Never tiring of the classic Hollywood monsters, Mexico's top masked wrestlers of the time--Santo and Blue Demon--once again team up for a colorful 1970s monster mash. SANTO AND BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA AND THE WOLF MAN is a flawed but engrossing picture that confirms that the Mexican filmmakers were by this time not only influenced by the early classics from Universal, but also by the horrors from Hammer Films and quite possibly even AIP (e.g. the "Count Yorga" films).
An elderly Professor (Jorge Mondragón) receives a letter declaring that the Cristaldi family will be demolished, as his ancestor slayed Dracula and The Wolf Man some 400 years before. The professor still has the special dagger that killed these monsters, but he fears for his widowed daughter, her little girl, and his niece, Lina (Nubia Marti). Lina is dating the silver-hooded wrestler Santo--even though she could be his daughter--and asks for his help. Santo says he will do what he can, but the professor is abducted by the sloppy bearded and scarred hunchback Eric (Wally Barron). Eric hangs the professor's upside-down body over Dracula's coffin, and in a scene almost identical to one in Hammer's DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS, slits his throat, allowing the old man's blood to flow onto the vampire's skeleton.
Due to Eric's efforts, a Dracula (Aldo Monti) in 1930s Lugosi attire and lamb chop sideburns arises, as does The Wolf Man (Agustín Martínez Solares) who dons a Tom Jones Vegas yellow silk shirt and goes by the name of Rufus Rex. Dracula and The Wolf Man swear vengeance on the Cristaldi family, while the greedy Eric is actually out to steal Dracula's gold (you ever notice how vampires always have money?). A number of people are abducted and end up as vampire women or werewolves with hair only on their faces. In his suave Rufus Rex persona, The Wolf Man plans to seduce the professor's daughter, while Dracula wants to put the bite on Lina. Luckily Santo and Blue Demon--while not busy playing chess--are on the scene, communicating through their radio-controlled watches and fighting an assortment of undead monsters and brawny gangsters.
SANTO AND BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA AND THE WOLF MAN is an entertaining enough film, though most of the horror happenings occur offscreen (only one slightly gory shot appears) and it's not erotic, as it was obviously aimed at younger viewers. That's just fine, as Santo and Blue Demon (here in their mid 50s!) are always a treat together, and Monti (who also was The Count in SANTO AND THE TREASURE OF DRACULA) is a decent vampire (turning into a rubber bat at times), while Solares' werewolf make-up is good enough to be second rate Paul Naschy (Solares was also the monster in NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES). There are the usual wrestling matches (unrelated to the story and set on an obvious soundstage substituting as an arena), and the monsters' underground catacomb has a large pit filled with stakes and dead bodies. As a punishment, victims are forced to walk over a plank on top of it, as Rufus Rex shakes it on the other end--even Blue Demon is forced to do so. But sure enough, Santo arrives to save him and others, taking all the heroic credit as usual.
Rise Above Entertainment presents SANTO AND BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA AND THE WOLF MAN on DVD for the first time to a U.S. audience, and it contains optional English subtitles over the original Spanish language dialog. The colors are fairly rich on the full frame transfer, and for the most part the image is satisfactory. There is some dirt, blemishes, and softness from time to time, but nothing too bothersome. The Spanish mono audio has some hiss noticeable, but is adequate on the whole.
Extras include "The Best of Santo" which is about two minutes of clips from various Santo films, trailers for the new Santo adventure (SANTO: INFRATERRESTRE) a newly-created one for SANTO AND THE BLUE DEMON VS. DR. FRANKENSTEIN, a still gallery, and promotions for other Rise Above titles. David Wilt writes the liner notes in a booklet contained within the packaging. Wilt is the author of an upcoming book on Mexican cinema, and his liner notes are a fine asset to this collection, and it's hopeful that his input will be included on more upcoming titles. (George R. Reis)
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