Archive for the Mexican Horror Category

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou Watches WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1964)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1960s Horror, 2013, B-Movies, Bad Acting, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Campy Movies, Detectives, Evil Doctors!, Just Plain Fun, Mexican Horror, Mummies, Secret Codes, William Carl Articles, Wrestlers with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2013 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1964)

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Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

K. Gordon Murray imported a second Luchadoras (Lady Wrestler) movie directed by Rene Cordona one year after the initial series entry, DOCTOR OF DOOM (1963).  Once again, kiddie matinee audiences were treated to the adventures of a tag team of female wrestlers—Mexican Gloria Venus and the American Golden Rub—against an assortment of hissable villains and monsters.  They are once again played, respectively, by Lorena Velazquez and Elizabeth Campbell, each looking as gorgeous as in the first movie.  Their boyfriends, the pair of bumbling Mexican detectives, are also back as the WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (aka ROCK ‘N ROLL WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY) flutters across our disbelieving eyeballs.  My goodness, but this one is even weirder and crazier than the first.  And that’s sayin‘ something!  On to the story!

Oh!  According to the credits, the cast includes the Milagros India Ballet!

We start off with a bang, as a bloody man is tossed onto a city street from a speeding car.  The headlines shout (in Spanish) “Black Dragon Gang Kills Archeologist!”  A second body is tossed from a car, this time in the desert.  “Black Dragon Strikes Again!  Dr. Van Dyne Disappears!”  Yet another scientist is tortured by a Fu Manchu/Yellow Menace-type.  Another scientist is chased from his home by a carful of thugs.  He drives to the coliseum where a wrestling match is taking place between two tag-teams, Gloria Venus and Golden Rubi (whose hair has turned brunette since last time!) and two rather butch, um, ladies.  If the wrestling footage looks familiar, it’s because it was lifted from the first movie.  The wrestling gals are cheered on by their detective boyfriends in the audience.  We aren’t even five minutes into the feature, folks.

The girls go to their dressing room and discover a man lurking in the shadows, Dr. Mike Sorba, who wants to talk to Mike the Detective, Gloria Venus’s fiancé.  He informs the detective that the Black Dragon is making threats against him and the detective’s uncle.  The older scientists have discovered something, and the Black Dragon is killing and torturing all the scientists who have a certain codex.  Now, only Dr. Sorba and the uncle remain.  Well, until Sorba is suddenly killed in the locker room by a poison dart.

The mysterious Black Dragon.

The mysterious Black Dragon.

The thugs head back to Fu Man…I mean…the Black Dragon and his evil sisters.  He tells his henchmen to go after the last scientist remaining, Detective Mike’s Uncle, Dr. Tracey (from THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO?).

The group, two detectives and two lady wrestlers, drive to the uncle’s house, where Dr. Tracey tells his nephew about the codex.  The Black Dragon has half and Uncle Tracey decides to give the two wrestlers and his nephew each a third of the half he has.  A pretty blond girl has become Dr. Tracey’s ward, Charlotte.  Within minutes, Charlotte is kidnapped by hoodlums while Dr. Tracey sneaks off to get his half of the codex.

Dr. Tracey digs the codex from between bricks in an abandoned house and splits it into thirds as planned.  He disburses them in the girls’ lockers and a post office box.  Meanwhile, The Black Dragon uses a flashy machine and injections to brainwash Charlotte to hate the ones she once loved, and she’ll do exactly as he orders.  His sisters are impressed (although one speaks with a Natasha Badinov Russian accent; who knows why?).  Under the Black Dragon’s influence, Charlotte returns to the scientist’s house.  First, the foursome split up, following clues to find the thirds of the codex.

So far, no one has explained the what or why of the codex.  Everyone just wants it badly.  And the Black Dragon has bugged the house, so he has sent his thugs to intercept the heroes before they find the hiding places.  Golden Rubi and her boyfriend are captured. Luckily, Gloria Venus and her detective follow and everybody brawls.  The thugs get away with that part of the codex.  The Black Dragon decides to set his judo-expert sisters against the two wrestling broads.

All sorts of shenanigans occur until our heroes have one part of the codex and the Black Dragon has all the rest.  Black Dragon bets all his parts against the one in a tag-team match between his sisters and our gal wrasslers, and it’ll be held in public in the coliseum.  Seems a lot easier than just calling the police and arresting the gang.  Yeah, right…

They must have waited a few days and advertised, because the place is packed for the judo vs. wrestling match.  I swear, during the crowd noises, I heard someone shout, “Andelay!  Andelay!”  And we get the pleasure of watching four women in tight clothing beat the crap out of each other for a good eight minutes.  Hey, there are certainly worse ways to spend eight minutes.

Of course, Gloria Venus and Golden Rubi win the match.  The Black Dragon gives away the codex (well, he’s a bad guy with honor, don’t ya’ know), and just as he was going to be arrested, his sisters judo chop their way through the cops and break him loose.  The Dragon hatches a plan to follow the good guys to wherever the codex leads them and get…whatever the hell is the goal.  Coherency isn’t given a second glance in this flick.

Our heroines snap into action.

Our heroines snap into action.

