him (not to mention that it then changes appearance), so he’s able to toss it over the side. Somehow, someway, they’ve made it. Here the ON comes back, striving desperately to convince any viewers still awake that danger lurks around every piece of stock footage. "Somewhere in that vast green sea of fury," he says, "Reardon waits for the next blow to be struck."
Still, we’ll have to wait to find out, because we now cut back to Connors, who’s standing around watching some stock footage of, that’s right, elephants. Why, it’s like they have their own life-cycle! The elephants are in a river – hmm, I know this reminds me of something – but after a short bit of this we move on. Soon Marsh is back in his native-powered canoe. Like his former partner, Marsh is approaching the territory of a potentially dangerous people. "Ahead – the country of the Mangatus [sp?]" the ON explicates, "once the most barbarous of the cannibal tribes." We here meet the Mangatus, and other than head-binding their female toddlers, meant to elongate the skulls of the tribe’s women, they seem harmless enough. Actually, the scariest thing about them is when a woman is groomed and ends up with a Don King hairdo. Oh, and let’s just say that the National Geographic rule is fully in effect here, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, we’ve still half an hour to kill, so we watch the villager do the inevitable ceremonial dance. Do I have to point out that all this stuff is stock footage, supposedly being ‘watched’ by Marsh. First they flash their shields. "Now the Manga-tu flutes," the ON explains, sounding like he’s narrating Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I’m assuming the Whang-Toozlers will be rolled out next. This all goes on for quite a while, with occasional insert shots of Connors to remind us that he’s right there watching all this. Next Marsh watches as some natives train…elephants. (Man, I’ve got to remember to break this out when Dr. Freex shows up for B-Fest next year.) I want to be fair, so I’ll note that Connors actually appears in this scene.
Well, enough of that excitement, so we switch back to Dave and Lupe. We see them forage for food. How captivating! Then we see them at their overnight camp. Reardon is asleep, Lupe on watch. Then Orica shows up with a knife. (Gee, how did she get up the ‘unclimbable’ cliff face?) Presumably she’s decided to knock off Reardon so that Lupe will be forced to return home. Yep, there she goes, kneeling over his sleeping form. Luckily, she goes about her task very slooowly. This allows Lupe, who manifestly isn’t the world’s most observant watchman, to finally notice her and intercede before the dastardly deed is done. They struggle, then start briefly making out – I wonder what the awakened Reardon is making of all this – before he sends her away. Lupe then explains the whole thing to Dave, who sort of shrugs it off and goes back to sleep. Oddly, neither of them even mentions the horrific dangers Orica will presumably face as she heads back through the -- uh, how’d that go again? – oh, yeah, the "vast green sea of fury" that is The Jungle.
The next morning our adventurers continue on through more greenery and stock footage. They see some army ants – sure, I’d be sticking my face real close to them too -- and a cute baby monkey, and a longish sequence featuring some tussling iguanas. Next Reardon grabs a fruit or something off a tree. He then cuts off a slice as Lupe takes care to pointedly look in another direction. Then, just at the last second, Lupe sees Dave lifting the fruit towards his mouth and warns him that it’s poison. (How did this guy survive all these trips into the jungle, for Pete’s sake? And what’s the point of engaging a local guide if you’re not going to consult him on stuff like this?) Whew! That was…too close!! I wonder if the film’s promotional poster had taglines screaming "See… heroic adventurers feed a pygmy banana to a baby monkey! See…lizards violently hissing at one another! See…a supposedly experienced explorer pluck something he knows nothing about and almost eat it!"
Dave stops to ‘watch’ an armadillo meet up with a snake. Then he stops to ‘watch’ a tarantula sparring with a scorpion. Please, somebody, kill me. Then they get to a river and start building a raft. Hey, look, the character in this film…doing something! Amazing! I guess they didn’t have stock footage of someone else building a raft that Reardon and Lupe could watch.
Then back to Africa. Marsh is hitching a ride in some boats yet another tribe is paddling down a river. I particularly liked the shots of the standing oarsmen’s asses as they hunch over to use their oars. Then Connors makes it – just at the last second – aboard an actual ship going somewhere. Then we cut back to our South America duo. Still, I’m glad we took a moment to check back with Marsh. I wouldn’t have missed seeing him get on that ferry for the world.
So Reardon and Lupe are doing a Huck Finn down the river. Soon they hit some mild rapids, with stock footage of more dangerous waters cut in to make it more suspenseful. This causes them to jump from their raft – just at the last second -- and continue on foot. Then they see a stock footage alligator, and a bird, and then, finally, approach the area (supposedly) where Reardon’s party met with disaster. Meanwhile, we see about half a dozen more shots of miscellaneous animal stock footage. Then Lupe comes across a lurking snake. This ‘bites’ him on the leg and he yells for help. Reardon runs over, kills the snake, and, duh, sucks the poison out of Lupe’s wound. Boy, greater love hath no man, huh?
Let’s see what the last thirteen odd minutes hold for us: Reardon carries Lupe off, we see more animal stock footage, the ON blathers on some more, Reardon kills a rubber lizard and cooks it up for dinner, Lupe remains more or less unconscious, we cut back to the ship carrying Connors, the ON blathers on some more, we cut back to Reardon and Lupe, we see more animal stock footage, Reardon carries Lupe off, they meet another stock footage tribe of natives, Reardon pleads for them to help Lupe but waves a gun at them at the same time (?), he carries Lupe off, the ON blathers on some more, we see more animal stock footage, Reardon carries Lupe, we see more animal stock footage, Reardon puts Lupe down and is attacked by an alligator, is dragged into a river and struggles with it – not the most convincing thing I’ve ever seen-- Orica shows up (??), Reardon struggles with the alligator, he eventually gets et – yay! – we cut back to Connors on the boat, the ON blathers on some more, we cut back to a nude Orica bathing under a waterfall (??), a fully recovered Lupe shows up and expositories that they are now married, then he and a dressed Orica kiss…The End.
Summary: Jungle Hell II -- Stock Footage Boogaloo.
Plot: A Hong Kong distaff RoboCop, with much more sex and nudity.
If you’re going to watch this, make sure and get the Media Asia disc. Its English subtitling is as bad as the usual English dubbing. Anyway, any ‘dialog’ I record here will be transcriptions of said English subtitles.
Madam Lin – sometimes called "Linda," who I guess her name is Linda Lin – is a police detective. Currently she’s running a detail guarding a Sheik’s son. When he takes a Roman-style bath with a bunch of naked floozies, she gets all huffy and leaves the room. (Given the guy’s ass shot, I almost did the same.) Interesting. In an American film, such a character would more likely shrug it off to show that she’s one of the boys. And, since this is a Hong Kong film, Linda’s none too subtle about her distaste, either. Veteran watchers of Chinese films, not to mention Japanese ones, etc., know that the acting style often remains as broad as that in our silent films.
As the Prince frolics with his gaggle of chippies – I think ‘gaggle’ is the correct plural form of chippies, although perhaps ‘gargle’ should be considered – gas erupts from the air vents, knocking everyone out. A man, unaffected by the gas, enters the room and grabs up the Prince, hauling him off. He exits the room, coming across Linda in the lobby. She reaches for her gun but is shot through the chest with a large caliber pistol. The kidnapper leaves a videotape near her body. Linda is taken to the hospital, but dies. Her boyfriend Chou, a fellow detective, is naturally bereft.
The next scene is where the film’s goofiness level really takes off. The Sheik, unaware his son has been abducted, is attending a commercial Robot Expo (!). Robotics expert Dr. Sara, dressed in the traditional scientist’s bustier, points him out to her equally beauteous assistant Anna. "He plans to organize a Robot Legion," she explains. (Like Israel doesn’t have enough problems.) "No wonder so many countries are participating," Anna replies. Then the show begins, as an announcer promises, "The show of the latest android models from around the world."
