Santo’s Uneven Hammer Rip-off

While a black-and-white Santo in The Treasure of Dracula was originally made for Mexican audiences, a sexier color version with some nudity was simultaneously made for European audiences. Thought lost for decades, producers accidentally discovered original prints still existed of the color version in the early 2010s. VCI has now issued this color version with an odd English dub on Blu-ray.

The silver-masked Santo is one of the greatest and most famous Mexican luchadors. Parlaying his fame as a professional wrestler, Santo starred in over 50 cheap b-movies during the ’60s and ’70s. Always wearing his mask, Santo in the films was a brilliant scientist and always used his wrestling abilities for good. He’s such a genius he single-handedly invents a time travel machine in this movie.

Santo in The Treasure of Dracula is intended as a cheesy b-movie but it isn’t much fun

It’s rumored that Santo himself was unhappy with the nudity and didn’t want it tarnishing his image as a Mexican wrestler and film icon. So he possibly struck a deal with director René Cardona to keep the sexier color version off the market. Tame by today’s standards, the uncut color version probably would have shocked Mexican audiences back in the 1960s.

The decidedly low-brow movie is patently ridiculous, smashing together time travel with a gothic Dracula lusting after every woman in sight. Dracula here is a Lothario seducing a harem of women he controls. Santo in The Treasure of Dracula is intended as a cheesy b-movie thriller but it isn’t much fun. What could have been mindless fun like Bat Woman ends up being a dull action thriller with a little topless nudity thrown in for more lurid tastes.

Emulating the gothic atmosphere of the Hammer vampire flicks popular at the time, Santo’s close companion Luisa uses Santo’s time-travel machine to visit the past. There the woman meets Dracula, who soon falls for her and wants to make her his eternal bride. This Dracula has nothing on Christopher Lee, made up with far too much eye-liner.

Without spoiling things much further, Luisa returns to the present and Santo eventually uses his wrestling skills to conquer evil and find Dracula’s treasure. None of it makes much sense except in an extremely campy manner.

If you don’t care about the laughable attempt at imitating Hammer, I’m guessing the main reason anyone would care to watch Santo in The Treasure of Dracula is its vintage period nudity. Actress Noelia Noel as Luisa is an attractive lead and Dracula’s harem of ladies all briefly get naked. The problem is that everything becomes tedious and a slog after Luisa returns to the present.

Video

VCI includes the uncut color version with full nudity in what can only be called an erratic, ugly Hi-Def presentation. VCI claims this is a 4K restoration, but they never say from what. It’s almost certainly not a 4K film scan from the negative. The video quality would fit better on DVD than Blu-ray with everything going on. Color bleeding, optical distortions, damaged film elements, inaccurate grading, crushing, and more problems make their presence felt. Bootleg manufacturers have higher standards.

The main feature runs 86 minutes on a BD-25. Receiving a poor AVC encode with macroblocking and other issues, the blatantly filtered transfer has deficient detail. The 1.78:1 widescreen video is slathered with ringing.

Fans should keep their expectations in check if they’ve never seen one of these cheap Mexican productions on home video. There’s no Hollywood studio that would release something in this condition on Blu-ray. It’s picture quality is more suitable for a budget DVD with myriad problems. No self-respecting videophile will enjoy this abomination.

Audio

Once again VCI makes the curious decision of only including a poor English dub for a Mexican film originally made in Spanish. It’s hard pinpointing when this heavily-accented English dub was made. The recording quality doesn’t sound particularly new and may go back years. There are a few sync issues.

The 2.0 monaural PCM soundtrack is serviceable at best with too much reverb happening. It is a harsh recording with some annoyances. Dialogue is intelligible but upfront in the mix, often as loud as bigger audio elements like effects. This is a crude mono mix that isn’t ready for lossless audio.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a yellow font. These are dubtitles made from the English dub.

Extras

VCI digs up trailers for other Santo masterpieces from the 70s and a lengthy featurette comparing this color version with the original black-and-white Mexican release. The Blu-ray is coded for all regions.

Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and The Wolf Man Trailer (02:40 in HD)

Santo and the Revenge of the Mummy Trailer (02:42 in HD)

Santo vs. The Riders of Terror Trailer (02:03 in HD)

Santo in the Revenge of La Llorona Trailer (02:57 in HD)

Comparison Featurette (24:58 in HD) – Scenes from the 1969 black-and-white Mexican version with no nudity are compared against scenes from the color version made for Europe. The black-and-white excerpts are in terrible picture quality, hardly qualifying for DVD standards.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Santo in The Treasure of Dracula
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A poor Santo adventure with time travel and Dracula which is horribly treated by VCI.

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