The codex leads the group (and The Black Dragon and his henchmen) to Tezomoc’s Burial Ground, a witch doctor who can change his shape, just like the moldy mummy in DEATH CURSE OF TARTU (1966).  As the professor reads the translated codex, we get to watch a flashback to Aztec times that shows a maiden who was to be sacrificed to the gods and the witch doctor who saved her by carrying her away.  The lovers were found and returned to the temple where the man, Tezomoc, was buried alive and required to maintain a vigil over his lover’s burial ground and the gold breastplate placed over her chest.  And, yeah, the tomb is cursed if the breastplate leaves the grounds.

The tomb is easy to find (did no one ever spot the ninety foot pyramid above it?), and the group fumbles around in the dark for what seems like three and a half hours.  Finally, they find the temple.  As they are about to read the breastplate, a tomb opens and Tezomoc pops out like a dusty Kate Moss.  It’s extremely skinny, bony, and hideous.  Bullets can’t stop it, and it moans, stretching its mouth open so wide it looks like its cheeks could split.  It also turns into a bat, which is really hard to wrestle.  “Look, Loretta, he’s a vampire now!”  Who’s Loretta?

Will our heroes translate the breastplate and send the mummy back to the land of the dead?  Or will the Black Dragon and his minions find it first and get the treasure?  Is there ever any doubt?

K. Gordon Murray’s dubbing techniques for his Mexican imports lend a tone of the surreal to the proceedings.  Being one of the first to dub movies into English from another language, he hired a sound technician from Disney, Manny Fernandez and a bilingual writer, Ruby Guberman, to change the words coming out of the characters mouths.  Instead of trying to make a literal translation, the team attempted to match the lip movements as closely as possible, which resulted in pretty good synchronization, but truly bizarre phrasings.  An example from tonight’s film: “Now, just as the Dragon heard this, and what motives he has have yet to be explained, he hunted down all the others and he tortured them without pity to get them to reveal who had been designated to guard the records.”  Whew!  What a mouthful.

WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY isn’t as much fun as its predecessor, DOCTOR OF DOOM.  We don’t even get to the Aztec Mummy until the seventy minute mark, and then, despite the title, the mummy is on the side of good.  The pacing is all over the place, too.  Sometimes, this movie flies by at a lightning pace, and at other times the characters get so bored they stop all forward plot motion and play cards.  I am not kidding.  And where in the world was the Milagros India Ballet?

Beware Tezomoc, the AZTEC MUMMY!

Beware Tezomoc, the AZTEC MUMMY!

Still, we get lots of wrestling, beautiful women, fun gadgets, the Yellow Menace, judo-chopping twin sisters with different accents, crummy dubbing, and a creepy mummy.  It’s still worth a gander, even if it doesn’t rise to the heights of silliness of the first movie.

I give WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY two and a half breastplates out of four.

© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl

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Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS (1957)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, 50s Horror, B-Movies, Bad Acting, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Mexican Horror, Monsters, Sea Creatures, Swamp Movies with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2012 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This Week’s Feature Presentation:

SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS (1957)

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes!

We go south of the border this week for our swamp picture to complete my trilogy of swampy summer goodness. And oh boy, is this a weird one. THE SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS – 1957 (the final plurality of the monster(s) is almost covered up by the right edge of the screen, but everything I can find on this lost treasure is the singular SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTER), is a Mexican import from kiddie matinee guru K. Gordon Murray, who bought these things on the cheap and dubbed them on the cheaper. Murray specialized in Mexican horror movies and oddities, unleashing brain-numbing madness onto the innocent minds of Eisenhower Saturday matinee movie-goers. He brought us such wonders as THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1958), SCANDAL IN FAIRYLAND (1957), and, of course, the unbelievable SANTA CLAUS (1959) where little children team up with Santa to kill Satan and his demons!  Oh the Christmas joy!  Well, Murray also dubbed and distributed THE SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTER aka THE SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS aka THE SWAMP OF LOST SOULS.

The credits, scrolled over a picture of skulls and ghosts, proudly announce that the film stars Gaston Santos and his horse ‘Moonlight’. In real life, Gaston Santos was a renowned bullfighter, who often challenged his bulls on horseback. He was also a hack actor in several Mexican cheapies such as THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M (1959) and THE LIVING COFFIN (1959). When you’re shown up by your own second billed horse, you know you just aren’t made for the movies.

The story starts with a funeral, in which a coffin is rowed across a lake (or maybe the swamp?) to a shore riddled with weeping women in black (actually a very striking image). The widow, Maria, demands a glimpse of her dead husband, and the coffin lid is raised, even though the men rowing the boat inform her he was “killed by the beast.”  Then, one of them turns around and says he may have died from some disease. Still, the widow accompanies the men across the lake, riding atop the coffin, to bury her late hubby. Her son arrives, a dashing young man on horseback, who also demands to see the corpse. When the casket is opened, the body has disappeared. Cue many furious signs of the crosses and ‘Santa Marias!’

That evening, a very sad, grade-Z CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON knock-off stalks the  grounds of Maria’s mansion. This monster is hilarious, with an oversized fish head, nearly invisible scuba gear on its back, and googly eyes. This ‘lost monster’ should’ve stayed lost; it’s really that pathetic.