First up is a German android, which of course sports a blond crew cut and Terminator sunglasses. He hangs from gymnasium rings above the stage, so as to demonstrate his skills at, I guess, hanging from rings. He also wears an extremely fey outfit, presumably to show that androids will never become distracted through embarrassment or shame. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, this android does sport the latest in titanium terbium metal alloys. Powered by "electrical currents of 100 million watts," they are, as you’d expect, "the ultimate fighting machines." At this claim a really big Chinese guy challenges the android. "I’ll beat you with my shear size," he boasts. Needless to say, human vs. android works about as well as human vs. bus, and the guy is nonchalantly humiliated.
Then an American robot manufacturer appears, challenging the Germans’ android to a fight. The American model, he claims, is much superior. To prove this, the android leaps onto stage, and we see that it looks even goofier than the German one. I especially like the long Rambo hair and the cutout chest on its black bodysuit. The two androids begin fighting, and let’s say that memories of the Terminator tussling with the T1000 will not immediately come to mind. Both robots end up damaged. The German one goes down. Worse, the American one goes berserk.
Various dimwitted humans attempt to subdue the rampaging robot, with predictable results. (Man, somebody’s gonna get sued big time, here.) Eventually, the Sheik himself is menaced. This is, however, the perfect opportunity for Dr. Sara to introduce her robot. Shaped like a woman wearing a plastic mask – to indicate that it hasn’t been made to look completely human yet – it springs into action and beats down the errant android. Suitably impressed, the Sheik invites Sara to participate in developing his Robot Legion. Here the cops make their appearance. "His Highness [the Prince] was kidnapped on a visit by a mysterious person," the Police Chief reveals. The Sheik reacts with shock, although I don’t know if it’s towards the news or the cop’s odd diction.
The videotape left behind contains a message from a Dr. Yamamoto. He’s a renegade scientist who wanted to create the Sheik’s Robot Legion. Sara knows of him. "As he went to [sic] far in robot research," she explains, "the Japanese Government issued a restraint order." Yamamoto’s research was in transferring a human’s intelligence into a robot, since their primary weakness is that their artificial minds aren’t equal to human ones. This technique is known, but considered dangerous. "We can control a robot," Sara muses (except for the one that attacked the Sheik, I guess), "but we can’t control robot [sic] with human mind, because we can’t control human mind."
On the tape, Yamamoto is donning a traditional mind-transference skullcap. "He intends to feed his own thoughts into the robots [sic]," Sara gasps, just in case we’ve never seen a sci-fi movie before. Then Yamamoto is seen handling a knife. "Only the dead people’s thoughts are transferable," Anna expositories. (Anyone seeing where this is going?) Sure enough, Yamamoto plunges the knife into his abdomen. He falls dead, but the robot on the other table soon rises. We see that it’s the ‘man’ who kidnapped the Prince. Moreover, he’s been programmed to laugh manically.
The tape also had a letter with it. Addressed to the Sheik, the Chief gives it to Anna to read. (??) It doesn’t reveal anything we didn’t know. Sara offers to have the Eve unit – the female shaped robot introduced earlier – help to capture Yamamoto. The Chief is skeptical, though, that Eve can be reconfigured to look totally human. (Despite the fact that Yamamoto’s robot body does.) Here Sara slyly divulges that Anna herself is a robot. Anna proves it by pulling wide the latex skin around her mouth, revealing her mechanical innards. The Sheik and the Chief are suitably amazed.
"The best solution at this moment," Sara continues, "is to transplant the thoughts of that killed policewoman into Eve’s brain." This, presumably, so that one android with human intelligence can be set against another. (The morality of just zipping someone’s essence into a robot shell without their permission, though, is just ignored.) The problem here is Anna. She seems as smart as any human throughout the movie, but we never get any indication that she was a mind transferee. This seems unlikely, anyway, in that Sara earlier frowned on Yamamoto’s experiments in this area. On the other hand, she doesn’t seem very bothered by the idea now.
That night, the Chief has Linda’s body covertly wheeled out of the hospital. Her corpse is taken to ZONE XI, which isn’t the name of a fashionable restaurant but instead Sara’s lab. The set design here is like something S.M.E.R.S.H. would have come up with. In a shot that only the world of Asian cinema would do these days, the sheet is pulled back from Linda’s naked body. (The lower naughty bits of which are obscured by Ye Olde Strategic Tray. Paging Austin Powers!) I’m not sure why she has to be uncovered for the procedure, but it does allow us to ogle the bullet wound prosthetic positioned between the lead actress’ suspiciously ample breasts. Damn Chinese.
The transference commences, in a sequence that was presumably inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. In a bit more fantasy than sci-fi, Eve magically assumes Linda’s appearance, hair and all, as the procedure continues. Despite the juvenile – not to mention twisted -- prurience of the nudity here, I had to laugh when the operation was complete and we were treated to the sight of tables holding two identical nude Lindas, one with bullet wound, one without. Somebody here really wanted to do things right. Here Linda’s old body is covered with a sheet, presumably so as to reveal it to a shocked robot Linda in a few minutes.
Eve/Linda comes awake. Dr. Sara introduces herself -- this is actually the first time the character is named, twenty minutes into the movie -- and Anna. Naturally, Linda thinks she’s survived being shot and is still all human and everything. "You were too seriously wounded to be cured," Anna replies. Told that she’s a robot, she naturally flips out a little. (For some reason Sara isn’t tossed aside by Linda’s robotic thrashing.) You know, you really would think they’d have a better protocol for this sort of thing. Just telling someone, "Yeah, you died and then we made you a robot," seems a bit insensitive. She’s finally convinced when she examines her chest and sees it bereft of any sort of scar. Then they pull aside the sheet from Linda’s old body, revealing it to the shocked robot Linda. To give the film credit, Linda’s reactions here are well played. Moreover the special effects, with the two Linda’s both on screen, are pretty good.
Taken to the Police Chief’s office – clad in yellow panties (where did those come from?) and the semi-transparent surgical coat they gave her earlier (!!) – Linda complains about the whole "Who said you could put my mind into a robot" thing. Needless to say, this whole scenario raises myriad complex moral, not to mention legal, issues. Also needless to say, the film will largely ignore same. "Why didn’t you let me die," she moans. "Don’t ever say that," Sara answers. Being American, I assumed she was going to wax on about the value of Life and the Human Soul.
However, Sara is Japanese. Therefore she continues on to say, "Only by feeding human thoughts into Eve’s computer, can we cope with Ryuichi Yamamoto." Anna, proudly displaying her mighty robotic bosom in a low-cut bustier, concurs. "Physically you’re dead," she offers, "but spiritually, you can still serve the community." Oddly, Linda doesn’t protest that Anna’s a damn robot and what does she know. The Chief also tosses in his two cents. "Forget your past," he orders, "and work for our common goal." In other words, buck up, Linda, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ Being Chinese, Linda quickly falls into line. Her task is to help catch the man who killed her – there’s an odd sentence (though not too odd, for this sort of thing) -- who is, after all, "A mad robot, who undermines social security." I know what they mean. I’ll be paying taxes into that damn thing my whole life and get squat back by the time I retire.
That night Robot Yamamoto, wearing a Michael Jackson-esque studded leather jacket, goes to a bar. He attracts the attention of a prostitute, and begins massaging her breasts while stuffing bills into her bodice. The girl’s pimp appears and pulls Yamamoto into the washroom, demanding payment for the girl’s favors. Yamamoto reacts by punching the guy so hard that the imprint of his fist if cratered deeply in the guy’s stomach. Then he grabs the woman and they leave. This is followed by a typically appalling Hong Kong bit. For a luridly graphic but basically vanilla sex scene between the two soon turns into a sequence where the hooker is literally raped to death. None of which, sadly, is left to our imagination. Yuck. When this is done he angrily tosses her out a window, whereupon her body smashes into a parked car. We then get a last nude shot of her dead body. Yuck again. This is why I don’t watch all too many Asian movies. I’m just too squeamish.
