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Masked Wrestlers vs Monsters at Republic of Lucha

Republic of Lucha offers Luchador merch, masks & monster movies – screened on the premises

Wrestling may not seem to have much to do with monsters, but horror fans of a certain age will recall the many films in which Mexican masked wrestlers such as El Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Mascaras fought Dracula, Frankenstein, and other supernatural enemies. With their secret identities, these luchadores (as they are known in their native land) came across like superheroes, so the jump from wrestling opponents in the ring to battling monsters on screen was an easy one, and the genre was popular through the 1960s and early 1970s, resulting in such titles as Santo vs. the Vampire WomenBlue Demon vs. Satanic Power, and Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy.

South of the border, the Luchador phenomenon continues to this day, and its spirit is well represented at the Republic of Lucha in South Pasadena. Owned by the wrestling tag team known as the Lucha Brothers (Penta Zero M and Rey Fenix), the venue serves as a merchandise store, exhibition gallery, and event space, totally dedicated to Mexican masked wrestling.

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Through not specifically dedicated to horror, Republic of Lucha feels like a costume store with its racks of glittering capes and display cases of masks, many of which (such as Psycho Clown and Demon Fossil) would suitable for an actor working in a Halloween haunt. According to the store’s website, the masks are individually hand-crafted to the specifications of a luchador, and each one is unique.

Beyond the masks and capes, Republic of Lucha leans heavily into horror with its merchandise. There are blu ray discs for sale (e.g. The Aztec Mummy Collection), along with t-shirts sporting artwork from luchador horror films. In a nice touch of authenticity, the shirts are based on original Spanish-language posters, with titles such as Santo en la Venganza de las mujeres Vampiro and El Vampiro Y El Sexo (a film known in the U.S., in truncated form, as Santo in Dracula’s Treasure).

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With the emphasis on movies, it should be no surprise that there is a Republic of Lucha Movie Club, which screens films from spring through Halloween. Presented in “Lucharama” (actually projected from disc), the current Luchaween edition of the series includes Santo in the Revenge of the Vampire Women on October 15, The Panther Women on October 28, and the unrated original version of Santo in Dracula’s Treasure on October 31 (the latter is adults-only).

Update: Republic of Luchas has announced they are  moving the date of The Panther Women to accommodate a previously unscheduled surprise host who wants to present this film. New date to be announced.

All films are presented with English dubbing. Doors open at 7:30 pm and films start at 8:15pm, except on Halloween Night, which is a combination screening and party launching at 7pm. Tickets to the screenings are $15. Tickets to the Halloween party and screening are $20.

There will also be a Dia De Muertos Altar Festival and Competition on November 5 from 6pm to 9pm. All entries much be related to luchador wrestling. Registration deadline is October 22. Admission is $15.

The Republic of Lucha is located in Unit H at 1020 Mission Street in South Pasadena (practically around the corner from SugarMynt gallery). Business hours are 11am to 7pm Wednesday through Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. Get more information at their website: republicoflucha.com.

Republic of Lucha Photo Gallery

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.