Bill’s Bizarre Bijou
William D. Carl
This week’s feature presentation:
DOCTOR OF DOOM (1963)
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 strikes again! The infamous importer of Mexican kiddie matinees has delivered another badly dubbed (at Soundlab! In Coral Gables, Florida!) arrow to my heart with a film I love beyond any reasonable credulity. It’s truly awful, but in all the right ways. I should turn away in horror at this vivisection of artistic film, this shadow of celluloid, but I can’t take my eyes off the terrible thing. It goes beyond bad cinema to become one of the most entertaining stinkers of all time. Yes, I’m talking about that “gorgeous ladies of wrestling versus the mad scientist south of the border” opus, DOCTOR OF DOOM (1963), aka ROCK ‘N ROLL WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC APE, aka THE SEX MONSTER!
The amazing movie begins with a pre-credits attack on a woman by what looks like Captain Caveman, followed by two rather burly gals wrestling in a ring and stock footage of an enthralled, applauding audience. Gloria Venus, the winner, has a moment with her sister, Alice. Then we’re suddenly in a mad scientist’s laboratory, where an obviously mad scientist tries to perform a brain transplant on the girl who was kidnapped by the hirsute horror, whose name is Gomar. The operation is a failure, because the brain they transplanted wasn’t strong enough. The doc believes this is because they’ve only used women with low IQs, and they need to find an intellectual woman with a stronger brain. The mad doctor keeps Gomar locked in a basement. Gomar is a man with a transplanted gorilla’s brain, a perfect half man / half beast, his animal instincts dominating the human in their the symbiotic relationship. Yes, one day, Gomar will turn into a real gorilla.
The next morning, the papers proclaim “Mad Scientist Strikes Again!” Alice works in a scientific laboratory, with a Professor Ruiz who really, really likes her. Two detectives are on the case of the Mad Scientist Murders, discovering the fourth female with her brain scooped out of her skull. The short one is intended to provide the dubious comic relief. Really, the flick is funny enough without his shenanigans.
Next, we are in a room where two men wear strange white masks that resemble KKK hoods. One of them, the mad scientist, instructs a room full of crooks to go with Gomar and his nifty new bullet-proof mask and shirt, and kidnap a smart woman….and it’s ALICE! Sure enough, she’s easily hijacked, shoved in a cab, and Gomar has a long fight with patrolling officers before escaping.
Back in the lab, the masked surgeons operate on Alice and, even though she’s an intelligent woman, she also dies on the slab. “Isn’t there any human being who can survive the shock?” the mad doctor asks. His partner suggests an athlete, a powerful woman . . . like a lady wrestler?
The taller detective goes to the lady wrestler training gym. He asks Gloria Venus (who is in training) to accompany him.
“It’s your sister,” he says.
“Is she sick?” she asks.
“She’s suffered a very bad accident.”
“Alice is hurt?”
“Would you accompany me?”
“To the doctor’s?”
“To identify her.”
Yes, the dialogue is certainly on par with that of Robert Altman.
Alice’s boss, the scientist (a scientist . . . hmm. . . ) mourns the girl, offering his services if the police need any help. Gloria Venus is understandably upset, but the detective tells her, “You must trust in the local police. Although, we haven’t got a single clue.” Yeah, I’d trust them with that kind of confident revelation.
Back in the training gym, Gloria Venus gets a new partner, Golden Rubi, when a fight breaks out amongst the lady wrestlers. Both women have that glamorous 1960s look, and they look nothing like any real female wrestlers. Gloria Venus is a dead ringer for Elizabeth Taylor and Rubi resembles a ponytailed Marie Windsor. They decide to shack up in an apartment together (now that’s more like the lady wrestler’s I’ve seen in the past) and they win their first tag team match together soon afterwards. The detectives are in the audience to watch the match, falling for the two women in the process. This match goes on for a good five minutes, and the choreography is pretty good, actually. It ends happily, with dinner and dancing between the foursome!
Later that night, the girls awaken to discover several kidnappers climbing in their apartment window, and they proceed to beat the hell out of them! This disappoints the hooded mad scientist. The cops recommend they allow themselves to be kidnapped if these men try it again (What? What? What?). The cops will follow them and arrest the bad guys.
