| MEXICO CITY
MEXICO CITY Mexican wrestler El Santo defeated mummies, Martians, werewolves and zombies in dozens of films during a 40-year career that catapulted him to cult status among film lovers worldwide.
But a never-before-seen performance by the popular wrestler debuts next week in Guadalajara's International Film Festival shows him fighting a new breed of villains: naked she-vampires.
The movie, "El Vampiro y el Sexo" (The Vampire and the Sex), is a director's cut of a late 1960s flick, originally titled "Santo in the Treasure of Dracula", that adds scenes where the hero resists the allure of voluptuous, blood-thirsty, in-the-buff temptresses.
It was the first color movie made by Rodolfo Guzman, better known by his stage name of El Santo (The Saint). But the uncut version was locked away by producer Guillermo Calderon Stell on concerns it would taint the wrestler's family-friendly image at a time when even miniskirts raised brows in conservative Mexico.
"I was intrigued. I had seen so many articles online (on the alleged existence of the film) that I said to myself: 'Let's look for it!'," Calderon's grandniece Viviana Garcia Besne told Reuters in a phone interview on Wednesday.
She found the reels gathering dust in her uncle's storeroom while researching for a documentary about her family's prolific film production during the heyday of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s.
Guzman, who wore a silver mask, tights, briefs and knee-high boots in most of his action scenes, did not shed any additional clothes in the spicy version, which may have been made to target more open-minded European audiences.
Garcia Besne said the wrestler was not involved in any sexual behavior with the she-vampires.
"The image of El Santo is not compromised in any way, he's just fighting the vampires," Garcia Besne said.
Die-hard followers of El Santo knew and talked about the film -- stills showing Dracula goggling over a bare-chested woman have made rounds in fan pages for years -- but the entire movie has never been shown before.
The production is the centerpiece of a vampire movie selection curated by Guillermo del Toro, director of "Blade II," "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth" within the festival (www.ficg.org).
Guzman died in 1984 shortly after retiring from the ring. His image remains popular among kids and grownups in Mexico, Latin America, Japan and Europe, where his movies are branded as surrealist.
(Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz; Editing by Patricia Reaney)