Any fans who have collected generously illustrated vampire cinema books surely recognize pictures from a particular movie. The photos in question depict a suave Dracula positioned against a line-up of abundantly-bosomed topless beauties. It looked as though Russ Meyer had directed a vampire pic, but the title in question was the Mexican-made "El Vampiro y el Sexo," which literally translates to "The Vampire and the Sex"(!). "El Vampiro y el Sexo" actually turns out to be the more adult version of SANTO IN THE TREASURE OF DRACULA, a spicier variant (reportedly created for export purposes) with alternative nude scenes. This version is yet to surface (damn!), but the standard Mexican cut has arrived on DVD, for the first time with English subtitles!
Aside from being a great wrestler, El Santo is also an Einstein-type genius who has just invented a time machine. He tells of his invention before a gathering of scientists, but I imagine it's hard to take a beefy guy wearing a mask and sports jacket seriously, so they doubt Santo. The friendly Dr. Sepulveda (Carlos Agosti) believes in Santo, and is willing to be his time-traveling guinea pig. Santo suggests that a woman would be more ideal (for some scientific reason), so Sepulveda's daughter Luisa (Noelia Noel) volunteers. Garbed in a Ziggy Stardust silver jumpsuit, Luisa is transformed back into time.
We then see a nightgown-garbed Luisa falling into a bed, a century earlier. She is now the daughter of Professor Soler who is worried about her health and inquiring about two bite marks on her neck. Professor Van Roth arrives, and clearly being a "Van Helsing" type, mentions vampirism as the culprit, wanting to fight off the undead with mistletoe. There is also a neighbor who goes by "Count Alucard," and even in Spanish-language films, Alucard spelt backwards means trouble. He of course is Dracula (Aldo Monti) and wants to make Luisa one of his vampire brides. Resting in his lair, Dracula gets staked, but before the same is done to Luisa, she is plunged back to the present safe and sound, as Santo was able to view the whole experience on television, different camera angles and all. Not only has Santo invented a time machine, but he has also mastered multi-angled closed circuit TV (through time and space) without the necessity of cameras.
Meanwhile, a hooded stranger (alas, "The Black Hood") had sneaked into the house and was also watching the events, and he wants to abuse the information to find Dracula's gold treasure for himself. Santo also needs to find the jewels (hidden in a coffin) to prove that his time machine works. This all leads to a brawl in Dracula's crypt with Santo and friends against the Black Hood and his gang, as well as a wrestling match to decide who will obtain the vampire's valuable ring--which offers information on the missing treasure (this plot device was also employed in WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY, penned by the same screenwriter). The Black Hood later releases Dracula, unleashing him in the modern world. Luckily, Santo's wrestling buddies are quick for a favor and handy with dynamite.
SANTO IN THE TREASURE OF DRACULA is a fairly entertaining, if somewhat confusing take on the legend. Santo seems to take a back seat in this one, and has to play off silly comic sidekick Perico (Alberto Rojas), an irritating Jerry Lewis wannabe with huge eyeglasses and a bulky dollar sign necklace. Santo's straightman act is actually funnier then anything Rojas does, and the film also has some unintentional humor. This can be witnessed when Professor Roth's observance of Dracula not having a reflection in the mirror. Dracula then smashes the full-size glass and comely recovers by declaring his hatred of mirrors to the unaffected professor. Monti (who again essayed the role in SANTO AND THE BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA AND THE WOLF MAN) seems a good choice for Dracula, somewhat resembling onetime 007 George Lazenby. Loaded with the expected fog machines and clumsy rubber bats, the film has a nice amount of atmosphere, emerging as a homage to Universal, Hammer and even the then-current "Dark Shadows" daytime soap opera.
Rise Above Entertainment has released SANTO IN THE TREASURE OF DRACULA full frame on DVD in its original Spanish language with English subtitles. Even though the film was shot Eastmancolor and originally released that way in Mexico, this is the now more common black and white version. The quality here is acceptable, though the conversion of the color photography to B&W causes some darkness, grain and loss of detail in spots. Black and white actually suits the film well, resembling the early 60s Mexican horror films, but a title sequence intended to show oozing red blood (similar to that of Hammer's DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE) is left murky and looses its intended effect. The Spanish mono audio is adequate on the whole.
Extras include "The Best of Santo" which is about two minutes of clips from various Santo adventures, a trailer for the new Santo film (SANTO: INFRATERRESTRE) a newly-created one for SANTO AND THE BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA AND THE WOLF MAN, and a modest still gallery (no pics from the nudie version). David Wilt again writes the informative liner notes include in an insert booklet. (George R. Reis)
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