2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 2: Santo vs El Estrangulador (1965)

2. MASKS ARE STILL REQUIRED: You know it, at least one character has to wear a mask for the entire movie

Have I ever told you how much I love lucha movies? Oh, only a few thousand times? Well, let’s return to the world of Santo, a place that director René Cardona is an expert at depicting. And you may be surprised to learn that Santo doesn’t turn up for nearly half an hour, but what does happen are five musical numbers, because that’s exactly why we watch a movie about masked wrestlers.

Like a proto-giallo villain, The Strangler is, well, strangling beautiful women and leaving behind a calling card — a gardenia that Santo claims has two meanings, love and death. My research has shown that gardenias really symbolize purity, gentleness and joy, as well as the secret love between two people. It’s also connected to the world of the occult and is often tied into the arcane mystery behind why people are attracted to one another. I’m just a dude writing about movies and not a man brave enough to wear a silver mask and battle the supernatural, so maybe just listen to Santo and make him feel good about it.

For some reason, the Strangler continually forgets his gimmick and stabs people. I guess a title like Santo vs. El Estrangulador que a Veces usa un Cuchillo También was too wordy of a title. Also, spoiler warning, but The Strangler may be LGBTQ-leaning, as well as a former lothario who slept with enough women to get acid launched in his face. Now, he kills women.

The Strangler was popular enough to get a sequel battle against Santo, 1966’s El Espectro del Estrangulador. I’m all for Santo having a more regular rogue’s gallery. I am not for the goofball kid named Milton who keeps trying to get our hero to adopt him. Hey Milton, Santo doesn’t have time, he has multiple professors’ daughters to romance and battle against vampires and werewolf women and you’re just a target. Go to school and leave the Man in the Silver Mask alone!

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