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Movie Review: ‘Santo en la Venganza de la Llorona’

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Santo en la Venganza de la Llorona

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Originally released in 1974, Santo en la Venganza de la Llorona (Santo in the Vengeance of the Crying Banshee) has a deeper meaning to those of us who grew up in the Southwest, particularly in places like lower California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, as many of our parents and grandparents who emigrated from Mexico brought their lore and shared it with their children. To keep kids away from ditches (used mostly to drain or irrigate crops or provide drinking water to livestock), parents often told the story of the llorona, a young woman who either accidentally or intentionally killed her children by drowning them in a ditch. Because of such a foul deed, she is cursed to wander such ditches as a hideous spectre, drowning children who do not heed her hideous screams an immediately leave such desolate places.

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In this film, Santo shares the screen with Cuban boxer Jose Angel “Mantequilla” (butter, so nicknamed because of his greasy speed) Napoles, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The two make for a great team, with Napoles selling some nice hook-cross combinations and Santo using double-kicks and takedowns with great flair during some of the fight sequences.

The plot embellishes the story of the llorona, this time bringing in a satanic witch to help Eugenia (played by Kiki Herrera Calles) take revenge on her betrothed Gonzaga, who at the last minute has dumped her for another woman but plans to take her children away. The witch agrees to give Eugenia poison, which she will use to kill her children and herself, thus denying Gonzaga any heirs. She also hides her lover’s gold, which he had planned to give to the King of Spain. It is Eugenia’s hope that the king will smell treachery and banish Gonzaga, leaving him destitute.

Although Eugenia carries out her plan, her husband is not punished and does have an heir to carry on his lineage. To avenge this, Eugenia comes back from the dead and begins to kill the descendants of her husband through strangulation. Professor Lira and his grandson are her principal targets.

As she carries out these hideous murders, Santo and Mantequilla spend their time fighting the minions of Severio Segovia, who has learned that there is a treasure map on the back of the llorona’s amulet. The film ends with Santo finding the treasure and giving it all to a children’s charity—the good deed lifts the llorona’s curse and she disappears before she can murder Lira’s grandson.

The story is relatively straightforward and the scenes with the llorona are effective. The makeup for the apparition isn’t bad and the audio and visual effects during her appearances are good. Santo and Mantequilla have chemistry together and the fight sequences are pretty good.

This film is one of four found in Santo and the Monsters Boxed Set, Volume 1.

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