Cerebro Del Mal (Review)

Cerebro Del Mal

aka Santo contra cerebro del mal

Written by Fernando Osés and Enrique Zambrano
Directed by Joselito Rodríguez

After three weeks of decorating, Santo finally got his bedroom the way he wanted it. Now to sit back and enjoy.

Before Santo el Enmascarado de Plata became the international super star that punched every monster who ever monsted, he has to start in the beginning of the movie world. Already an established wrestler, by 1952 Santo was now featured in a comic book (which ran for 35 years) and was offered a role in the serial El Enmascarado de Plata. Santo turned down the role (sources vary, but him believing the film wasn’t going to be a hit is the most common reason given.) The serial featured another actor in a silver mask (who became the villain to a white-masked wrestler hero) and was released in an edited into a movie form. But by 1958, the time was ripe for Santo to actually jump into movies himself.

If I catch that drunk Incognito passed out on the job again, he’s fired!

Cerebro Del Mal and Hombres Infernales were both filmed in Cuba in 1958 just before the revolution. They feature the same Mexican director (Joselito Rodríguez) and main cast (Santo, Joaquín Cordero, and Fernando Osés), with Cuban supporting actors and crew. Because this is an early Santo flick, it doesn’t feature many of the common lucha libre film tropes that we’ve all grown to love. Heck, Santo isn’t even the focus of the picture! The plot is more of a crime caper with science fiction elements. Santo barely talks, he’s usually called “the Masked One” by most of the bad guy crew, and both he and the other wrestler El Incognito are the best agents of the police force (while also being citizens of the world or something…) There are no shots of Santo driving around in his convertible, and Santo is even easily defeated by random thugs. Santo isn’t dating a girl, nor do any women even find him or El Incognito desirable.

Of Santo’s 52 films, these first two are the most unlike any of the others. But even still, the seeds of future efforts are planted here. Santo is a figure of justice, this time even working for the police force that will often call on him in later films. There is a mad scientist, hence the title of the film, Cerebro Del Mar. People are hypnotized/mind controlled, which happens a lot in subsequent Santo flicks. And masked people running around Mexico is not considered odd enough for anyone to make comments about it. Cerebro Del Mal is an interesting quaint film, and though it doesn’t achieve the crazed excesses of its progeny, it does hold the promise of more to come.

Breaking Bad: The Lucha Years

Santo (Santo) – Usually referred to as El Enmascarado, Santo is one of the masked police agents. He’s captured in the beginning of the film and brainwashed. He’s then rescued, and continues to play brainwashed to help bring down Dr. Campos. Santo is billed as as “Santo” el Enmascarado de Plata.
El Incognito (Fernando Osés) – Fellow masked wrestling police agent who helps save Santo and gets a bullet in the gut for his trouble. A bullet that only grazes him. In the gut. Fernando Osés would go on to costar in dozens of lucha libre and other Mexican cult cinema, usually as henchmen or goons of the main villain. He helped write the film along with fellow costar Enrique Zambrano.
Dr. Campos (Joaquín Cordero) – Mad scientist who develops the power of brainwashing and decides he’s going to do whatever he wants now, which is sort of bad because he becomes a complete jerk, kidnapping and murdering people.
Elisa (Norma Suárez) – The lovely Elisa is dating Gerardo, but she catches the eye of Dr. Campos, who sets out to kidnap her to brainwash so he can have his way with her.
Gerardo (as Alberto Inzúa) – New assistant to Dr. Campos, and boy does he have the worst boss ever! No only is Dr. Campos a super villain, but he kidnaps Gerardo’s girlfriend Elisa!
Evil scientist and Hallmark store patron!

I got this mail order kit from Lance Armstrong!

Lucha on the run! Santo is trapped in an alley by three thugs bearing chains, switchblades, and brass knuckles. You know we’re in an early Santo film when three normal humans give him a bit of trouble in a fight. Or even defeat him, rendering him unconscious and kidnapping him! Old Man Santo would have punched one of the guys and all three would have fallen unconscious and all their wives pregnant with Santo’s children. But for now Santo is dragged to the countryside lair of a mad scientist named Dr. Campos.

