If you think you’ve seen everything, try a Mexican luchador picture!!

I’ve recently written a couple of articles for Influx where I listed my Top 100 Worst (but enjoyable) Films of All Time.  If I’d been really thorough, I could have put a couple dozen Mexican luchador films on the list—but condensed them to one entry saying that ANY of these films could have been included!  They are really bad…but they are also a lot of fun to watch.

The hero in many of these films is el Santo.  In real life, this silver-masked wrestler was famous throughout Mexico long before he began appearing in films in the 1950s.  In total, he made 52 films—and all but the first one starred el Santo himself.  Why didn’t he star in the first?  Well, he assumed the films would be stupid and lose money.  Well, he was right about the first and definitely wrong about the second.  El Santo was such a famous and beloved wrestler that folks flocked to the movies and they made a ton of money.  Unfortunately, they were rarely seen outside of the country.

The plots of these films are ridiculous—much like comic books or if the films were written by folks under the influence!  A few of the folks el Santo battled in these crime fighting films were Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, Martians, Zombies, the Mafia and mummies!!  And, in some he’s assisted by other top Mexican wrestlers—such as Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras.  After all, while el Santo is a powerful fighting man, sometimes when you are fighting against the powers of darkness you could use a few friends!

But it isn’t just the plots of these films that are ridiculous but the day-to-day situations they show in the movies.  For example, in my favorite of the bad luchador films, you see el Santo showering and then going on a date—all while wearing his mask!  Seeing him in a sport coat and enjoying the evening out AND NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE—that is what makes the film so wonderfully bad.

Unfortunately, Netflix has very, very few of these films—and many that WERE available a couple of years back are no longer listed.  So, if you want to see them you either need to find someone with the films (this isn’t very likely unless they are Mexicans) or you’ll have to buy them online.  This is definitely the case of my favorite of these films,  Mystery in the Bermuda Triangle.  This one is very unusual because all three of these beloved wrestlers appear in this one because the enemy is THAT tough!  It features some amazingly silly things—such as rays that make airplanes disappear as well as the three luchadors going undercover to protect a princess who is traveling incognito—yet they are all three wearing their masks as they escort her about town!!

The bottom line is that the filmmakers and cast obviously never took all this very seriously and this kitschy silliness makes the films marvelous fun.  In many ways, the films are like Elvis films—where a pop hero went on to make a ton of super-low budget films with thin plots.  But, they are a heck of a lot more fun than any Elvis movie.

Have you seen a luchador film?  If so, I’d love to hear what you think.  Also, if you have seen the luchador films and like them, also try one of the Aztec Mummy films—including one that manages to combine BOTH genres–Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy.

Article by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer