Although masked Mexican wrestling hero Santo has had numerous encounters with Dracula and other vampires, his confrontations with the Frankenstein legend were not as substantial. SANTO VS. FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER is probably the most triumphant blending of Santo and Mary Shelley's creation, since his previous encounter (in SANTO AND THE BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS) was nothing more than an actor in a Don Post Frankenstein fright mask with a mustache and goatee glued on! This film offers some above average makeup (for a Santo monster film) and an interesting enough take on the legend.
Like William Beaudine's Z-grade JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER, this film has the legendary mad doc's daughter, Freda Frankenstein (Gina Roman), carrying out her dad's innovative work. She has discovered a youth formula (which she takes herself to retain her spry appearance), and injects old men with it who are under employment. Ms. Frankenstein is very ruthless, and if any of her henchman foul up in any way, they are not given their injection when due and left to crumble and die. In order to perfect the formula, she wants to use the blood of the eternally robust Santo, which she was able to get a ringside sample of many years ago.
Santo has a giddy girlfriend Norma who is a Jill St. John look-alike and raves about how good Santo looks without his mask on. In order to bring Santo out to her mansion, Freda Frankenstein orders her thugs (in matching red shirts, much like the criminals on the 60s "Batman" show) to kidnap Norma, leaving instructions for Santo to come running. Santo leaves with Norma's sister, and they find their way to the house of Frankenstein, and the usual monster mayhem and good guys vs. bad guys occurs.
The film offers two monsters, both played by the same actor, Gerardo Cepeda. Cepeda played a number of Mexican creatures, and the ape-man seen here looks almost identical to the one he played in NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES, also directed by Cardona. The second monster is named Ursus, and he looks more like the traditional square-headed creation but is quite scarred and gruesome. Santo fights both monsters, but shows sympathy for Ursus when he suffers after being impaled on a graveyard cross.
Gina Roman (a fetching vampire countess against Santo in 1970's THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE WOMEN) is well-cast as the tyrannical Dr. Frankenstein, and Mexican horror buffs will recognize her assistant (Roberto Cañedo) as the titular DOCTOR OF DOOM (1962). As usual, the film is suitable for the kiddies, but there's also some surprising gore and impressive sets, especially the laboratory and dungeon/torture chamber. The ending borrows from THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and I don't mean the part where Santo defeats a Japanese wrestler for some important title.
Rise Above Entertainment presents SANTO VS. FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER on DVD for the first time to a U.S. audience, and it contains optional English subtitles over the original Spanish language dialog. The fourth Santo title they've released, it's also the best in terms of quality. The color palette is very impressive, and the full frame image is fairly sharp with little print damage apparent. The Spanish mono audio is rendered fine with no noticeable defects.
Extras include (again) "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. DR. FRANKENSTEIN, and a very brief black & white still gallery. Liner notes by David Wilt are included in an insert booklet. (George R. Reis)
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