The Chief informs the squad that Linda will be in charge of finding what they are told is a serial killer murdering prostitutes. (Needless to say, Linda’s robotic condition is being kept a secret as well.) Sara and Anna will be assisting in this. Chou, Linda’s boyfriend, if you can remember that far back, protests. "Sir," he says, "I know that psychic [sic] killer is a most dangerous person. I’m afraid these three fragile girls, may hamper our operation." The other detectives, however, don’t back him up. They’re too busy scoping out Anna’s cleavage. The Chief leaves, and the detectives all run over and start drooling over Sara and Anna. Linda, meanwhile, shows no irritation with Chou at being called a "fragile girl."
One detective slyly asks Anna if she’s afraid of confronting the "psychic [sic] killer." Sara responds that they’ve "undergone training." The cops scoff, asking for a demonstration. Anna agrees, and urges the men to rush her. They do, but merely use this as an excuse to rub their faces over her body and moan in pleasure. I don’t want to mis-describe this, the feel here isn’t particularly sexual, it’s more comic, as if a bunch of fourteen year-old boys were getting to hug a real-life girl for the first time. Although, frankly, such a tone is weird from a film that is at other times so sexually grotesque. Anyhoo. As a bunch of them clasp her, the last cop – we can tell he’s been assigned the formal Odious Comic Relief duty, because he’s fat and has a bad beard – rushes towards her with hands outstretched, meaning to grab her breasts. Seeing this, the guys let go of her and she punches the fellow out. Whereupon everyone laughs at him heartily, like at the end of a Star Trek episode.
Chou and Linda go out for a romantic dinner. Out of nowhere the film decides to clunkily insert a wad of characterization, so Chou begins explaining how he became acrophobic. (Plot point alert!) While a "petty cop," he saw a teenager steal an old woman’s ring – "I guess it weighted [sic] 0.3-4 tael," he comments (!!) – and chased the kid up onto the roof of a building. "I got over to grasp him, he scared, he fell down into the street." All while, apparently, "gazing at me with his fearful and hateful eyes till he fell down on the ground." I personally think Chou might be projecting a bit here. Anyway, ever since he sees the kid’s accusing glance whenever he looks down from a height.
Following this is a comic bit with the establishment’s strolling musicians that I’ll spare you. Then it turns out to be Linda’s birthday, a fact she’d forgotten. Let me get this straight: A girlfriend who forgets it’s her birthday, and a boyfriend who remembers. Yep, this is a science fiction movie, alright. He exhorts her to blow out the candle on the cake they wheel out, and Linda looks pensive, perhaps thinking of the whole, "Gee, I wish I weren’t a robot thing." Then she and Chou dance, which segues into a typical Beautiful Movie Sex scene, proving that Robot Linda is, as Mr. Data would say, "fully functional." This goes on rather longer than it strictly needs to, but that’s the kind of movie it is, I guess.
Linda apparently gossips with the girls, for the next day we see Anna excitedly chewing over the news. Apparently she has never, uh, fully interfaced with humans. (Which raises the question of why Yamamoto doesn’t just make himself an android lover, one that can go the distance with him. Of course, he’s a Mad Robot, so that probably explains it. Actually, now that I think about it, are you telling me that robots are generally built this way, but that Yamamoto never constructed one for himself back when he was human? Of course, he was an older man, and perhaps impotent…oops, sorry, I’m putting more thought into this than the filmmakers did. It’s a bad habit.)
Anna asks Sara how "human men make love." (Hmm, she doesn’t bother to ask how "human women" make love. Just what is her relationship with Dr. Sara anyway?) Her creator replies that "You won’t understand, unless you have human thoughts." Well, that’s cleared up, at least. Anna’s just a regular robot. Again, though, she seems as smart and intuitive as any of the human characters, which doesn’t make sense. Also, if she’s expressing sexual curiosity to this degree, I’m not sure why Dr. Sara would assume she wouldn’t "understand." I’m going to assume here that Anna is, uh, wired up to the degree that Linda is. Why bother if she’s never expected to have sex?
We cut to the detective squad’s office. With hookers being killed left and right, apparently, Chou decides that they must resort to your basic undercover stakeout. "You want us to play whores again?" the other, all male, detectives groan. (!!) Not so, he explains. We have three ready-made ones. This seems a little presumptuous, especially since Linda is his superior officer and Sara and Anna are…well…whatever they’re supposed to be. Consultants or something.
Meanwhile, without him seeing, the three women have entered the room. Linda asks what he’s speaking of. Fat Odious Comic Relief Cop, to Chou’s embarrassment, explains that he was suggesting the three play whores to lure the killer out. Chou is saved possible castration when Sara nods at the suggestion and says, "Good!" Since only one lady will be needed for this assignment, Anna volunteers. Gee, here’s her chance to experience sex. And in the best possible way, with a series of quickies with johns. How handy. (Although if my theory about Dr. Sara’s proclivities is correct, perhaps she does think this is the perfect way to introduce Anna to "how human men make love.")
Cut to a brothel, or massage parlor, or something. I’m not sure how this stuff works in Hong Kong. This is all accompanied by extremely wacky Comedy Music, so that we get the mirthful nature of the proceedings. Anna comes out in a skimpy dress, causing all the cops to drool. Then Linda leaves, allowing for further lowbrow hijinx as the juvenile squad of cops watch Anna’s, uh, activities over a TV monitor. This, of course, makes absolutely no sense. The whole point of creating Robot Linda was so that she could directly confront Robot Yamamoto. So why would she leave just when the stakeout is beginning?
A first customer appears, a nice middle class looking guy, needless to say, and, yes, we segue into another soft-core porn scene. Making this either more ‘comical’ (to weirdoes) or more distasteful (to the rest of us) is the ‘humorous’ reactions of the Horny Male Cops as they watch all this. Ho ho. Fat Odious Comic Relief Cop gets so "excited" he gets a nosebleed. (??) The hilarity continues when the john leaves only to pay immediately another fee and run back into Anna’s room. Ha ha ha. Then Fat Odious Comic Relief Cop notes that his shift is over. He leaves, following which a biker appears to request a session. Only the ‘biker’ is Fat Odious Comic Relief Cop in disguise, and his fellow officers chase him out of there. Ha ha ha.
The Chief and Linda come by to check out the situation. They find a really long line of dozens of men waiting to partake of Anna’s favors. See, it’s funny. With all the laughs wrung out of the situation (no big accomplishment), the Chief orders the operation closed down. Luckily, just luckily, right at that moment the cops notice one of their snitches in the line. They offer to let him off the hook permanently is he helps them find Yamamoto. Then we cut to, inevitably, a disco. It’s amazing, we gave up on discos after a year or two; meanwhile, they still thrive pretty much everywhere else. Anna, Sara and Linda are dancing in what I guess is a sexy manner, accruing much attention from the male patrons. Right on cue, Robot Yamamoto shows up in his trademark studded leather jacket. He notices Linda, and seems to find her strangely familiar.
Here we stop for another zany piece of business. A typically sex-crazed guy challenges Linda to a speed-drinking contest. She wins, because, as you might recall, she’s a robot. Then she heads into the bathroom, where she, uh, expels the liquid back into a brandy bottle via a plastic tube. It’s true, I guess: You don’t buy liquor, you rent it. Suddenly, just when we most expect it, Yamamoto pops up. They tussle enough for him to ascertain that she’s a robot, whereupon he runs off.