Later, after the women work out, Gomar stalks the two girls in his bullet-proof duds, and he easily overcomes them and places them in the crooks’ car. The detectives follow, but they set off ‘the danger signal’ at the lab. They are assaulted by the criminals, but they fight back. Gloria Venus awakens on the slab, and she gets Rubi and they join in the fighting. They unmask one of the white hooded scientists and discover it is Boris, the assistant to Alice’s boss, the professor. Boris demands police protection. They want to know who the main mad doctor is. He stand, says, “The mad doctor is… is… argh!” He has a heart attack! During the autopsy, they find a needle in his skin covered in poison. It was murder, and it was the killer was someone in the policeman’s office at the time!
The chief mad doctor (still at large and still disguised under a hood) orders his number one crook to find three or four other bad guys and kill those two detectives. The guys give the wrestling gals watches that have transmitters and locators in them. Within twenty four hours, the two detectives are kidnapped, and the girls are going to have to locate and rescue them! Feminism thrives in low-budget Mexican horror films!
The boys are taken “to the death chamber,” locked in a room near Gomar. Suddenly, the walls grow spikes and start contracting towards each other. Soon, they’ll be speared and squished, but they turn on their transmitters, and the gals drive the streets of Mexico City until they find them at the same warehouse/laboratory where they were nearly brain-transplanted. They break in and are immediately attacked by teams of bad guys in black, wearing black hoods. Let the brawling begin! They save the day just in time.
The detectives chase after the mad doctor while the girls attack his new assistant, splashing acid all over his hooded face and setting the place on fire. They leave the mad doctor to burn to death (not very sportsmanlike, but, hey, he tried to take out their brains), but Gomar breaks loose and saves his creator from the inferno.
Later, the girls find out one of their fellow lady wrestlers has been missing for several days, taken by the professor, Alice’s boss, who is the remaining mad doctor. Well, duh, who else could it have been?. Sure enough, she’s been kidnapped by the crazed quack, and he has transplanted Gomar’s brain into the woman’s head. “She’s alive! She made it!” He names her Vendetta, and he commands her to destroy Gloria Venus and Golden Rubi in the wrestling ring in front of thousands of spectators, wearing a nifty cape, Spandex leotards, and a cool lightning mask. Hahahahahahahahaha!
Who will win the match? Will Alice’s death be avenged? Well, this is a family film. What do you think?
The movie is capably directed by that Mexican auteur Rene Cardona, who supplied the world with Taco-Trash flicks for decades. He made such inspired exploitation films as SANTA CLAUS (1959), NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (1969), the soccer players-turned-cannibal epic SURVIVE! (1976), and numerous Santo masked wrestler flicks. Interestingly, his son Rene Cardona Jr. has continued the exploitation tradition, upholding his family name with such hits as GUYANA, CULT OF THE DAMNED (1979), TINTORERA: KILLER SHARK (1977), BEAKS:THE MOVIE (as opposed to BEAKS: THE STAGE MUSICAL? 1987), and the ultra-trashy CYCLONE (1978). Ah, the grindhouse family tradition continues. It almost brings a tear to one’s eyes.
The wrestling women are quite beautiful. Gloria Venus is played by Lorena Velazquez, who is still working today in Mexican soap operas. She’s much better than the material here, although the dubbing makes nearly everything she says amusing. She can also be seen in PLANET OF THE FEMALE INVADERS (1967), SANTO VS. THE ZOMBIES (1962), and the great SHIP OF MONSTERS (1960). Golden Rubi is played by American Elizabeth Campbell, who co-starred with Velazquez in several Luchadoras (female wrestler) movies in Mexico before dropping out of sight and returning to America.
DOCTOR OF DOOM is an insane movie, full of campy dialogue and wrestling women thrashing the crap out of each other. It has bumbling cops and robbers, brain transplants, pretty women in short nightgowns, great jazzy bongo-filled music, tacky comic relief, a finale atop a water tower with police shooting at Vendetta, and Gomar the ape-man. Honestly, what else do you need in a cheap movie? A lot happens in only 80 minutes, so there’s never a boring second.
Plus, there’s a sequel, THE WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1964)!
I give DOCTOR OF DOOM three half-nelsons out of four.
© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl