17 May 2000 | kikaidar
Santo vs. an insane master of disguise
Loosely a sequel to SANTO VS. EL ESTERANGULADOR, this is in some ways an extremely odd little crime thriller. Still, from its opening credits, shown over footage of an ambulance speeding through the night, en route to collect the body of the disfigured Strangler, it's an entertaining little romp.
The film opens with the recovery of the body of the Strangler (Roberto Canedo), who had died at the hands of the police, at the conclusion of the first film. The disfigured killer is taken to the city morgue for what turns out to be a brief lay-over.
Reading of the killer's death in the newspaper, Tor (Gerardo Zepeda), the Strangler's assistant, heads for the morgue to recover his master's body. The Strangler, it seems, isn't actually dead...
Reviving in his hideout, the Strangler vows revenge. In yet another Mexican horror film reference to the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the strangler is both facially scarred and spends his free time tickling the ivories on his pipe organ.
At this point, the storyline gets somewhat unusual. The Strangler gets about through the use of lifelike masks. These are dutifully fashioned from the skin of his victims, by the faithful, mute Tor.
Equally unusual is the fact that Santo now has an adopted son, child star Milton (Milton Ray). This character does not appear in any of the other Santo films and, considering the swinging persona Santo displays in a number of his films, the addition of the character seems downright strange. Milton has his uses, however. Santo finds himself troubled with concerns over the boy's safety, as he starts to stalk the revived killer.
The Strangler kills again. Wishing to settle his score with Santo, he lures the Man In The Silver Mask to an abandoned factory in the countryside and places him under a hydraulic press. Unfortunately, the police (alerted by Milton) arrive as the press begins hammering away, and the Strangler and Tor have to flee. By the time the police break into the factory, Santo has managed to escape from the trap.
Musical numbers have long been a part of Mexican cinema, and ESPECTRO contains seven or eight -- some of which have some token connection with the action, but some of which serve only as a pointless annoyance.
In between the warbling, Tor and the Strangler go to a cemetery to dig up his latest victim. Santo confronts them at the graveside and is buried alive for his trouble. He manages to escape, only to face Tor in a wrestling match...the henchman having killed the wrestler Santo was to have competed against.
We switch locales to the theater, where the masked Strangler has replaced the director and is preparing to drop a chandelier onto a singer. The plan fails, and the Strangler retreats to his lair, taking Milton along as insurance.
Santo pursues and falls through a trap door into a gas chamber. Managing to walk up the wall to safety, he has a long fight with the Strangler, during which the hideout is set fire to. The Strangler dies in the flames as Santo and Milton tool away into the night.
Aside from the numerous musical numbers, the addition of Milton, and the repeated nods to the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the film is a fast moving little entry into the series. While some of the traps (Santo being buried alive) aren't handled as well as they could have been, they still offer an interesting feel to the perils he faces in this film.