Linda chases him out onto the crowded dance floor. They start to fight again, and Anna runs over to help. For whatever reason, Yamamoto is stronger than either of his opponents. Probably because he’s a man robot. (Raising an interesting point: Even with superhuman strength, can Linda now open a pickle jar?) Having seen The Terminator, Yamamoto knows it’s kosher for super strong robots to pack heat, and he draws his gun and opens fire on the customers. This creates a panic and Yamamoto escapes in the confusion.
However, perhaps because Japan is such a tiny country, Yamamoto is quickly seen by Snitch Guy. Yamamoto is walking around with the Prince’s former bodyguards, who had been in on the kidnapping. Snitch Guy follows, but it’s a trap and he bites the dust. Well, that was a vital character. At the pathology lab, Sara gleefully notes that Snitch Guy’s body may yet prove useful. Kind of a creepy chick, our Dr. Sara. She tells the "corner" [sic], "remove his eyes for me, please." Viewing these under a microscope, she explains "When a man dies in emotion or terror, his image stays in the cells of his vision membrane." (Well said.) Linda sees where this is going. "Rearrange the cells through a computer before they die," she adds, "and you can see the image the deceased saw before death." Apparently the ladies gleaned their scientific knowledge from watching the movie Horror Express. Anyhoo, the image from Snitch Guy’s peepers – brought up on a computer monitor! -- includes the bodyguards, thus providing Our Heroines with a vital clue.
The bodyguard guys are next seen driving out to some desolate boondocks to meet with the superhumanly powerful homicidal maniac on whom they’re the only ones who knows anything. (Hmm, I sense there’s something wrong with this situation, but I can’t put my finger on it.) For some reason they’re all wearing really ugly double breasted white suit jackets. Maybe because blood squibs will show up real well on them. (Oops, sorry.) Yamamoto, carrying a suitcase and wearing spurs (?), appears. I guess this location was picked so that the scene would, in some fashion, parody a western showdown. Or something.
Meanwhile, watching this from atop the surrounding cliff face are our Three Heroines and Chou. (??) I’m not even going to worry about how they got here, especially since tailing a car driving through rural wilderness is a pretty much impossible business. To OUR IMMENSE SURPRISE, Yamamoto’s suitcase proves empty – he’s here to kill the only ones who know anything about him. (I think I’ve figured out what was wrong about this situation.) This is all very gorily done, which again highlights the film’s weird tonal changes.
With this plot thread wrapped up, Linda and Anna run down the side of the cliff (!) to engage their foe. This involves some marginally exciting Kung Fu and wirework and stuff, although nothing we haven’t seen before. Say what you will about Yamamoto, though, he builds good robot bodies. Thus he proves pretty much a match for both lady robots put together. Eventually Linda tosses a convenient nearby compressed air tank at her enemy. This Yamamoto catches but Sara puts a bullet into it and BOOM! (Dr. Sara is a surprisingly good pistol shot for a scientist, especially since she’s using a snubnosed revolver here.)
Proving really tough, Yamamoto has an arm blown off but is otherwise unharmed. Even weirder, considering the big fireball we saw, he’s also pretty much unscorched. Now, you might think this would be a good time to press the attack, since Yamamoto’s been disarmed. (Ha, ha, I’m so funny.) However, there’s a half hour of movie left, er, I mean, Anna’s leg has been injured also, so the group jumps into the bodyguards’ car and hauls off. Raising again the question of how they got out here in the first place.
Back at Zone XI, Linda works to keep Chou from entering the lab where Anna’s being repaired. (Because the whole ‘robot’ thing is still a secret.) Eventually, though, she has to spill the beans and explains that Yamamoto and Anna are robots. Chou reacts with incredulity. "Robot? I’m a Masked Rider then!" This from a guy who saw Yamamoto shrug off bullets and walk away from a large explosion. Not to mention all the superhuman mayhem he’s been wreaking. It should be noted that Chou was woozy from a hit and so still doesn’t know about Linda’s status. Although you think he’d have noticed Anna’s massively torn up robot leg on the drive back into town.
To prove what she’s saying is true, she takes him into an observation deck overlooking the lab. There he sees Dr. Sara replacing Anna’s leg. Soon Anna is good as new. With Chou now prepared, Linda spills the beans about being an android herself. Meanwhile, we see that Yamamoto’s also replacing his injured appendage. Then we see the Prince, just in case we forgot he’s in the movie. This also allows for another bit of pointless cruelty, as Yamamoto uses a drill on the Prince’s leg to shut him up. (Hey! ‘Drill,’ ‘another bit,’…I’m making jokes even when I’m not trying!) Which wouldn’t be my first instinct, but there you go.
Back to Linda and Chou. To prove what she says is true (why not just display her robot innards, as Anna did earlier?), she has taken him to her tombstone (!), which comes complete with her picture on it. (!!) Even if this is a custom in China, and many of the other stones seem to sport similar pictures, it seems kind of odd for someone who officially is still supposed to be alive. Then it’s back to Linda’s place, where she seeks to prove that she’s still the same old girl by removing her blouse. This seems at first to do the trick (!), but Chou puts a stop to things and takes his leave.
Sara and Anna get a ride from Fat Odious Comic Relief Cop – FOCRC from now on. Yamamoto then drives up and smashes into their vehicle. This prompts the inevitable car chase, albeit a short one. The good guys’ car crashes and they all run off on foot. Seeking shelter at the nearby police headquarters, they are spotted by Chou just as Yamamoto’s car speeds back into sight. (Oddly, we see that Anna doesn’t run any faster than the humans, which seems unlikely.) FOCRC pushes them to safety, dying a typically mean spirited death as a result. A bunch of cops unleash a fusillade of shots at his killer, but he shrugs them off and drives away. And although I bought Yamamoto not being brought down by this, I found it hard to believe that all those bullets slamming into his car wouldn’t have disabled the engine or blown a tire out. Moreover, none of the cops think to actually pursue Yamamoto. Instead, they just watch as he drives off, running over FOCRC’s body again for good measure (!).
Yamamoto has sent the Sheik a video the Prince being tortured, and the Sheik is close to giving in to Yamamoto’s demands. He gives the Chief three days to save his son, or he’ll do as Yamamoto wants. Meanwhile, Sara’s in the hospital. She’s pretending to be injured so as to draw Yamamoto out. (Her belief is that she’s now his prime target, for obvious reasons.) Sure enough, their foe appears outside the hospital that night. He ‘climbs’ up the outside wall – this is really badly done, and it’s obvious he’s being pulled up on a wire – and is soon stalking the halls of the establishment. This being a movie hospital, that means halls that are deserted and very poorly lit.
He quickly dispatches a guard with a huge bowie knife he tosses right through the guy’s open mouth (!). All I could think here was that, considering the heroes knew a superhuman killer would be showing up, it wasn’t very nice of them to assign a regular guard that they must have known would get killed. Yamamoto enters the room and closes in, but of course there’s only a dummy in the bed, not Dr. Sara. Suddenly Yamamoto is surrounded by screens that form an electric fence around him (?!), but he escapes by battering his way through the wall into the next room. Meanwhile, a dozen cops holding their guns drawn – where did they come from? – just watch as he does this, without anyone bothering to shoot.
Yamamoto leaps from a window to the courtyard below (oddly slowing down as he lands), and again is quickly surrounded by dozens of armed cops. He nonchalantly draws his own gun and shots a couple of officers, provoking the others to open fire. I’ve seen this before and it’s remains ever goofy – lots of guys standing in a circle and firing inwards, all without hitting anyone standing on the opposite side. Having a bit of an advantage in situations like this, Yamamoto soon breaks through and beats feet out of there. This leads to him being surrounded by more cops – there must be over a hundred by now – who again form a circle around him and begin plugging away, all without friendly fire casualties.