Dr. Campos immediately begins injecting Santo and bombarding him with rays that will allow him to control his will. Dr. Campos is on a scientist kidnapping spree. He grabs so many thanks to the help of the brainwashed Santo (who lurches along half-stumbling in a convincing display of mind-controlled sluggishmenss) that the police led by Lt. Zambrano get off their duff and investigate. They even put guards on Dr. Campos (no one knows is evil at this point) so he doesn’t get kidnapped. Dr. Campos isn’t even fazed, and he still manages to start brainwashing a kidnapped banker to steal money.

Another Luchador! This dude has a black mask and is named El Incognito – and carries a Geiger counter. Makes sense…he’s the tag-team partner!

Can I pull the lever, boss? CanICanICanICanICanICanI?
Can I twist the dial, boss? CanICanICanICanICanICanI?

Next up Dr. Campos wants to kidnap the lovely Elisa, girlfriend of his new assistant Geraldo. But before anything interesting can happen, we have to pad the film with a flamenco performance! Ole!

Then she gets kidnapped.

El Incognito sneaks around the lab – and Santo strikes! They wrestle there, because Lucha movies had not evolved to the point of having wrestling rings as part of the plot in every film.

Santo is injected with the antidote, and at 35 minutes in, the wrestlers finally speak. This was getting too much like Lucha Rififi! Santo agrees to stay undercover as a fake hypnotized Luchador goon.

The terrible secret of Dr. Campos isn’t that he’s kidnapping scientists and hypnotizing them or that he’s kidnapping bank executives and having them rob banks or that he’s kidnapping women and raping them, it’s that he’s selling secrets to the Russians!

Holy Cold War WTF, Batman!

El Incognito had to take a side job with Cox Cable during the off season.
Not a folding chair, but close enough!

For all of Dr. Campos’s supposed genius, he accidentally gives his assistant Gerardo the folders that have the secrets he’s selling. So he tries to drug Gerardo, but does it so clumsily that Gerardo sees him do it. But he forces Gerardo to drink.

But the day is saved when Captain Sambrano leads the cops in to raid the place just as Dr. Campos is selling the secrets to the Russian agents. Santo and Incognito start beating the crap out of all the goons, and Dr. Campos runs off with Elisa.

It’s a hostage crisis as Dr. Campos is trapped, so he shoots Incognito! NoooOOooOOOoOO!! Santo bursts in and they fight….Campos is getting the better of him until Dr. Campos is shot by the cops. Dr. Campos recants to Elisa as he’s dying. Yeah, too little, too late, buddy.

Incognito just had a slight flesh wound, so he and Santo head off to their next mission! Same Saint Time, Same Saint Channel! We are told they hide their faces for the good of mankind. Which implies something awful is beneath them. We are also told they are citizens of the world so they go around the world doing good deeds. Remember when Santo went to South Africa, and was like “Free South Africa, you dumb son of a bitch!” and then apartheid ended? That was cool. Also Incognito got shot there, too. Learn to dodge, buddy!

Time to give you the ol’ Anti-Lance Armstrong!
The only sport represented in lucha libre films as much as wrestling is chess. This is a fact.

Rated 7/10 (Geiger time, cat time, Trio Servando Diaz time, cop time, ambulance time, shot time, Enrique Zambrano time)

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Email us and tell us how much we suck!

Look, buddy, we knew you were an undercover cop because you wear a silver mask all the time…
Santo’s in a tough spot, no folding chairs anywhere in this alley!
One day luchadores wandered onto the set of The Untouchables…
We’re going to have the “Monster carries the girl” trope even if all we have is a crazy mad scientist!
You’re surrounded, even though we’re all out in the front.
Oh, man, that new Taco Bell Breakfast just doesn’t sit right!
Hey, jerk, no knife attacks while wrestling!

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