Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata vs La Invasion de los Marcianos (Santo, The Silver Mask Man vs The Martian's Invasion) is a Black and White Mexican movie from 1966, part of wrestler/actor El Santo's series of movies.
In the film, a group of Martians comes to Earth and demand that humanity give up on war -since they fear that a nuclear war will disrupt the solar system (?)- or they will be destroyed, but are initially disbelieved by the public (and the government hides the truth to avoid a panic.)
The aliens land near Mexico City and begin kidnapping people to take back to Mars as part of their research for the invasion. In particular, the Martian Leader becomes obsessed with capturing El Santo, who keeps defeating them. Eventually they try using human disguises as part of their operation, but still cannot catch Santo.
Eventually, Santo, with help from a scientist friend (and a teleportation belt stolen from one of the Martians) manages to find their spaceship. Conveniently, the Martians have run out of the special pills that allow them to breath Earth's atmosphere, and Santo's attack prevent them from taking off, so they all die from asphyxia. After releasing all the abductees, Santo uses an (also incredibly convenient) self-destruct mechanism to destroy the spaceship, to keep its technology from falling in the wrong hands.
While it might sound and look silly today, the story is played straight, and even has moments of scientific and moral speculation. Unfortunately its special effects were poor even for the time it was made (though average by the standards of Santo movies).
Tropes in Santo vs The Martian Invasion include:
- Affably Evil: The Martians. They argue with the humans that they should surrender since they are superior (not that it keeps them from resorting to violence) and even speak with the Spanish equivalent of "thous" and "thees".
- Alien Abduction: The abductees include a normal family, scientists (including Santo's ally, Professor Ordorica), a Catholic Priest, and a Science Fiction writer (?)
- Aliens in Cardiff: OK, it makes sense for a Mexican production to have events happen in Mexico, but it still involves all of the greatest minds on Earth (that the Martians care about) living within a few minutes' drive of each other someplace in the suburbs of the Federal District.
- All Men Are Perverts: The Martians count on using the appearance of their (transformed) females to lure in their male targets. For the most part, it works.
- All Myths Are True: Professor Ordorica casually tells Santo Atlantis (a mythical place in our world) was not only real, but also a Martian colony of some kind. The topic is not further explored.
- All Part of the Show: The aliens broadcast their demands all over Earth, but are believed to be just a prank or TV show. It likewise takes a while for people to catch on Santo is, in fact, fighting a Martian in a Lucha ring (and not a regular Luchador).
- Anti-Villain: The Martians are a very Affably Evil bunch, not foreign to codes of conduct (they honor the Priest's request that they don't commit violence in sacred ground, for example) and somewhat well-intentioned in their goal to make mankind give up their nuclear folly.
- Artistic License Astronomy: a nuclear war might kill all life on Earth, but that wouldn't affect Mars in any way. Perhaps they meant they were afraid humans might attack them someday if they ever developed the means to travel to Mars, but it wasn't made clear.
- Atomic Hate: This film was made during the height of the Cold War and does it reflect Mexico's anti-nuclear policies, as basically every single character in the movie despises nuclear weaponry, heroes and villains alike.
- Badass Normal: For all their powers and technology, the aliens cannot beat one human wrestler, though they do observe he is "abnormally" strong (which either implies Santo is just a extraordinary man or actually superhuman).
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: Hercules (the strong Martian) infiltrates a Lucha ring and fights Santo during one of his bouts in an attempt to establish his superiority. It doesn't work. Later, Santo exploits this concept by baiting the Martians into trying to beat him at his own game and staging a fight in which he can beat them (which is essentially the climax of the movie).
- The Big Guy: Hercules, the strongest Martian. He seems to be unique among his people, as he's the only one strong nough to fight Santo.
- Bittersweet Ending: El Santo triumphs, but the narrator (who shares a voice with El Santo, so it may actually be him) muses out loud if Santo truly saved mankind or if he merely delayed our destruction via our own savage use of nuclear weaponry. Noticeably, the last shot is a very forlorn Santo walking away into the night while this philosophizing happen.
- Brains and Brawn: Santo is very clever, but he is still primarily the muscle to Professor Ordorica's brain. The Martians actually point out how Santo represents mankind's physical acumen at its best while Ordorica represents our intellectual acumen at its best.
- The Cape: Santo. He actually wears a cape too.
- Crazy-Prepared: When a Martian unmasks Santo forcefully during a Lucha, he (and the audience) quickly discover Santo wears a second mask underneath his first one.
