Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trio of Mexican Sci-Fi Films Plus the Ageless Luchador

I made it out to the PFA to see three of the films in their El Futuro Está Aquí: Sci-Fi Classics from Mexico series.

The Ship of Monsters; Spanish with subtitles; (1959)
The Aztec Mummy vs. the Human Robot; Spanish with subtitles; (1957)
Santo vs. the Martian Invasion; Spanish with subtitles; (1966)

I wonder if "classics" is the right word. These are classics on par with Plan 9 from Outer Space or some lesser known films featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In other words, the films are so bad they're good.

The Ship of Monsters features Venuvian (Venusian?) women who have come to Earth to repopulate their planet by kidnapping men for stud. Santo vs. the Martian Invasion, on the other hand, features Martians who have come to Earth to put a stop to reckless atomic testing even if it means exterminating the human race. There was consistency though; the women of Venus and Mars exclusively wore bathing suits and/or hot pants. Inexplicably, one of the women from Venus was also a vampire. Santo, for the uninitiated, was a popular masked wrestler of the time. In the film, he saved humanity by applying ferocious armbars and relentless leglocks on numerous Martian foes.

The Aztec Mummy vs. the Human Robot - the title pretty much sums up the story although somewhere there was a villain with the decidedly Germanic surname Krupp whose secret identity was "The Bat" and a sidekick named Pinacate which is a dung beetle.

The Bat (left, facing away) and the Human Robot in The Aztec Mummy vs. the Human RobotBasically, this series proved that Mexican filmmakers could make cheap schlock as well as their American counterparts. The "invaders from space" phenomena was big in the 1950/1960's, C-film market, north of the border but the Mexicans took the sci-fi and horror genres in different directions - masked wrestlers, Aztec mummies (I didn't even know the Aztecs mummified their dead), singing vaqueros, etc.

It was all quite silly and not quite worth two trips to Berkeley but I can't say I didn't enjoy myself. Did I mention the women were scantliy clad? Actually, it was interesting to see some voluptuous actresses that could never get a bathing suit scene in today's films. We're a long way from what was considered sexy in the 50s and 60s.


Speaking of Mexican Sci-Fi films, Hole in the Head (in conjuction with Thrillville) is presenting Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy and Academy of Doom on July 22. Those films were made in the past few years and are English language. Mascaras stars in both films. The Man of a Thousand Masks was a big time wrestlers as far back as the mid-1970's. According to IMDB, Mascaras' first film credit was in 1968. That was 40 years ago and he's still wearing the mask?

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