Anyway…holy crow, this thing’s getting long. Uh, let’s cut to the chase.
Things I Learned™ (Trademark Andrew Borntreger):
Summary: Generally amusing schlock, although I personally would have preferred it had two or three minutes of the cruder material had been excised.
Plot: The Man in the Silver Mask battles, well, wrestles, some less than omnipotent Martians.
Capitalism can be a beautiful thing. In an effort to establish itself alongside such genre DVD purveyors as Anchor Bay, Image, Synapse, etc, little VCI Entertainment has taken a major step forward. VCI in the past mostly released mid-priced discs of classic Hollywood product. Lately, though, they’ve been more aggressively courting the cult movie market. Perhaps looking for a market segment to call its own, VCI has just released Santo Contra La Invasion De Los Marcianos. And yes, unlike the late, somewhat lamented Beverly Wilshire company, this isn’t one of those dubbed K. Gordon Murphy adaptations. (This one, to my knowledge, never made it to American drive-ins.) Instead, it’s in the original Spanish with English subtitles.
I’ve never really done this before, but I urge anyone reading this to buy this disc. If it sells out VCI (or somebody else) is sure to release more of them. Also, I had a bit of difficulty getting mine, meaning that either they were poorly distributed or else are selling out pretty quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if these were being hawked on Ebay in six months at two or three times the current price.
Santo was Mexico’s most famous and greatest wrestler, his career lasting spanning 5,000 bouts and lasting over forty years. For those not up on their Mexican pop culture, their citizens really like their wrestling. And I mean, really, really liked. So much so that several prominent wrestlers had film series, especially in the ‘50s through the ‘70s. These included Blue Demon (with occasionally joined Santo in his on-screen adventures), Neutron, Batwoman and the more prominent Wrestling Women. More prominent, at least, to us gringos, since K. Gordon Murray brought such adventures as Doctor of Doom and Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy – a supernatural creature who had his own movie series – north of the border. Eventually Santo’s son, imaginatively billed as The Son of Santo, had his own short series of films. Like all the others, though, he never equaled his father’s success.
Santo, the Man in the Silver Mask – many Mexican wrestlers wore masks and kept their actual identity secret as a gimmick – was easily the Hombre Grande of this genre. He starred in something like fifty films over twenty-five years, beginning at the age of 40 in 1958. His last film was released in 1982, when he was 64 years old. Since these were Mexican pictures, he generally functioned as a Batman-esque superhero. In his time he battled gangsters, spies, vampires, werewolves, assorted mad scientists, and, of course, Martians. All while engaging in a seemingly endless number of wrestling matches in each film. A highlight inevitably involved a monster or alien covertly donning the mask of his opponent and confronting Santo in the ring. Santo was such an icon that he didn’t reveal his identity to the public until 1984, doing so on a TV program. Fittingly, he died less than a month later, at the age of 66, while actually wearing his mask! This beats even Bela Lugosi, who famously had himself buried in his Dracula cape.
We open with a not-bad montage of NASA space stock footage. There’s some genuinely spooky music accompanying this, and the sequence is altogether too competent for the film that follows. Also heard is the traditional Omnipotent Narrator, who queries – at least according to the disc’s English subtitles, "Is our planet the only one inhabited by rational beings like us? If so, will we conquer those other worlds?" (??) "Or, on the contrary, will their inhabitants come to rule us?" This leads into footage of a less than utterly sophisticated spaceship model, traveling to Earth on a wire. It’s better than the ones from Plan 9, but not by much. This imagery is accompanied by sound effects stolen from Forbidden Planet.
Purportedly inside this craft is a bunch of Martians, both male and female. Models of beefy ‘60s-style physical perfection, they sport Viking-esque big blond hair, big silver mushroom hats and silver spangley half-capes. In addition, the men are bare-chested and wear tights for pants and boots. The women, unsurprisingly quite buxom, wear the traditional silvery one-piece swimsuits and high-heeled shoes. They also have third eyes located on their foreheads, although we can’t really tell if these are meant to be organic or mechanical in nature. The females, of course, are largely superfluous and certainly not part of the chain of command.
The leader of the aliens is Argos or so he’ll name himself later. He cautions his crew to speak only in Spanish, since "it is the language used in the country we are traveling to. The country the Earthlings call Mexico."
The Martians break into Mexico’s TV programming to announce their arrival. Actually, I assume they cut into all broadcast channels worldwide, as that the standard thing to do in these situations. However, we only see Mexican viewers being so inconvenienced. (I especially enjoyed the look of pure, overwrought horror on one mom’s face as the picture went blank, apparently caused by the family TV having gone on the blink. It’s like she’s thinking, "Good heavens, what if I have to actually talk to my husband or children?!")
Basically, their spiel is that old saw about how nuclear weapons threaten the existence of the solar system (a-huh, right), and unless we give up war the Martian crew – all eight of them -- will have no choice but to "disintegrate all the inhabitants of Earth." Even so, their list of demands sounds like something they wrote up after puffing on a bong and listening to John Lennon’s "Imagine" for eight straight hours: "All governments on Earth shall accept total disarmament, eliminate all borders, and unify your language, and establish a global government that does not discriminate by race or creed, foster Earthly brotherhood, and give up war forever." Unless some other planet develops weapons you don’t like, I guess. By the way, if I wanted all that crap I’d have voted for Al Gore. I’m sure the outlawing of school vouchers, the internal combustion engine, nuclear power, tobacco smoking and the consumption of animal products will be coming up on the next list of demands.
One intentionally humorous bit, meanwhile, is the various viewers we see laugh at the announcement, believing the goofy-looking Martians to be another typically bizarre example of Mexican TV programming. The fact that Argos channels his voice through an echo chamber probably isn’t helping. Nor is his statement that they will use their actions in Mexico "to show our determination and power." Which brings up the point of why aliens would bother invading Mexico, of all places. I mean, no offense, but c’mon, that’s like picking a fight with an eight year-old to show how tough you are. Maybe they’re just too lazy to try overthrowing the U.S. or Japan or something like that.
Here’s another thing. The Martians boast they have "weapons a hundred times more powerful than yours." OK, how is it that Earth threatens the universe with our comparatively puny weapons, while all these alien cultures somehow have managed to create much more destructive ones with the cosmos being the worse off. If it’s that humans supposedly possess a uniquely warlike nature, then why do all these aliens even have weapons, much less these super-powerful ones? Also, the Martians keep claiming their technology is "five hundred years ahead of yours." As my friend Andrew Muchoney noted upon hearing this, "How exactly do you quantify that?" Of course, maybe one of their futuristic technologies is a machine to measure that sort of thing.
Here we get my favorite visual of the movie, as we cut to Santo viewing this. Apparently sitting in his den, or home office, or whatever, he’s at an old beat-up desk, complete with clunky black rotary phone. Even so, he’s seated there watching TV whilst clad in his traditional bare-chested costume, consisting of a silver cowl, wrestling tights for pants, boots and full-length sequined cape. Apparently he never changes into civvies, lest the need arise for him to instantly spring into action. In an attempt to look thoughtful as he watches this, Santo cants his head at different angles and purses his already protruding lips. These, along with his eyes and nose, are all we can see of his hooded noggin. Basically he has the same countenance as a jack-o-lantern.
After the broadcast the Martians discuss the results. "Our electronic interstellar brain indicates the Earthlings do not take our warning seriously," one says. They’re just high-horsing it, though. I’m pretty sure their ‘electronic interstellar brain’ is a Neilson TV rating report, followed up with a Gallup/ABC telephone poll. More believable is the statement that we Earthlings "are convinced that our appearance on their screen was just a comedy skit." Yes, a worldwide comedy skit that interrupted every television broadcast on Earth. (Presumably.) This is a stark lesson for all would-be alien conquerors: Don’t threaten Humanity whilst clad like unisex chorines from Liberace! The Musical.
