It being October means reviewing something that fits in well with the Halloween season. What better show to capitalize on that than this particular episode of The Stain that features a short homage to the old school El Santo vs. movies, directed by Guillermo Del Toro himself.
We first see a movie’s title card appear on the screen, which reads in Spanish: Angel contra los Vampiros Maldito, which is poorly translated in subtitles to “Angel vs. The Vampires.” It really should’ve been the Damn Vampires or maybe damned? I mean, given the context, damned does seem more appropriate. Regardless, they dropped a word from the translation. Also dropped was Angel’s entire wrestling name. The name Silver Angel translates into Spanish as El Angel de Plata. But I guess that was too long to fit on the title card. Moving on.
I dug the look of the movie and the accompanying VHS effects, like the tracking and fast forwarding. It really helped in dating the film and how old it was, even though it being in black and white and having film reel scratches would date it to the 60’s, instead of the era of 80’s & 90’s VHS tapes, but to any kid born after 2000, VCR’s and VHS tapes might as well have been from the 60’s. As the announcer introduces the combatants, Silver Angel, and… Vampire Luchador, respectively, we catch a glimpse of the layout of the ring. Props to the guys who put it together and paid attention to the fact that every major wrestling ring in Mexico is known for having a Mexican beer advertisement in the center of it. But those same guys also lose points for not getting an actual beer to sponsor that logo. Organic product placement like that is hard to come by.
So Angel is up against the Vampire Luchador, and his manager, who looks like Ripper from Last Action Hero, but with a beard. It’s actually Santiago Segura, a go-to actor that Del Toro casts in some of his films, and shows up on IMDB as the uncredited “Evil Boxing Coach.” As for the two actual luchadores in the ring? They’re not even credited on IMDB, so I have no idea who they are, or if they’re actual pro wrestlers/luchadores.
Vampire Luchador starts things off with a monkey flip, sending Angel across the ring. Then, present-time Angel decides to fast-forward through the rest of the match. Amidst the even faster-paced action, we see Vampire Luchador pull off that corkscrew headscissors thing Mil Mascaras used to do, that WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins now does. Angle basically fast-forwards through all of the Vampire Luchador’s offense, then hits play just as he’s about to set up a suplex. Afterwards, Angel applies a camel clutch, and instantly goes for the guy’s mask. Anybody who watches lucha libre will tell you that this is an automatic disqualification. And is typically a rudo (bad guy) go-to move, but I guess Silver Angel had already suspected Vampire Luchador of being a vampire, so he doesn’t care. Then again, Angel acts somewhat surprised when he finds an actual vampire underneath the mask. “El Vampiro!” he shouts out.
Silver Angel has come prepared to deal with these types of opponents and busts out the holiest of foreign objects: two crucifix-shaped defibrillators and presses them against the Vampire’s chest. Naturally, it burns his skin, forcing the Vampire Luchador to retreat in bat form. Angel automatically assumes that the Vampire is heading towards the castle and heads off after him. It’s amazing how much Angel knows five minutes into the movie. Also, the audience doesn’t seem too fazed by the fact that they just saw a luchador turn into a bat, and simply cheer Angel to go after him.
Some more fast-forwarding gets us to the Vampire Luchador’s castle dungeon lair. Following close behind Angel is the Evil Boxing Coach. As Angel enters the lair he proclaims, “The secret laboratory. I’ve finally found it.” Again, in real time, after the fast-forwarding, we’re probably like, 7-10 minutes into the movie. When the hell was he made aware of the fact that a secret laboratory existed and was somehow related to a vampire luchador he would eventually meet? Maybe this is just going that extra mile in their homage to the original Santo vs. movies and their terribly written scripts.
Angel discovers the Death Machine, but soon has to defend himself from female vampires that appear from within the many coffins propped up, which he probably should’ve checked out on his way to the Death Machine. He easily scares them away, but then the Evil Boxing Coach shows up with an executioner’s axe, again, just like Ripper from Last Action Hero. He tries to kill Angel, but Angel dodges him and the dude lightly bumps into the Machine of Death and is instantly electrocuted to death Brell-style from No Holds Barred. More female vampires appear and try to restrain Angel as the Vampire Luchador reappears and makes his way towards him. They exchange some phony fisticuffs, but at one point, Vampire Luchador actually breaks the Silver Angel’s leg. Just then, the movie stops when someone off camera tells Angel that his break time is over.
We see the older, present-day, Angel leave his chair and walk over to the TV. Angel is portrayed by Joaquin Cosio, who’s no stranger to playing retired luchadores. He played one in the film, Matando Cabos, and is also playing Ignacio Vera, the man who trained Blue Demon Sr., in the upcoming autobiographical series of Blue Demon’s life. Angel pops the VHS tape out from the VCR and slides it into the sleeve for El Angel de Plata vs. El Señor de las Tiniebla. So, either Angel is one of those careless bastards who doesn’t care for organization and just puts his tapes in random VHS sleeves, or somebody in the Props Department wasn’t paying attention to what movie was actually playing. After Angel longingly stares at the cover art, he places the tape back onto a stack of other El Angel de Plata vs. tapes and hobbles his way up the steps. I don’t know what’s sadder, that Angel spends most of his breaks watching his old B-movies or that his wrestling/movie career ended due to an on-set injury while filming a movie, instead of inside the ring.
The retired luchador continues with his day washing dishes and trying to protect the beautfiul daughter of the Indian restaurant owner from a “cholo” who happens to drop in twice to eat there. The cholo being Gus Elizalde, one of the show’s main characters, I’m assuming. Later on, Gus confronts Angel in the alley way and recognizes him as the famed Silver Angel, all because of Angel’s limp and his physique, despite being 100 pounds heavier, and because the owner happened to call him by his name. This Gus dude is one damn good detective. Angel denies his wrestling roots, like he’s Al Madril, and tells Gus to leave and never come back.
Like always, there’s other stuff going on in the actual A-story of this particular episode, but none of it involves wrestling, or El Angel de Plata, so I’m obviously not going to waste any more time typing up words about it.