Santo vs. the Riders of Terror – Indicator

uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/santo-vs-the-riders-of-terror-Blu-ray-indicator.jpg">Director: René Cardona
Screenplay: René Cardona, Jesús ‘Murciélago’ Velázquez (as Jesús Velázquez Quintero)
Starring: Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta (as Santo), Armando Silvestre, Julio Aldama, Mary Montiel, Gregorio Casal, Ivonne Govea
Country: Mexico
Running Time: 78 min (Santo vs. the Riders of Terror) 84 min (Lepers and Sex)
Year: 1970
BBFC Certificate: 18

El Santo (translated as ‘The Saint’ but whose actual name was Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta) was a legendary Mexican luchador (masked wrestler) who transitioned from being a rudo (villain) in the ring to becoming the heroic star of many comic books and films.

Somewhere around the middle of his 54-film oeuvre, Santo invested his own money into one of these productions alongside the Calderón family, whose members were involved in Mexican movies for decades. This film was called Santo vs. the Riders of Terror (a.k.a. Santo contra los jinetes del terror) and saw the star thrown into a classic western setting for a change.

An alternative cut of the film was also made, with three fairly gratuitous sex scenes spliced in, to help sell it to European markets. This was bafflingly titled Lepers and Sex (hardly an enticing prospect). The sex scenes were kept out of the Mexican cut to avoid the country’s strict censorship laws and to maintain Santo’s family-friendly image.


Indicator have recently begun to delve into the world of lucha libre (wrestling) films and have turned their attention to this title, including both the Santo vs. the Riders of Terror and Lepers and Sex versions in a handsomely presented Blu-ray set.

I’d long heard of lucha libre (wrestling) films and have been intrigued by them but never actually sat down and watched any. I didn’t have time to squeeze in the first Santo titles Indicator released (Santo vs. Evil Brain and Santo vs. Infernal Men) but I managed to find a couple of evenings to get this latest release watched and reviewed. My thoughts follow.

In Santo vs. the Riders of Terror, trouble descends upon a small town when a group of lepers escape from a nearby hospital. Panicked townsfolk blame the lepers for a string of robberies, while a cunning outlaw (played by Julio Aldama) sees an opportunity. He manipulates the lepers into committing crimes for him, framing them for his own dirty deeds.


Desperate for a solution, the sheriff (Armando Silvestre) calls upon the legendary masked wrestler, El Santo (playing himself, of course). Santo arrives to find a town gripped by fear and a group of outcasts being scapegoated. Now, the Silver-Masked Man must not only confront the outlaws, but also uncover the truth and defend the misunderstood lepers.

It’s an odd concept on paper, blending the western with the lucha libre and throwing in some lepers, particularly when you add the sex scenes into the mix in the alternative cut. The Calderón family turned their hand to various genres over their lengthy tenure making popular movies in Mexi So, perhaps this unusual genre hybrid isn’t as unexpected as you’d think. In fact, Santo often clashed with some unusual opponents, including zombies, vampires and Martians.

However, as wacky as the concept is, the film largely plays out like a bog standard B-western from the late-50s or early 60s. It just happens to have a guy in a silver mask and some lepers. As such, I hate to say it, but I found the film a little dull.


That’s not to say I was bored. The film moves along at quite a pace, or at least the story does – individual scenes could hardly be called dynamic. My main problem was simply that the film lacked charm or charisma. Santo is a strong physical presence but he doesn’t have a particularly interesting personality. Much like Superman (who I also have little interest in), he’s too honourable and good.

Not helping matters is a rather laborious script with little humour, clumsy exposition and forced moralising.

The action is OK but rather dated (and I was never into wrestling I’m afraid, which didn’t help my appreciation of the film). Plus, Santo doesn’t actually appear until about 20 minutes into the film. As such, he doesn’t seem particularly pivotal to the story (though he saves the day, of course) and seems a little tacked on, as though they were making a standard western, then thought they’d need something else in there to help it sell.


I feel bad about laying into the film though, after finding myself agreeing with a couple of the essays included in the set’s booklet. They describe how important figures in the Mexican film industry shun populist titles like this, deeming them unimportant and not worth preserving. Whilst I agree with the writers that genre movies like the Santo films are equally as important to cinematic history as so-called ‘prestige’ or ‘art’ pictures, I simply didn’t enjoy this film as much as I’d hoped.

So, I guess the Santo movies just aren’t for me. There’s some campy fun to be had here and the story moves along briskly but I found too much of Santo vs. the Riders of Terror to be clunky and bland, including its protagonist.


Santo vs. the Riders of Terror is out on 15th January on region free Blu-Ray, released by Indicator. For the most part, the transfer is stunning – pin sharp with gorgeous, rich, natural colours. There are just one or two moments where there’s some fading or damage. I imagine this was due to irreparable damage to the negative. The sound is robust too.