Argos orders one of his minions to "find a public place. Let the Earthlings see you, then disintegrate them with your Astral Eye." Which is the one in their foreheads, needless to say. Anyhoo, since this is Mexico, the necessarily crowded ‘public place’ turns out to be a soccer match.
One where the bare-chested and sweaty Santo, clad in his tights, boots and silver fetish mask, is coincidentally off to the side teaching some young boys in tiny shorts to wrestle. This sight is sure to inspired scads of homophobic japery from the unenlightened. By which I mean myself and my friend Andrew.
Here we get a "Plot Point!" moment, as Argos produces a small, half-filled jar of white pills. "The atmosphere on Earth can be deadly," he notes, "but these capsules will help us avoid suffocation." Yes, that would be handy. Amazingly (if conveniently), we’ll later learn that this is the total supply of these things they brought along. This in a ship with more wasted space than the skulls of the members of N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys put together.
Back to the soccer match. "The Martians, who claim to come from a world much more civilized than ours," explains the returning Omniscient Narrator, "and whose scientific advancements surpass the Earth’s by more than 500 years, nonetheless commit the same fatal error of which they accuse us, attempting to impose peace and brotherhood through fear and force, forgetting that violence only promotes destruction and hate." Well, yes, when it put it that way their strategy does seem a bit hypocritical. Not that they’ve probably thought about this, since they apparently just stole their entire ‘alien message’ from Klaatu. (And anyway, ‘violence’ did a pretty good job of putting paid to the Nazis and Imperial Japan, too, so this analysis seems somewhat simplistic.)
Furthering this theme, El Santo – which is Spanish for "The Santo" -- instructs a pupil in the proper usage of the Awesome Power that is Wrestling. "Your skill should only be used to counter aggression," Our Hero explains, whereupon his student finishes by noting, "Or to defend the weak and defenseless." Santo concurs and sets the lad and his partner to wrestling like "good sports."
Here one of the male Martians teleports in, accompanied by sound effects that unfortunately seem to have been culled from Spike Jones’ recording of "Cocktails for Two." He turns his attention to the ‘crowd’ watching the soccer match – which is much smaller in close-ups then in the stock footage. His "Astral Eye" starts to blink on and off and the spectators are *cough, cough* disintegrated, which here means composited out of the film.
Seeing all this mischief afoot, the heroic Santo launches himself at the annihilating alien. Here we see that sprinting apparently isn’t an essential skill in professional wrestling. And so, after an astoundingly long ten-minute wait, we finally get our first taste of wrestling action. Unsurprisingly, the Martian proves to know a number of the standard moves and holds. Of course, they did decide to invade Mexico.
Then, in a bit that actually had me and Muchoney gasping in surprise, the Martian turns around and disintegrates a group of Santo’s young students. I have to admit, its not everyday you see some six to ten year-old years get whacked in a cheesy sci-fi movie starring a wrestler. Even so, rather then fleeing in terror all the other kids continue to just stand around and watch the fight. (!!) Now, personally I would have disintegrated the beefy dude currently kicking my ass, rather than some bystanding children. Of course, I’m not a member of an advanced shirtless race, either, so what do I know?
Eventually, the Martian manages to get the mighty Man in the Silver Mask trapped in a headlock. Then – hurray! – Santo breaks free and tosses his opponent to the ground. The Marauding Martian tries the headlock thing again, with much the same result. Seeing that orthodox moves aren’t working, the Iniquitous Invader cheats and kicks Santo in the midriff. Then he punches him in the head. Of course, this is wrestling Mexican-style, so maybe such ploys aren’t against the rules.
Hmm, guess not, because Santo just kneed him in the head, and we all know El Santo wouldn’t engage in unfair tactics. In fact – ouch! – Santo just kneed the guy in the groin. I don’t care if you’re a Martian or not, that’s gotta hurt. Eventually Santo just starts throttling his opponent. Then the alien punches Santo in the gut. And so on. The worst moment is when the Martian clamps Santo’s head between his thighs and gives the noggin, the back of which is jammed up against his crotch, a good squeezing. Dude, that’s just wrong.
After about five minutes of this, the Martian finally decides to (duh) turn his Astral Eye on his attacker. Luckily, though, Santo has him in an arm lock. With his target behind him, the Martian can’t obtain the proper angle necessary to disintegrate him. Defeated, the Cowardly Cosmonaut twists the activation knob down on his belt – anyway, that’s what I hope he’s doing – and teleports away. Santo finally sends the children off and pauses to survey the now ghostly soccer stadium. I guess the idea is that the Martian disintegrated literally thousands of people. Since only Santo’s intercession saved even a handful of witnesses, I wonder how this would have functioned as a ‘display’ of the aliens’ powers. Wouldn’t you want a few survivors left to babble to the press?
The Martian teleports in near the open (?!) entrance to the spaceship. As in Plan 9, the exterior set for the ship completely fails to match the spaceship model used in the flying sequences. The fellow reports in to Argos, who had seen the events on the ship’s inevitable circular televiewer. "I couldn’t disintegrate [Santo]," the underling somewhat falsely explains. Here we get our biggest IITS moment. Argos declares that Santo must be captured alive. Due to his extraordinary abilities, "he is the kind of terrestrial specimen that we must take back to our planet." Needless to say, this is all rather convenient. Otherwise it might be hard to explain how Santo keeps managing to tussle to with dudes who shoot deathrays out of their foreheads without getting himself knocked off.
Since there’s only been some bout of wrestling in the film’s first thirteen minutes, we now cut to a packed arena. However, they’re merely tantalizing us, for instead of the ring we cut to Santo’s dressing room. There the Man in the Silver Mask is perusing newspaper accounts of the thousands killed at the soccer game. He then confers with the film’s inevitable Scientist, Prof. Ordorica. "I have several theories [about the aliens]," the latter notes, "but they all sound pretty wild." Yeah, so you’d think. Santo queries whether a terrestrial "war-mongering" power might be behind the incident. Prof. Ordorica demurs, presumably because of the whole teleporting-guy-with-three-eyes-who-shoots-disintegration-rays thing. "I am sure it comes from another planet," he says. Santo agrees with this analysis.
We cut back to the family seen earlier, who are still watching TV. There’s an oddly elderly seeming father, his nervous wife, and their young son and daughter. Since they’ll be popping up again, I’ll call them Dad, Mom, Billy and Susie. Suddenly the Martian again appear on their television screen. It’s the standard stuff: We’ve proven our power, you can’t stand against, etc. In a particularly cheesy moment, a priest turns from the broadcast to bow his head before one of those really creepy bleeding-Jesus crucifixes.
We cut to Prof. Ordorica’s laboratory, where he and Santo are continuing their conversation. "Something makes me think that the lost continent of Atlantis," Ordorica muses, "was inhabited by a race that also had the Astral Eye." Yes, it does seem that all the evidence points that way. Although how the Professor knew that this device, or whatever, was called the "Astral Eye" is left to our imaginations. By the way, his lab is a great big room sporting a collection of scientific machinery in the background, one of which is beeps and flashes some Christmas lights. The other feature of note is a large table holding numerous Beakers of Mysterious Colored Fluids -- which are naturally issuing dry ice fumes -- and an arc generator. Amazingly, an oscilloscope is nowhere to be seen.
