El Hacha Diabolica (1965)

El Encapuchado Negro is more than just another villain for El Santo to fight. He’s a supernatural force that has been hunting Santo and his family for four centuries. That’s correct. The silver mask has been passed down from generation to generation and it has magical powers because it was created by a magician all the way back in the 17th-century.

I mean, this thing starts with monks solemnly carrying the dead body of Santo to a tomb back in 1603 and we see the black hooded man claim that he will get back at the deceased man in the silver mask no matter what it takes. That would be 1965, as the axeman shows up as Santo is wrestling Lobo Negro. Bullets don’t stop the killer and he doesn’t show up in photos, but his axe nearly kills our tecnico hero.

Santo also has a girlfriend named Alicia, but he’s certain that he has a past love that he just can’t place. He is, however, willing to pull most of his mask to show her his face and make out — but it’s definitely not Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta under the mask for this scene.

The axeman tries to kill Santo again while he sleeps — in his clothes, no less — and he leaves his axe behind. It has the date 1603 and a small occult symbol on it, but so does Santo’s mask! Oh man, as if I couldn’t get into these movies any more. Santo was saved by a woman’s scream and that woman ends up being the ghost of Isabel de Arango. If Santo can stop El Encapuchado Negro, they can fall in love again. Santo, for his part, is dumbfounded by what is happening.

That’s when we learn the truth, as Santo uses a time machine to send his brain back in time. Back then, a man was in love with Isabel, but she only loved Santo. He tried to kill our hero yet Santo beat him in a swordfight before that rudo sold his soul to Satan and got all the power — and gold and gems — he would need to gain her love. Instead, he chains her up in a dungeon and the man who would be the first Santo goes to a magician named Abraca to gain the powers of Santo.

Santo and the Inquisition capture the Black Hood who is burned at the stake — keep this same storyline in mind for El Mundo del los Muertos — but becomes a bat and flies away. Santo decides to live in a monastary as the loss of his love has destroyed his life.

Oh man. It also turns out that Santo’s scientist friend Dr. Zanoni — the one who made the time machine — was really Abraca and he jumps in front of an axe made for our silver masked superhero.  Santo even tries to break up with Alicia for her own safety after the axe murderer possesses one of his opponent, but she dies that same night.

Santo finally tracks down the killer and finds the skeleton of his lost love — well, the first one, not the blonde who was just axe murdered — chained to a wall. Santo goes off and hits the madman with a torch, then impales him when he transforms into a bat. Isabel becomes human and goes to Heaven while Santo is left all alone as even the room transforms from a gothic tableau to an empty room. Man, what a nihilistic ending for our friend.

You could do worse than watching a man who can disappear and then show up ready to chop off Santo’s head at any moment. I kinda love this movie and would probably be even more into it if El Mundo del los Muertos wasn’t an improved remake.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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