Full Moon Features: Santo vs. las Lobas (1976)

By the time he starred in 1976’s Santo vs. las Lobas a.k.a. Santo vs. the She-Wolves, the silver-masked Mexican wrestler had been in 45 films in the space of 15 years. In many of those he faced a range of supernatural foes including zombies, vampire women, witches, mummies, werewolves, La Llorona, and even Drácula and the Wolf Man. Consequently, his attitude in this film when he’s first approached about doing battle with a pack of werewolves bent on humanity’s destruction is rather curious. (“I refuse to believe in legends,” he says with what I can only imagine is a straight face.) Santo changes his tune, however, after he’s chased by some German shepherds (which are being passed off by the film as wolves) and has to call for help. And later, when he’s surprised in his spacious apartment by one and is bitten, he learns exactly why it’s in his best interest to take the lycanthrope threat seriously.

The film starts out spookily enough with an unidentified woman (Erika Carlsson) being lured to an abandoned building at night where she’s accosted by an old woman named Luba who tells her she “will mark the destruction of humanity” and “signal the beginning of the eternal rules of lycanthropes.” Doesn’t sound like a bad deal at all, and the old woman has a cadre of hairy-faced, torch-bearing acolytes (men and women) to back her up. They also set upon and devour her after she expires at the hands of her successor, thus making Carlsson the New Luba. This scene is followed by five solid minutes of Santo and an unnamed tag-team partner wrestling with a pair of dirty-fighting opponents who are nevertheless vanquished. (Not that Santo’s pal does much of the vanquishing.) Santo is then approached in succession by New Luba (who’s called both the White Queen and the Silver She-Wolf in the subtitles), whose elided offer he turns down, and private investigator Jaimes Pons (Federico Falcón), who is there on behalf of the mysterious Cesar Harker (second-billed Rodolfo de Anda).

After passing along Cesar’s invitation and being rebuffed by Santo, Jaime is taken out of the picture by its literal femme fatale. Meanwhile, Santo makes a date with Cesar at a fancy hotel with a swimming pool where Cesar is nearly drowned while heroically trying to rescue a floundering guest (guess who), forcing Santo to have to rescue him. In the course of their meeting, Cesar informs Santo that he “must help us end the curse of the werewolves,” and “anyone who’s bitten by one becomes a werewolf on the first Red Moon,” which is apparently imminent. Cesar doesn’t live to see it, however, since he’s killed by the Silver She-Wolf, but not before he fatally shoots her with a silver bullet, thus leaving a new opening for Licar, King of the Lycanthropes (Jorge Russek, pictured above), to fill.

Luckily, Cesar has a brother named Eric who looks enough like him that de Anda can continue drawing a paycheck, and Eric has a fianceé (Nubia Martí, a returnee from Santo y Blue Demon vs Dracula y el Hombre Lobo) and she has a sister (third-billed Gloria Mayo, who gets to be Santo’s chaste romantic interest) who can be potential targets. (After the New Luba’s elimination, there’s much speculation about who her successor will be.) “A new era will begin,” Licar boasts. “Wolf-men will take possession of the Earth.” Again, that sounds okay to me, but when the Red Moon appears with exactly ten minutes left to go in the film, the main thing it does is give co-directors Jaime Jiménez Pons and Rubén Galindo the excuse to throw a red filter over all the night exteriors. As for the tease that Santo himself might be in danger of growing some fangs and fur under its influence, that remains a tease to the abrupt end.