– 4K restoration from the original negative
– Two presentations of the film: Santo vs. the Riders of Terror, the original Mexican theatrical cut (78 mins); and Lepers and Sex, the extended softcore version (84 mins)
– Original Spanish mono audio
– Audio commentary with film historian and Mexican cinema specialist David Wilt (2024)
– The New Sheriff in Town (2024, 13 mins): previously unseen interview, filmed in 2009, with actor Armando Silvestre, in which he discusses his involvement with the Calderón family
– Western a la mexicana (2024, 12 mins): lucha libre specialist and filmmaker the Killer Film, el critico enmascarado (the masked critic), assesses the film, its different versions, and its place within the film career of El Santo
– Cardona Bonanza (2024, 9 mins): Armando Hernandez, writer, programmer and creator of the Trash-Mex website, discusses René Cardona’s career and the Cardona dynasty
– Alternative French opening credits
– Original theatrical trailer
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
– New and improved English translation subtitles
– Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Colin Gunckel, archival essays by Doyle Greene, Olivia Cosentino and Brian Price, archival interviews with El Santo and Viviana García Besné, and full film credits
– UK premiere of Santo vs. the Riders of Terror on Blu-ray
– World premiere of Lepers and Sex on Blu-ray
– Limited edition of 8,000 individually numbered units for the UK and US


The big selling point for many will be the alternative cuts of the film. As mentioned, the only real difference is the inclusion of a trio of sex scenes (one of which, unfortunately, is a rape scene) but it’s still great to have the option of which version to watch.

There are plenty of other supplements too. In an audio commentary, David Wilt discusses the lives and careers of those involved in the film. He also talks about Mexican wrestling films in general. Wilt certainly knows his onions, so it’s an interesting track, even if there are one or two occasions where he simply states what’s happening on screen – a bugbear of mine.

The actor Armando Silvestre talks about his life and career, particularly his work with the Calderón family. He also talks about Santo, how he always kept his mask on in public and was a pleasant, honest man.

Armando Hernandez discusses René Cardona and the Cardona family’s extensive work in the film industry. He talks about how they are an important part of Mexican cinema history, making a wide range of popular films for decades.

The Killer Film begins by providing a little history which might have informed the film. Then he goes on to talk about the production. He believes Santo’s decision to partly finance the film shows how he was more than just a puppet for producers. The athlete and actor had a say in his public image. The Killer Film also briefly discusses the discovery of the Lepers and Sex cut and what it might prove or disprove about myths that had previously surrounded it.

The booklet is even more stacked than usual. In it, Colin Gunckel talks about the genre hybridity of the film and it might have stemmed from and led. There’s also a sample of Doyle Greene’s book on the deeper meanings of the lucha libre genre and Santo’s important place within it. There’s also an archival interview with Santo himself. Olivia Cosentino and Brian Price discuss the lack of respect often given to populist Mexican cinema of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Finally, Viviana García Besné is interviewed about her family’s involvement in the Mexican film industry and her own work in film preservation.

So, whilst Santo vs. the Riders of Terror didn’t do much for me, I did enjoy hearing about the history behind it. The booklet is particularly good and the transfer is gorgeous, so lucha libre fans should snap this up, even if it wasn’t my cup of tea.


Santo vs. the Riders of Terror - Indicator
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)


No comments so far.

Latest Posts

Hibernating Turtles in the Arctic Circle Slowly Defrost Back to Life As Spring Melts the Ice

Hibernating Turtles in the Arctic Circle Slowly Defrost Back to Life As Spring Melts the Ice

Frozen Planet II shows how how hibernating painted turtles in the Arctic slowly defrost back to life when Spring comes to melt the ice.
Read more
California Fast-Food Restaurant Closes Right After $20 Minimum Wage Raise

California Fast-Food Restaurant Closes Right After $20 Minimum Wage Raise

Foster’s Freeze in Lemoore, California, announced a last-minute shutdown only days after California raised minimum wages for fast food workers
Read more
Gov. Signs 4 Bills of Property Tax Relief from Wyoming, Vetoes One

Gov. Signs 4 Bills of Property Tax Relief from Wyoming, Vetoes One

GovMark Gordon has signed into law a property relief package that will significantly reduce property taxes for eligible residents… Read more
Read more
Teen Patti Game Development

Teen Patti Game Development

Teen Patti, a beloved card game deeply rooted in Indian culture, has transcended traditional boundaries to become a global sensation
Read more
Property Tax Relief from Montana: Deadline is Next Week

Property Tax Relief from Montana: Deadline is Next Week

Montana homeowners who haven’t yet applied for property tax relief from Montana need to hurry up as the deadline is … Read more
Read more
A Pair of Guinea Pigs Engage in an Adorable Parsley Eating Contest

A Pair of Guinea Pigs Engage in an Adorable Parsley Eating Contest

A pair of guinea pigs named Wilbur and Milo engaged in an adorable parsley eating contest while sitting in lovely blue an white floral bowls.
Read more