Unbeknownst to me Superargo and the Faceless Giants is actually the second film in a franchise. I just saw a cool looking super hero dude and thought, “Yes, I will watch this.” I do not regret this decision in the least.
After doing some research on the Internet Superargo Contro Diablokus is the first film, where a professional wrestler, after accidently killing a fellow wrestler, decides to abandon wrestling and dedicate his considerable talents to fighting crime.
Superargo is a delightful mix of El Santo, The Phantom, the Shadow and Diabolik. It’s magically derivative. You can almost feel the separate influences bumping up against each other in the story. Superargo is a wrestler like El Santo, and the almost use those exact words. He wears a bulletproof costume that appears to be a red copycat version of the Phantom’s costume. He studies with a mystic to unlock psychic powers within his brain just like the Shadow. And finally, he has a sleek car, way with the ladies, and is presented within the narrative in very similar ways to Diablolik.
The film itself is slow moving and a little drag in parts. If feels like a cobbled together, rush job. That being said Superargo himself, Ken Wood (or Giovanni Cianfriglia if you prefer birth names) is astoundingly good. He fills out the costume perfectly and really makes you believe that he is a crime fighting/wrestling/psychic superhero. The psychic aspect of his character is truly the most interesting. The film does a fairly adequate job of utilizing Superargo’s extra-normal abilities to the fullest on a shoestring budget.
The most charming aspect of the film, for me, was the Faceless Giants. The villain, Juan, in constructing an army of robot zombie athletes. It’s amazing. Simply, for the fact that the ‘Faceless Giants’ are pudgy stagehands who are probably around 5’ 6’’. The icing on the pudgy robo-cake, though, is the fact that the robots aren’t faceless. The actors just have stockings stretched over theirs faces, similar to the way bank robbers do. It’s phenomenal. I loved it. Nothing beats seeing pudgy, short dudes in spandex marching around pretending to be robots.
The film follows Superargo’s quest to stop the faceless giant army. He eventually builds an electrical burst gun, the only real way to combat the robots, and he and his faithful companion Kamir engage in battle with the robots and their evil super-scientist leader.
Sure, the film is hokey but that’s what I like about it. It may be derivative as all get out but it takes itself seriously. During the sixties there were so many films made on the topic of super heroics that looked down its nose at the audience. As if to say, any human who would want to make the world a better place is insane. Case in point, the granddaddy of the genre, The Batman Television series. Every time Batman and Robin get into a jam Batman uses his incredible intellect to get them out of it. However, his intellect is usually the brut of a joke. He usually uses a contraption that he’s prepared before hand. Like Bat-Shark repellant. Which is silly and is demeaning to the idea that a human being could plan for a myriad of possible dangerous situations. It’s this narrative cynicism that drives me up the wall about Batman the Television Series.
Superargo may not be terribly original but it’s sincere, and that’s what I dig about it. The straight forward, balls-to-the-wall aspect of the narrative really gets my juices flowing. And the fact that it has pudgy death-robots and awesome psychic powers is pretty great too.