Santo vs. the Terror Riders AKA Santo contra los jinetes del terror AKA Santo vs. the Riders of Terr [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (24th March 2024).
The Film

El Santo, the Silver-Masked Man, rides into the Wild West in Santo vs. the Riders of Terror (Santo contra los jinetes del terror), a unique blend of gunplay and lucha libre action.

When a group of lepers escape from their asylum, they fall under the influence of a band of outlaws who are terrorising a small western town. The desperate sheriff calls for El Santo to defeat the bandits, defend the townsfolk, and help the exploited lepers.

Produced by Guillermo Calderón (The Bat Woman) and directed by René Cardona (The Panther Women), Santo vs. the Riders of Terror sees the cine de luchadores meet the ‘chili western’ and adds dashes of horror and romance along the way.

This striking 4K restoration is also coupled with Lepers and Sex (Los leprosos y el sexo), the recently rediscovered ‘sexy’ reworking of Santo vs. the Riders of Terror, which was created by the producers for the export market – all without the knowledge of the family friendly El Santo!


El Santo , the Luchador, (real name Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta , 1917-84) was a Mexican masked wrestler and actor who headlined 54 films between 1958 and 1982. By my reckoning (using Wikipedia as my guide) this is the 27th Santo film. The kind of film that wouldn't get made today owning to its use of lepers as an exploited plot point. If the viewer can get by that and accept this as a product of a different era, then it's a fun, short superhero western, for Santo essentially acts in the narrative of these films as a superhero.
Santo vs. the Riders of Terror and Lepers and Sex were restored in 4K by Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance from a combination of original camera negatives and master positive elements. The film’s mono audio was remastered from the original optical soundtrack.
We have Two versions of the film presented here, the 1970 original and a sexed up version that appeared sometime later. Most of the footage is common to both and my comments will apply to those sequences. The extra bits that appear in Lepers and Sex (such a to-the-point title if ever there was one!) are obviously from a lesser source albeit a film one. Contrast, colours and especially black levels suffer somewhat although they're never disastrous. Black levels are in those segments are more a dark gray and show signs of mild crush. I'd say this is down to the fact they're a generation or two away from the OCN used for the original film. In any case, the main presentation is the original, mainstream edit and that looks fabulous.

Colours are rich and well defined throughout with vivid primaries, deep blue skies and ruddy flesh tones. There was a couple of bits here and there where I thought I could detect a little orange and teal creeping in but that may just be me. This is a very professionally shot, well shot film that has a pristine, healthy looking, filmic image. Contrast is punchy, black levels are perfect, dark and deep with no signs of crush and plenty of shadow detail. Night time shooting fairs less well obviously but looks as good as it's possible to be. There is softness obviously in bits where optical printing is involved like wipes, scene changes, fades, credits sequences etc. those bits will always have looked this way so no demerits.

There's a decent layer of filmic grain across every shot, finer in more well lit scenes, courser in darker. Detail is exceptional, especially in closeups. The encode is superb ensuring that it all remains like 35mm colour film. There's no signs of digital tinkering at all and it's pristine: not a single speck or dirt, hairs in the gate nor age-related damage. It could've been shot yesterday, albeit in 1970! The whole of the original Riders of Terror version rates an 'A' as it's as good as it's possible to look in 1080p24 from the 4K restorations. Obviously, an UHD BD release with higher dynamic range would rate 'A+'. The lepers and Sex version would rate 'B+' so collectively I'm giving this 'A-'.

1080p24 / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.66:1 / 77:50, 84:30


Spanish LPCM 1.0 (48kHz, 16-bit)
Subtitles: English (optional)

Sound is as you'd expect from a mono track for a film of the period, solid with good fidelity if limited range. Dialogue is production sound (no dubbing) and always clear. Scoring is well balanced, sound effects come through clearly and there's the expected levels of very mild hiss, especially when the soundtrack is played louder than usual but no distortion creeps in. The optional .english subtitles are typically excellent and comprehensive ('B+').


Audio commentary on "Lepers and Sex" with film historian David Wilt (2024)

Wilt has planned his spiel and does a good job in covering the themes and other aspects of the film. It was wise to place his yaktrak over the sexy version because he can deal with the main film and the extra footage. The Santo phenomenon, the cast, crew, the American releases of the film and obviously nudity in Mexican films is covered in a fair amount of detail as well as many other aspects of this production along the way. Obviously, the two versions are compared with some detail on how sensitive the treatment of the Lepers is certainly for this era. Most interesting are Wilt's comments on the pruriently filmed, morally objectionable rape scene; he points out how wrong-headed it is in how the woman is shown to take pleasure from it. Presented in lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (48kHz, 192Kbps).

"The New Sheriff in Town: Armando Silvestre on His Early Career and Relationship with the Calderón Family" 2024 interview (12:14)
"Western a la Mexicana: The Killer Film on Santo vs. the Riders of Terror and Lepers and Sex" 2024 interview (11:42)
"Cardona Bonanza: Armando Hernandez on René Cardona and the Cardona Filmmaking Dynasty" 2024 interview (8:13)

32:09 worth of interviews covering various aspects of this production. The first is an interview with actor Silvestre who plays the heroic sheriff in the film and his other roles for the Calderón family and their movies; possibly done for something else, Silvestre is 98 this year but looks much younger here. His career in Hollywood also gets a look-in covering his studio training and the various Hollywood actors he worked and trained with. There are some amusing anecdotes about working with the easygoing Santo. Featurette #2 is Luchador film specialist "The Killer Film" (masked obviously) who gives us a history of the Lucha Libre Mexican masked wrestler sport and how it fits into the history of Mexico. Santo bs the Riders of Terror is also discussed. Finally we get a piece with Hernandez speaking in English outlining the Cardona family filmmaking dynasty starting in the thirties. All are presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with lossy Spanish (and English for the third piece) Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (48kHz, 192Kbps) with optional English subtitles for Spanish dialogue.

French Titles (1:43)

Presented in 1080p24 1.66:1 with lossy Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (48kHz, 192Kbps) with no subtitles.

Original Theatrical Trailer (4:03)

Vintage promo presented in 1080p24 1.37:1 with lossy Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (48kJz, 192Kbps) with optional English subtitles.

Santo vs. the Riders of Terror Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (56 images)

Excellent HD gallery.

80-page liner notes 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

New and old writing on the film as well as plenty of contextual material add to the enjoyment and appreciation of this wild little film.


Not sent for review.


A lavish packaging presenting a superb restoration of one of El Santo's most unusual and enjoyable films. It's certainly an improvement on the two fun but slight initial B&W Santo films released last year by Powerhouse Films. Goofy, silly, tasteless (especially the sexed up version that runs six minutes linger due to the addition of softcore sexy bits) this is a good time at the home cinema and looks and sounds peachy keen. Beautifully restored image and sound, this looks and sounds about as good as it can shy of 4K. Highly recommended ('A-').

The Film: B- Video: A- Audio: B+ Extras: A Overall: A-


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