Ordorica heads into his office to answer the phone. Hearing that the Martians are again broadcasting a message, he calls to Santo and turns on his TV. Mexico was picked, Argos announces, "because it is a country committed to pacifism." (??) "We hope that its voice will be heard by other nations," he continues. Yeah, Mexico’s always was a diplomatic powerhouse. "Resistance is futile," Argos finishes. I wonder if that line is actually a literal translation or if the subtitle guy was having a little joke.
Suddenly, to the accompaniment of goofy sound effects, Argos teleports into the lab. "You are naïve, and you do not understand the significance of my words," he claims. Uh, would "do what we tell you or we’ll kill you" be in the ballpark? Argos now explains – sorta – his master plan. Ordorica, with his "powerful intellect," and Santo, with his "strength and integrity," will "be the seed of the a new humanity, more scientifically and morally advanced." Santo argues that this whole "morals" thing is somewhat incompatible with the mass slaughter of helpless people and young children. Argos’ answer, of necessity, falls into that whole ‘have to break some eggs’ kind of thing. He again asserts a human nuclear war would destroy life on many other planets, including Mars. Again, I’d like to see some hard data to back this up.
Argos orders them to take his hand, which would allow him to teleport them back to his ship. Instead, Santo drops him to the floor with a scissor kick. We’re now about nineteen minutes in, so I guess we’ll be getting a wrestling scene every ten minutes or so. Soon the caped opponents are slugging it out and trading sleeper holds and so on. I’d like to point out that had the Professor kept a simple revolver in his lab, he could have easily killed off the leader of the "invincible" Martian invasion at this point. Instead, the magical Astral Eye eventually comes into play, here paralyzing Santo instead of vaporizing him.
Argos is about to teleport the Professor back to the ship when his breathing pill wears out. (Not exactly long-lasting, these things.) He proceeds to grimace madly and clutch at his throat, lest we fail to get what’s happening. After about a minute of this (!), he reaches for the none-too ergonomic pill container on his belt. However, Santo’s paralyzation has worn off, and the Martian leader is soon again in a headlock. He can’t swallow the pill with Santo’s arm around his neck, so he instead turns the knob on his belt and teleports to safety. I’d like to point out that he’s grasping Santo’s arm at this juncture, meaning that the wrestler should have been teleported off as well. So much for continuity. However, he left behind some spilled capsules for the Professor to examine. Which he proceeds to do, by using a microscope. (?!)
Meanwhile, a Martian teleports into Billy and Susie’s shared bedroom. Hearing their shouts, Mom and Dad come into the room. Dad proves a little dense, somehow not spotting the hulking, bare-chested intruder until well after he should have. The first Martian teleports Dad off, then a second Martian, who looks oddly like a Japanese body builder wearing a blond wig, pops in to grab Mom and the tykes. The teleportation sound effects here are especially humorous, especially the one that goes boi-oi-oi-oing. The family finds itself on the spaceship, where they are imprisoned in a great big side room.
Following this, Argos addresses his crew. "Our Martian appearance frightens the Earthlings and delays our plans," he explains. No, your Martian appearance inspires helpless mirth in Earthlings. It’s the callous murder of thousands of people that probably accounts for the fright. And wasn’t scaring us into submission the whole point? Anyway, one of subordinates questions this assertion. "Why do we frighten them," he queries, "when our bodies are more perfectly evolved than their own?" Again, it might be tied to how you keep going on TV and threaten to eradicate all human life from the planet. That’s my theory, anyway.
Luckily, the ship comes with a ‘transformation chamber’ for just such an eventuality. (And yet they only managed to bring one small jar of breathing capsules.) This proves to be an empty room off the bridge, into which they now dutifully file. Luckily, the chamber features a series of windows, so that we can watch as dry ice fumes obscure the Martians. It also sports twin wooden doors. For no real reason, the crew files into the one on the right to enter the room, and use the one on the left to leave it.
Now, admittedly, the losing of the third eye probably will help to reassure humans. (On the other hand, there goes their big weapon.) However, the other changes…not so much. First of all, their attire has changed. Now the men are wearing Grecian-style shorts and a decorative sash over one shoulder. The women are wearing mini-togas. Lastly, rather than all have long, blond hair, some of them now have short and brunette hair. Yep, that transformation chamber is a miracle of science, alrighty.
To augment these amazing alterations, Argos now decides to provide his crew with names from "the Earthling’s mythology." (??) This is actually where he identifies himself as Argos, by the way. Wasting a little running time, he proceeds to name each of the crew in turn, all with little explanations of how he chose their new monikers. "You are a scholar excelling in studies of time and space," he tells one fellow, "and you will be named Argos. The others will be Morpheo, Hercules ("the only one among us whose strength will match the Silver Mask," he helpfully adds), Aphrodite, Selena, Artemisa and Diana. Despite looking almost exactly the same as they did before, about as different as people who’ve gone to a beauty parlor for a makeover, he refers to their having "taken these undesirable human forms." He also confirms that the removal of their Astral Eyes has taken away their various ocular powers.
Back at the Professor’s lab, he’s still examining a breathing capsule with his microscope. "They contain chemical substances that oxygenate their lungs," he reports. (He got that from looking at it with a microscope?) Apparently our atmosphere is deadly to the Martians because of its lack of oxygen. Meanwhile, he’s also managed to invent a device that will allow Santo to track the Martians. Yeah, don’t give that to the Army or anything. By the way, why aren’t other governments sending agents and troops in to deal with this situation?
Anyway, the device looking almost exactly like a transistor radio with a small compass and light bulb attached to it. Now, you might be wondering how he just happened to have a Martian tracking unit on hand. "It detects brain waves," he offers, "and I can adjust it to the mental vibrations of the Martians. Because of their superior intelligence, they emit high frequency vibrations in moments of great emotion or stress." Yes, I guess that really does explain it. Told that the device will be ready the following day, Santo heads off to the gym. "Now more than ever I must be prepared for any attack," he notes.
After the Man in the Silver mask departs, however, Argos and Kronos pop into the lab. Here they’re wearing their old uniforms again, despite the fact that these were ‘transformed’ away earlier. Which means that the remaining big changes are that they only have two eyes and shorter brunette hair. They order the Professor to come with them. Luckily, however, he has a couple of Beakers with Mysterious Colored Fluids before him, ones that, dashed to the floor, create a wall of flame to trap his assailants. Even more fortuitously, the huge fire obediently remains in place, not endangering the rest of the lab.
The Martians begin that grasping-their-throats thing. "Caution, Kronos!" Argos exclaims. "Fire suppresses the oxygen!" Since we were earlier told that Kronos was a scholar, I’d really have expected him to figure this out for himself. Meanwhile, scholars of a more Jabootuish bent will instantly recognize that this exact method was later used to capture Octoman. The interlopers teleport – yet again – to safety, whereupon the Professor uses an antiquated fire extinguisher to put down the flames.
As you may have guessed, we’re now at roughly the thirty-minute mark. Therefore we now get a longish sequence of Santo sparring – is that the right word? -- with another wrestler. Really, if you like watching guys wrestle, Mexico’s the place for you. Anyway, after Santo emerges triumphant, he begins wrestling another guy. This is a really beefy bald guy, allowing at least for some Mr. Clean quips.
This is all being observed, by the way, by the Martians on their televiewer. Indeed, during the second match a couple of the Martian chicks teleport in, oddly without being observed. They hide as Santo heads to the dressing room, following which they return to the gym area. Here the two guys who were just sparring with Santo head over to investigate these hot women, whereupon they get themselves hypnotized. One guy, to make sure we get what’s happening, pops his eyes real wide.
A bit later Santo reenters the gym – luckily all the other wrestlers have just left – and he’s assaulted by the two wrestlers. Yep, more wrasslin’ action!! Minutes and minutes more!! This time, of course, his opponents mean his destruction, and they team up on him and generally fight dirty. To no avail, however. Zombie wrestlers will never triumph over Our Hero, who proves he can absorb a superhuman beating here. Seeing that their plan has failed, the women teleport away and the wrestler come back to their senses. The genial Santo pats them on the back and sends them off.