- Deus ex Machina: The Martians finally waste all of their alloted time on Earth trying to get rid of Santo and suffocate just as he's approaching the ship — Santo only needs to go inside, release the people that were abducted, and notice the fact that all of them dropped dead trying to each a specific lever in the control room, that of the ship's Self-Destruct Mechanism.
- Distracted by the Sexy / Not Distracted by the Sexy: The Female Martians even infiltrate government celebrations merely by being drop-dead gorgeous, a effect often enhanced by their hypnotic powers. Santo, on the other hand, isn't really affected (or only for brief seconds when they use the hypnosis).
- Food Pills: The Martians feed their prisoners with them.
- Holding Out for a Hero: The first, last and only line of defense mankind has against the Martians is El Santo, so there are several points on the film in which our fate hangs in the balance as Santo races to fight the Martians.
- Hollywood Evolution: The aliens claim to be evolutionary superior to humans, both physically and morally. But other than their powers (and a third eye, which they call their Astral Eye) they aren't really that different from humans. The movie also mentions a theory that ancient Atlanteans may also have been evolved humans.
- Humans Are Bastards: What the Martians believe. It is pointed to them that they are Not So Different.
- Informed Attractiveness: Played with: the aliens consider humans hideous and despise having to take human form... despite looking almost human. (additionally, ALL the Martian actors were extremely handsome or attractive.)
- In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Arguing that mankind's nature is inherently self-destructive (particularly now with nuclear weaponry) is the main thesis of The Martians. The movie itself actually ends on a open-ended note whether they were right or not.
- Just One Man: The Martians at first scoff at Santo standing in their way, as he is just one man. They quickly learn the error of their ways.
- Mexico Is The Center Of The World: Of all the nations on Earth, the aliens choose Mexico to land in. This is because of their anti-nuclear stance, supposedly.
- Meaningful Name: All the Martians adopt monikers of Greek deities to reflect their nature, something explicitly pointed out by their leader (evidently named Zeus).
- Mind Control: Possessed by the female Martians, and a male one.
- Noble Demon: The Martians take prisoners and seem to treat some select individuals with a great deal of respect, such as the Priest (even honoring the Priest's request that they don't fight Santo inside the church) and Professor Ordorica.
- The Professor: Professor Ordorica, a well-known nuclear physicist and Santo's ally. He even gets a public celebration in his honor! He also invents a device that helps Santo track the Martians.
- Psychic Powers: The aliens "astral eye" allows them to paralyze or disintegrate people.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: With a third eye on it.
- Rule of Symbolism: The Martians's seemingly random abductions seem to reflect pillars of Mexican national identity: they kidnap a heterosexual, working class family, a Catholic Priest, a anti-nuclear Professor, a politician, a writer, and have their eyes on a Luchador. The fact they're blonde, European-looking invaders using the names of the Greek pantheon (in contrast to the more Catholic Santo) enhances this.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This is one of the most cynical films of El Santo's filmography, reflecting to an extent the overall pessimism about nuclear war of the time (the film being made only three years after the Cuban Missile Crisis).
- Space Clothes: Including capes, though oddly the (male) Martians went shirtless.
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Santo wears quite a fancy cape, which he takes off for his ring Lucha fights. He even makes sure to pick up his cape before he teleports to fight the Martians in the final battle.
- Teleporters and Transporters: The Martians use teleportation belts, even in human form (this of course gives them away.)
- Villain Has a Point: The film is very sympathetic to the Martians's aims (to rid our world of nuclear weaponry), taking more of a beef with their methods.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Martian can take temporary human forms using a special chamber in their ship. They lose their powers (except mind control) in this form however.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Martians cannot breathe oxygen and must take special pills to survive on Earth.
- Would Hurt a Child: One of the very first things the Martians do to display their superiority is vaporize a entire stadium of people, and this includes several children. This is the act that earns them Santo's enmity forever and he brings it up, quite enraged, a few times.
- The World Is Not Ready: Professor Ordorica urges Santo to not destroy the Alien technology, as it could benefit mankind immensely. Santo immediately retorts that humanity would promptly just use that advanced technology to find even deadlier ways of harming itself. The Professor has no response for this, and Santo thus destroys the tech in short order.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: The Martians are quite complimentary of Professor Ordorica's scientific accomplishments, El Santo's physical accomplishments and the Priest's spiritual accomplishments, viewing them as standing heads and shoulders above the more puny mankind around them.
- You Are Not Ready: The government fears that there will be chaos if the invasion is revealed as true. When it eventually is, there is fear but things are successfully kept under control.
- Zeerust: The Martians shiny silver capes and funny helmets scream outdated 60's sci-fi.