Also known as Santo y el águila real and The Royal Eagle, this movie puts Santo into a strange situation. He gets a call for help from Irma “La Tigresa” Morales (Irma Serrano*, known as La Tigresa de la Canción Ranchera (The Tigress of Ranchera Music) and the star of another movie made in 1973, La Tigresa, in which was directed by one member of this movie’s directing team, Alfredo B. Crevenna**). Her father and brother have already been killed for their land and she fears that she’s next on the list of the evil Manuel Villafuerte.
Santo is able to work his way into any genre and this time, he’s in a combination western and an exploration of the simple village people of Mexico. And these non-city folk seemingly love nothing more than the senseless slaughter of animals, as this movie features a flashback in which we see Irma’s brother go off a cliff on a horse that is completely real, as well as an honest-to-goodness cockfight. She also shoots a rabbit for real to show Santo her marksmanship abilities and then, after Santo’s wine gets drugged, he tests the poison out of a kitten. Later, La Tigresa’s protective eagle La Serrana is placed in a bag and smashed numerous times into a wall, yet somehow survives.
Who was under that silver mask, Ruggero Deodato?
Somehow, this movie also has numerous musical numbers, dancing scenes and a dungeon full of humanity malformed by incest, including an evil hunchback, who all beat the heck out of Santo before he starts giving back body drops to dudes into the hard dirt.
All Santo movies are wild on some level, but this one is one of the oddest ones. Santo is barely even the star of his own movie, standing back so La Tigresa can be tecnico Tura Satana and win over all of our hearts.
*Irma is amazing in this, fighting dudes with her fists and a bullwhip, boasting through song and owning her own cock — for fighting, you little raincoater. In real life, she bought her own theater where she put on highly erotic shows like her take on Emile Zola’s Nanå. In 1977, she collaborated with Jodorowsky to perform the stage play Lucrecia Borgia. They fought throughout and both ended up putting on their own version of the show.
She also put on plays like A Lady Without Camelias, Oh … Calcutta, Yocasta Reina, The Cross-legged War and A calzón amarrado, which was based on her controversial biography as well a series of adults-only midnight plays Emanuele LIVE, Jail for Girls, Vampira! (Emanuele de ultratumba) and Carmen.
La Tigresa is a controversial figure, as she was jailed by Guadalupe Borja, the First Lady of Mexico, for traveling to Los Pinos, the presidential residence, and singing to President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. It would be more than thirty years before Irma owned up to the affair, defending his honor and saying that she was not the person who ordered him to attack the students in the 1968 massacre of Tlatelolco.
She won a senate race in her home state of Chiapas and a few years later, went to jail for brandishing a gun and threatening to kill an ex-tenant. She’s still alive at 87 and one assumes has lived an insane life.
**René Cardona Jr. is the other half of the directing duo.