Santo In The Witches Attack/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Who you gonna call when you’ve got a serious attack of the ‘brujas’? No, you don’t need a doctor, you need Mexico’s numero uno wrestling superhero El Santo. He’s the man who’s gonna kick muchos brujas ass.
Since moving into the gloomy mansion she inherited from her parents Ofelia has been haunted by a recurring nightmare in which she and El Santo are held captive by ‘Mayra, Queen and Lady of the Witches’ and her cult of followers. They are to be sacrificed to ‘the powerful Lord of the Shadows’; a furry bat-faced demon who will then grant the witches coven the power to enslave all mankind.
Ofelia is obliged by the conditions of her parents will to spend a year in their foreboding abode in order to receive her full inheritance but the executor of the estate is a creepy chica called Elisa who bares a striking resemblance to the witch of Ofelia’s dreams.
Worried that his wife-to-be may be in genuine danger Ofelia’s fiancée Arturo pays a visit to wrestling crime-fighter and general do-gooder El Santo and confides that, although Ofelia is unaware of it, the real Elisa died 15 years ago. You don’t have to be Scrappy Doo to realise that there’s a recently resurrected bruja in the house.
Santo offers to investigate and is ambushed by Mayra’s henchmen while snooping around the witch’s tomb leading to some bone-crunching lucha libre action that’ll have wrestlemaniacs cheering and knocking back the San Miguel.
Santo deals out a beating to the goons only to be charmed by Medusa, one of the more shapely members of the witch’s coven, who strips down to her sparkling bra and panties while some hilarious wobbly theremin music plays on the soundtrack. Lesser men would be unable to resist the invitation of glittery knickers and a theremin but El Santo is not just a man he’s a legend so he tells the conniving bruja where to get off.
Mayra continues to employ all manner of supernatural tactics to subdue our hero. While he sleeps, wearing his cape and mask to bed of course, El Santo is menaced by the most ridiculously fake spider this side of Nude for Satan and later only narrowly escapes falling into a booby-trapped pit of spikes.
Proving that dreams can come true Ofelia and El Santo eventually find themselves captured by the wicked witches and strapped to the sacrificial altars in Mayra’s crypt. But the man in the silver mask has one final secret weapon hidden in his cape. What is it? Well, let’s just say that The Saint has God on his side.
Among El Santo’s many screen adventures ‘The Witches Attack’ is one film that sits squarely in the horror genre with it’s gothic mansion, coffins and crypts, stormy nights and Satanic ceremonies. The ‘spend the night in a haunted house and inherit a fortune’ plot is so old as to come ready equipped with cobwebs having been a staple of the horror genre since the silent era.
Like many of Santo’s early outings the film has the feel of an old-fashioned Saturday morning serial and the episodic nature of the narrative is made explicit here by the inclusion of an on-screen title card at one point which announces ‘Segundo Episodo: Las Brujas Maldita’.
Only once is the audience’s attention diverted to one of the professional wrestling matches that punctuate the majority of El Santo’s movies and this definitely works in the film’s favour as it means that the creepy atmosphere is not unduly compromised by sudden shifts in tone. The 2nd half of the film does lose momentum somewhat with several repetitive scenes of crypt wandering and stair climbing. If you wanted to be kind you could say that they evoke the dislocated and inescapable dimensions of a dream, such as the recurrent one that plagues Ofelia, but it’s more truthful to say that these scenes are just fucking boring.
Overall ‘The Witches Attack’ is an enjoyable, if somewhat threadbare and illogical, entry in the El Santo series which, due to its gothic atmosphere and demonic villains should appeal to Mexican horror movie fans as well as loopy lucha libre lovers like me.