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Cinema in the Cemetery: Lucha libre star El Santo faces off against trinity of monsters

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The Cinema in the Cemetery fall film series returns this weekend to the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery with a screening of an El Santo film featuring Mexico’s most famous professional wrestler/film star.  

Santo Y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos is one of the many campy lucha libre films in which El Santo, a.k.a. Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, plays himself as a professional wrestler who moonlights as a superhero. In this particular film, which is number 22 of his 52 movies, El Santo teams up with Blue Demon (Alejandro Muñoz Moreno) to fight off the mad scientist Dr. Halder as well as Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Cyclops.

Guzmán Huerta performed in all 52 of the El Santo films, which began production in the late 1950s. At the time, he was already a famous professional wrestler, and had also inspired a comic book by José G. Cruz. By the time El Santo made El Santo and Blue Demon, the filmmakers had started running out of plots.

“They decided, 'We need to ramp it up and get people interested int this again,'” says John Edward Moret, film programmer for the Trylon, which co-presents the series with Friends of the Cemetery. “So they brought out all the monsters.”

El Santo was also not in the best shape when he made this particular movie. “He’s no longer attractive and kind of heavy, but there’s something about him that’s really charming.” 

In 2013, when Moret was working as a volunteer for Trylon microcinema, he approached the Friends of the Cemetery about the possibility of showing a film there. They ended up screening a Spanish-language version of Dracula, in part because of the neighborhood’s large Latino population, as well as a reminder of the cemetery's historical roots as a resting place for immigrants in the 1850s and '60s.

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That was the impetus behind screening an El Santo film as well. “We were looking for something that could draw out the neighborhood a little more,” Moret says. “It’s a highly Spanish-speaking neighborhood.”

The film was also a good fit because it’s “semi-horror related, but also family-friendly,” he says.

In addition to the film, Taco Taxi will be on hand for people to grab snacks from while they watch the film. Local pro wrestler Spiderbaby will introduce the show.

Later this fall, the series continues at the cemetery with screenings every two weeks. They plan to show The Haunting, Poltergeist, and Hexan, a silent 1922 film that will be accompanied by the Rats and People motion picture orchestra, performing an original score.

IF YOU GO:

Santo Y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos 

8 p.m. Saturday, August 29

Minneapolis Pioneers & Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

2945 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis 

$5 in advance, $8 at the gate

Presented in Spanish with English subtitles. No pets or alcohol.