-Santo vs. the Martian invasion-
Luchador films are Mexican professional wrestling/action/science-fiction/horror films starring some of the most popular masked luchadores (wrestlers) in Lucha Libre (Free Wrestling). The luchadores are portrayed as superheroes engaging in battles against a range of characters from spies, to vampires and martians. These films were low-budget and produced quickly. Nearly all lucha films included fist-fighting and wrestling action sequences which were choreographed and performed by the stars without the aid of stunt doubles. The genre’s popularity peaked during the mid-1960s to early-1970s.
One of the most well-known Mexican superheros / luchador action film stars was Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta (1917 – 1984), more widely known as El Santo (The Saint) who starred in 52 films. He was one of the most famous and iconic of all Mexican luchadores, and has been referred to as one of “the greatest legends in Mexican sports.” He started wrestling competitively in 1934 and 8 years later he used the name “El Santo” for the first time. His wrestling career spanned nearly five decades, during which he became a folk hero and a symbol of justice for the common man through his appearances in comic books and movies.
In 1952, the artist and editor José G. Cruz started a Santo comic book, turning Santo into the first and foremost character in Mexican popular literature. The Santo comic book series ran continuously for 35 years, ending in 1987.
Santo’s film career really took off in 1961, with his third movie “Santo vs The Zombies.” Santo was given the starring role with this film, and was shown for the first time as a professional wrestler moonlighting as a superhero. Santo eventually appeared in 52 films until 1982.
El Santo was known to never remove his mask, even in private company. When travelling on flights, he made sure to take a different flight from his crew to avoid having them see his face when he was required to remove his mask to get through customs. Since his regular mask did not allow him to eat, he had a special “mealtime” variation made with the mouth cut away.
Just over a year after his retirement (in late January 1984), El Santo was a guest on Contrapunto, a Mexican television program and, completely without warning, removed his mask just enough to expose his face, in effect bidding his fans goodbye. It is the only documented case of Santo ever removing his mask in public. He died from a heart attack, a week later. As per his wishes, he was buried wearing his famous silver mask. His funeral is considered one of the biggest in Mexican history as fans and friends flocked to see “el Enmascarado de Plata” (The Silver-Masked One) for last time.
Santo, el enmascarado de plata, vs. la invasión de los marcianos
(Santo, the silver masked man, vs. the Martian invasion) Mexico, 1967 (35mm, b/w, 85 min.)
Extraterrestrials invade Earth seeking human specimens. Announcing themselves in apocalyptic television broadcasts, then tele-transporting themselves to private homes and public sporting events, the platinum-bewigged, mylar-clad, macho Martians, backed by scantly dressed female beauties as counterparts, kidnap select humans, obliterating others with vaporizing rays. But heroic masked wrestler “Santo” neutralizes the invaders with his incredible wrestling prowess, after respectfully consulting a famous scientist and the local priest—thus mediating between Mexico’s high-tech future and its traditional past to restore peace and order to the nation. ¡Bien hecho, luchador!
Wikipedia: Luchador films
Hammer Screenings: ¡Aztec Mummies & Martian Invaders!
IMDb: Santo el Enmascarado de Plata vs la invasión de los marcianos
(re)search my Trash: Santo, from King of the Ring to B-Horror Icon
The Comics Grid: “¡Santo!”: The Stuff of Legend