We cut to a fashionable dinner party. Here we learn that the nation’s top scientists have deduced that the country has been invaded by Martians – well, duh – but that they decided to keep it a secret. (??) Yeah, other than the newspaper stories and the regular TV broadcasts and those thousands of people who disappeared, the public has no real reason to be suspicious. Three of the attendees, obviously muckity-mucks of various sorts, discuss ways to persuade the populace that the whole Martian thing is a hoax.
Just then, however, a couple of the Martian women, adorned in cocktail dresses, enter the room. Using their charms – and their advanced Wonder-Bra technology, which is at least five hundred years ahead of our own – they mesmerize the menfolk, causing much consternation amongst their wives. Picking the two most important men, they teleport them away. Next another Martian woman – who, I don’t wish to be unchivalrous, but isn’t particularly hot -- appears in a restaurant and similarly teleports away a science-fiction writer (?!), one wearing a tremendously garish jacket.
Once aboard, however, Sci-Fi Guy makes a break for it. There’s really nowhere to run, but he does almost throw the huge lever in the middle of the room, that one that would cause the ship to self-destruct. (??) For the life of me, if they’re going to insist on equipping spaceships with those things, you’d think they’d at least required a keycode to activate, or something. Anyway, the Martians provide their captives with – what else? – food pills, ones that also take care of our need for water. (??) Back outside the brig, Argos again notes the importance of capturing Santo and Professor Ordorica before they return to Mars. There Santo will *gasp* be killed, so that Martian scientists can examine his "brain, his muscles, and his lungs," and thus decipher the secrets behind his amazing physical acumen. This will allow the invaders to create an army of Santo-riffic soldiers.
Meanwhile, the propaganda campaign has reassured the public, and they begin resuming their normal activities. Which includes, of course, attending wrestling matches. Next comes a bit that reoccurs in many of these things. The Martian Hercules teleports into the room of Black Eagle, Santo’s opponent in the next match. He quickly overcomes the sub-Santo fellow and dons his cowl. Soon the two are tussling in the ring, although Santo has noted his masked opponent’s teleportation belt, and thus figured out what’s going on. This is a pretty long sequence, lasting well over ten minutes (!!).
In a moment that probably drew a gasp of terror from Mexican audiences of the time, Hercules at one point manages to tear off Santo’s mask. But, Ha!, the cagey Santo has a second, smaller mask on underneath! Whew! That was…too close! Santo, for his part, attempts to get the teleportation belt off of Hercules. He fails, however. Oddly, once beaten Hercules – and Morpheo and Kronos, watching from the audience – turn back to their three-eyed and blond haired forms. Which is odd, because they established that only another session in the transformation chamber could do this. Revealed to the world, the Martians vaporize a bunch of the spectators, which doesn’t exactly make Our Hero look all that competent. Santo then reengages Hercules. (I like how the Ref stays in the ring for this!!) Beaten again, Hercules and his cohorts vanish.
Next we spot Santo reading in bed, still wearing his mask, tights, and yes, his cape. (!!) Suddenly a couple of the Martian women appear in his room. They mesmerize him, and the Man in the Silver Mask has a vision of them removing his mask and kissing him. (These were pretty tame films, however, and that’s as far as it goes.) It’s like The Last Temptation of Santo all of the sudden. Ultimately, though, Santo proves too strong of heart for these shenanigans, and he breaks free of their illusion. They threaten to kill him, although without their Astral Eyes they have no weapons. "But what happens," he asks, "if before you do, I am able to rip off your belts." Proving as cowardly as the males, the women glance at each other and teleport out of there.
Next Santo is at the lab, getting his Martian Tracking Device from the Professor. Meanwhile, Argos and his underlings, again sans their Astral Eyes, are in the process of abducting the Priest seen earlier. First, of course, they attempt to debate with him about the morality of their actions. Whatever happened to that plan to eradicate all the humans? It seemed a lot more clean-cut. Still, their time-wasting actions have allowed Santo to locate them on his device, and we see him motoring across town in his trademark Austin-Martin convertible.
Santo show up and beats on the locked door to the church. With both Hercules and Kronos at his side, Argos figures this is a perfect chance to overpower him. However, the Priest forbids any such actions in the House of God, and Argos agrees to take it outside. (!!) So the two henchmen teleport outside and engage Santo in, uh, wrestling. (Look, Argos, would it kill you to teleport your ass out there and help?) Santo takes a massive beating, yet in the end – which is quite a while in arriving – the Man in the Silver Mask proves victorious. Although, to be fair, it’s because the Martian’s breathing pills run out yet again. The Martians all teleport away, taking the Father with them.
Back to the spaceship. The male captives attempt to overwhelm their abductors and destroy the craft via the autodestruct lever. They fail, of course, but, hey, at least they were being proactive. Argos, meanwhile, wants to have another go at kidnapping the Professor. Luckily for him, some of the Professor’s colleagues appear at his lab just then and badger him into attending an honorary dinner they’ve arranged for him. (!) Despite his qualms, he eventually agrees, unaware he’s being observed on the Martian’s televiewers.
At the club, the dancing girls are replaced by the Martian women. These somehow manage to paralyze the real dancers, despite the fact that they don’t have their Astral Eyes. In other words, the movie’s given up even pretending that their powers make any sense. Meanwhile, Santo’s in his den when the kidnap attempt set off the tracking device. As he leaves, the Martian women are doing a bad hootchy-kootchy dance. Finally, after ‘performing’ their entire ‘number’, they make their move. The Professor is finally theirs. Santo arrives, but he’s…too late.
Even so, things aren’t going that well for the Martians either. They are just about out of breathing pills. (Morons.) Still obsessed with getting his hands on Santo, he orders one more attempt at him. Luckily, Our Hero is happy to oblige. In fact, he’s setting up a wrestling match for latter that night, certain that the news will draw out the Martians. (If they already tried to get him at his house, why does he think a match in particular would prove so irresistible? Unless it’s really just an opportunity to do more wrestling before the movie’s over.) The match is arranged and publicized, although a terrorized public has elected to stay home. Despite his opponent’s misgivings, Santo demands that the match proceed as usual.
And so…more wrestling. After some minutes of this the Martians finally make their appearance. The others all flee, but Santo stands his ground. This being the final battle, Argos himself finally engages Santo directly. However, Argos’ breathing capsule starts wearing off, and Hercules takes over. More wrestling. Santo tosses him out of the ring, and Kronos and Morpheo take their turns. More wrestling. Eventually, however, Santo manages to beat his opponents off long enough to abscond with the prostrate Hercules’ teleportation belt. Using this – although he makes sure to collect and don his cape first – Santo teleports to their ship. Meanwhile, Hercules dies of asphyxiation, or something. I guess. Argos stops to disintegrate Hercules’ body, and then they all teleport after Santo.
Santo has arrived outside the ship, and hides as the others teleport in. It’s too late, though, for the breathing pills are out. Dying, they attempt to send the ship via autopilot back to Mars. However, Santo bursts in and frees the captives. Making sure the ship doesn’t fall into terrestrial hands, Argos tries to activate the destruct switch but dies before he can do so. The Professor tries to convince Santo to save the ship, but Santo fears that Mankind isn’t ready for this amazing power. So he returns to the ship and pulls the lever himself, barely escaping with his life. Boom!
The Omnipotent Narrator returns, implying that humanity now has nothing to fear but it’s own "crazy nuclear experiments." That, presumably, or a second Martian ship that brings along two bottles of breathing capsules.
Summary: Probably the Greatest Movie Ever Made.
-by Ken Begg