Move over all you other sea monsters! The Lost Monster is in town!

The pallbearers (rowboat bearers?) are plotting something, even as Maria’s niece, the manly Julieta, tries to comfort her with their faithful servant Carmela. The dashing nephew makes a dash for the next ranch, where Gaston Santos, rancher and private detective (!) is amusing everyone with Moonlight, his amazing dancing horse. Yes, the horse does actually dance, and it’s cute, but only until the nephew drops dead at his feet, muttering something about cholera and a monster that attacked him. Well, Gaston just has to see what this is all about, so he rides along with his comedy-relief side-kick Squirrel Eyes, who’s like a Mexican Pinky Lee, lisping and singing like Al Jolson. Squirrel Eyes is attacked by the monster after he falls into the swamp because he stood up in a canoe. The whole time we are underwater with the creature, we can still hear the birds in the trees above Squirrel Eyes, who escapes the creature, who, for an aquatic beast, isn’t very fast in the water. Must be all that bulky scuba equipment strapped to its back or the baggy orange rubber costume. Squirrel Eyes must be truly terrified, because he keeps calling the monster a ‘Martian.’  Someone takes a pot shot at Squirrel Eyes but hits Gaston, who takes off after the villain in the slowest chase scene ever.

The manly Julieta is sweet on Gaston Santos!

Gaston goes to the doctor and gets bandaged up, and we see he’s certainly a strapping young man!  He’s very muscular and handsome for the time. Anyway, he goes on to Maria’s mansion, where he starts investigating the mystery of the disappearing corpse and the gruesome gill man. Little does he know, the doctor who bandaged him has a wireless Morse Code set in his desk and he alerts someone…to something.

Several gauchos have fun throwing stuff at a wall, but their boss tells them no more games. Gaston gets into a bar brawl in town, but after he whips everyone’s butts, the boss of the ranch at the mansion arrives to take him to the widow’s house. He impresses Julieta with his suave dancing horse skills, and the girl smiles at him, exhibiting no sexual chemistry whatsoever. The actress who plays Julieta is a strange-looking woman with the face of Michael Jackson in his whitest years and a Loretta Young wig. It turns out her uncle had an insurance policy that benefits his brother, not the widow. And the bank may take her house soon!

Squirrel Eyes goes fishing and catches the body of the gravedigger. “Aye Chihuahua!”   Carmela finds out the widow Maria has second sight, and she sees that someone is going to try and kill her. She also has another secret—she’s gone blind, and she’s been fooling the villagers for months. Now, she can’t see anything, but she feels better with a gun in her hand. I’m pretty sure everyone else in the house isn’t quite so comfortable having a blind old lady with a revolver bumping into walls and shooting whenever she hears someone getting close!

The creature stalks up on the two lovebird wannabes and the monster fires a spear gun at them!  Monsters have lousy aim, however, as it misses them completely and nearly wings Squirrel Eyes (oh please let him die, please!). There’s a bit of a chase, and Gaston strips down to a red Speedo, dives into the water, and wrestles with the rubbery critter for several minutes while his obviously rubber knife wobbles and wiggles in the water. A fiesta takes place nearby…complete with a whole slew of dancing horses and firecrackers. The monster gets away, but it uses the Morse Code machine to send a message. To whom?  Some fan mail from some flounders?

Obviously, this monster is no monster!  But who is it?  Will Maria be ruined by the insurance scheme?  Will Gaston solve the mystery of the disappearing body?  Will we ever discover why he’s wearing red Speedo swim trunks under his white cowboy outfit?  Will Moonlight ever get a dancing partner?  After a weird comedic Keystone Kops-style fight with clumsily staged slapstick and another fight between the creature and Gaston (who beats the crap out of the poor beastie with a two by four), we discover all the answers.

Gaston beats the crap out of the “Monster.”

And by the way, there’s only one monster, so why is this THE SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS?  And the single monster was never even lost!  This is what happens when the smartest character in the movie is the horse.

THE SWAMP OF LOST MONSTERS is a really bad movie, but somehow, the cinematography is quite good in many scenes, evoking shadowy sets and eerie swamp sets. Someone behind the camera had some talent – cinematographer Raul Martinez Solares, who also shot NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (1969), THE RIVER AND DEATH (1955), and numerous Mexican Lucha films starring Santo. It’s too bad it didn’t trickle down to the screenwriter, the actors, the dubbing specialists, or the director. Still, this is the kind of bad movie that’s a lot of fun, despite its lousiness. Where else are you going to get cowboys, Mexican Catholic funerals, a zipper-backed monster, fiestas, scary heroines that resemble drag queens, dancing horses, handsome, hunky heroes in Speedos, hilarious Mexican stereotypes, insurance scams, an ending right out of Scooby Doo, and more people conversing in Morse Code than two dozen boy scout troops?  With some buddies and a few dozen margaritas, this becomes a real treat for fright fans.

I give THE SWAMP OF LOST MONSTERS two and a half ‘Aye Chihuahuas!’ out of four.

-END-

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl