Archive for the Rene Cardona Category
1963/Director: Rene Cardona/Writer: Alfredo Salazar
Also Known As: Rock ‘N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape, Sex Monster, I Tigris Tou Catch
Doctor of Doom (Las Luchadoras vs el Medico Asesino/The Wrestling Women vs. the Murderous Doctor) was one of six lachaodra (wrestling women) films produced by Guillermo Calderon that were directed by Rene Cardona and written by Alfredo Salazar. The last two films, Las Luchadoras vs. el Robot Asesino and El Horripilante Bestia Humana (both from 1968) were loose remakes of Doctor of Doom. El Horripilante Bestia Humana is also known as Night of the Bloody Apes and was reviewed only a few posts ago here at the Cafe. Of the six films three would be translated into English by the legendary K. Gordon Murray, those being Doctor of Doom, Night of the Bloody Apes and the second of this post’s double feature Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy.
Lately I have managed to get my little hands on quite a few Mexican horror films and a small number of luchalibre (wrestling) films with Santos (or Samson as his name is translated by K. Gordon Murray and crew) and have to admit that for the most part these are all entertaining little films. I think about a 3rd of the films though are not subtitled or dubbed and that can be a hassle for me. While I can watch a film in another language and get some pleasure from it I really cannot review or the film or comment on it. At the most I could get some screen captures and promote the film that way but how can I comment on a story that I really do not understand except on a most basic level. I will say, as I have said before, that these films do not suffer from being dubbed into English unless you are a purist. I find the dubbing to be fun really and all the colloquial errors only add to the enjoyment.
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Like Night of the Bloody Apes, Doctor of Doom follows the demented misadventures of a mad doctor who feels the need to transplant the brains of apes into the body of human beings. Unlike NOTBA Doctor of Doom never really tries to explain why the doctor is doing this. He is trying to create a super race I believe but over all explanations are avoided. The identity of the doctor is kept secret for most of the film though he is supported by some secret cabal who want him to succeed in his experiments. The identity is not really hard to guess if you watch lots of these styles of films, you just focus on the non-lead character who seems to be the most unlikely person to be the mad scientist and he will be said culprit by the last stretch of the movie. Most prior experiments have all turned out poorly in that the subject has died. The doctor’s current human objects for receiving the ape brain have been women who die off on the operating table. It is not explained why the doctor chooses women when his one living test result, Gomar, was a male. Gomar is now kept in a cage and fed raw meat which seems to keep him happy. One recent victim, Alicia, is the sister of luchadora Gloria Venus (the stunning Lorena Velazquez). Alicia was a scientist herself but she dies on the table and the doctor decided to settle for brawn or brains and sets his sites on a strong luchadora for his next experiment. A group of thugs try to capture Gloria and her partner Golden Rubi (Elizabeth Campbell) while they pretend to be asleep but the gals whoop their tails. Velazquez and Campbell did most of their wrestling stunts but in the fight scenes out of the ring it is obvious that shorter, stockier less ravishing stunt doubles are used. The two gals get acquainted with cops Aramndo and the diminutive Chema (the four would team up again in Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy) played by Armando Silvestre and Chucho Salina respectively. In both DOD and WWvsTAM comic relief is supplied by the romantic attraction between Chema and the Amazon like Golden Rubi.
The mad doctor is the deceptively timid and squeamish Dr. Ruiz (Roberto Canedo) and he is assisted in his schemes by his evil assistant Boris (Jorge Mondragon) who, despite the name, is not European nor is he a hunchback or imbecile. He is just a thug who may or may not believe in what the doctor is doing and could care less so long as he is paid on time. There are quite a few scenes that unintentionally funny. One is when Armando and Chema get stuck in a room with a spiked wall closing in on them on one side and a ferocious Gomar clawing at them on the other. They have enough to call the girls on a Dick Tracy type wrist watch communicator with a homing device built into it. The girls need to drive around the city and track the signal as it gets weaker and stronger and all the while the wall is still closing in on them. They eventually find the place and break in with no problem and then have to have their stunt doubles get into a brawl with the hoods in the hideout while the wall is still closing in on and Gomar is still clawing away. Now to be fair tiny ass Chema as climbed up the wall and is bracing himself between the wall above Gomar’s cage and the wall of daggers and that seems to be enough to stop the wall from moving while the girls ride around town and fight the bad guys.
They rescue the guys with little problem and before the fight is over Dr. Ruiz has a bottle of acid thrown in his face. Despite these set backs he manages to transplant Gomar’s brain into a luchadora and in the process creates the masked wrestling dynamo Vendetta. At this point Ruiz begins to wear a wrestling mask himself and match is set up between Vendetta and Gloria Venus. During the bout in which pretty Gloria begins to get the worse end of things Rubi twists the arm of one of Ruiz’s henchmen and learns what is up and she gets into the ring and Vendetta begins kicking her cute butt too. But soon Vendetta and Ruiz are on the run and climb a nearby water tower, followed by Armando who, not surprisingly, is soon having his finger’s stomped on at the top of the tower. Now say what you will about goofy little Chema when it comes down to it he makes Lee Harvey Oswald look like a boy scout. He grabs a rifle and when two clean shots kills Ruiz and Vendetta. The guys get the girls and the bad guys get snipered off. A genuine happy ending.
As I said Night of the Bloody Apes follows basically the same story line as does Las Luchadoras vs. el Robot Asesino (maybe translated as Wrestling Women vs the Mad Robot, the version I have is not subbed or dubbed) but DOD lacks the violence and nudity and rapes that made NOTBA the most infamous of the Calderon, Cardona, Salazar films. Of the two films I think Doctor of Doom is the more enjoyable experience. It is certainly campier and seems to be closer to the Santo type luchilibre films I have grown rather fond of lately.
Cast: Jose Elias Moreno, Carlos Lopez Moctezuma, Armando Silvestre, Norma Lazareno, Agustun Martinez Solares
Before finally getting around to seeing Night of the Bloody Apes (aka La Horripilante bestia humana -The Horrible Man-Beast and Horror y sexo-Horror and Sex- and even as Gomar-The Human Gorilla) I aware of Rene Cardona’s work as the director of genre Mexican Wrestling films. The films are built around the lucha libre culture of Mexico where wrestling is pretty serious business. Usually the wrestlers appear in some sort of mask though not all of the time. Cardona directed some of the better Santos films (redubbed and released in the States as Samson by K. Gordon Murray) and some Wrestling women films. In fact Night of the Bloody Apes is a remake of one of his earlier films Doctor of Doom (Las Luchadoras Contra el Médico Asesino) which is also known as Rock ‘N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape. So if you have not gathered Night of the Bloody Apes is a horror film, but is also a wrestling film and the star wrestlers is the cute and shapely luchadoras (female wrestler) Lucy who wears a bright red devil girl outfit and for some reasons when she appears in the ring looks twenty or thirty pounds heavier.
Before going in the story and film itself I will mention that movie had a period of notoriety for being included on the British Video Nasties List that was an attempt to censor movies deemed obscene and overly violent during the early days of video. I do not know much offhand about the list and what else may have been included on it but ultimately the list did not work very well though I have read I the news recently of public concerns and anger over continued film censorship in Britain and in particular of violent films. I would have to research this more to make a comment on it. As for Night of the Bloody Apes it is certainly strange that the film would attract much attention at all since the violence in the film, and it is certainly violent, is of a campy and often silly variety. As I understand the most violent and sexy scenes where shot and added to the movies almost four years later. I wonder what the movie would look like without these scenes. The gore scenes were put in about the same time the film received its infamous English dubbing that is really not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I like old films like this when they are dubbed actually. I am not such a film purist that I chant “say no to dubs” when those dubs or over a Mexican wrestling adventure or Japanese rubber monster movie. All that being said the film without doubt falls into the cheesy exploitation genre and into the bad movies we love one as well. It is violent and there is some nice nude shots of Lucy the wrestler that are innocent in that sixties sort of way, where naked people sort of just walked around a room. Like seeing Doris Day naked. But there are some rapes and groppings of victims that balance out the girl next door charm of Lucy.
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The film’s story is centered around the extent to which Dr. Krallman will go to in order to keep his leukemia ridden son Julio (pronounced Joo-lee-o in the dubs) alive. And there is little the good doctor will not do, including breaking into a zoo and shooting and orangutan with a tranquilizer gun and then abducting the beast. The campy tone of the film is set early enough when we are treated to shots of a real orangutan in one scene then in the next some extra in a monkey suit who dramatically falls back and plops his feet down like he plopped down on the sofa after a hard day at the office. Why tranquilize a monkey you wonder? Dr. Krallman has determined that the strength of the heart and blood of a wild animal is what is needed to save his son’s perishing life. With the assistance of his gimp legged assistant Goyo (who refers to the Doctor as “master”) they perform the heart transplant not in the most modern hospital in the country or city but in Krallman’s basement. The operation scenes are spliced up with scenes of an actual open heart surgery operation. For some reason I think a fakey looking scene with a rubber heart and bright red blood would have been more effective. The operation seems to be a success for now and so should introduce to the commentary Lucy the lucadora and her cop boyfriend Arthur. As in many of Cardona’s films there is no shortage of reasons to suddenly cut to a wrestling match. Lucy wrestles as a very cute devil girl and Arthur hardly misses a match though he harbors hope that Lucy will soon retire from the mythic magic of the ring and stay home and cook enchiladas and start popping out bambinos for him.
The first fight we are treated to is a study in Christmas themed primary colors as Lucy enters the ring in her bright red costume and pairs off against a gal in a super bright green one. Up to this point I am not sure if Cardona had worked much, if at all, with color and he was going to make the most of it. To be honest the colors and sets in the film are really nice. The person who wrestles as Lucy the devil girl is obviously a double as the actress playing Lucy (Norma Lazareno) has about half of the ass mass as the actual person in the ring. During the match Lucy flings her opponent out of the ring and cause her to suffer a serious skull injury. Lucy is distraught and as the film goes on Arthur really gets annoyed with her concern over the condition of the other wrestler, Ellena who was also a friend, and all but tries to slap her out of it.
Next we are treated to Orangutan kidnapping sequence already mentioned and to the subsequent operation in Dr. Kralleman’s basement. I am not a medical expert but I would assume that in order to perform a successful heart transplant you would need more than a sparsely equipped basement laboratory decorated with animal cages and a limping, sycophant assistant who does appear to have any sort of medical degree. But in most films of this nature that is exactly all the doctor needs, along with nauseating genuine stock footage of open heart surgery. It should be noted here that Dr. Kralleman is is also the physician in charge of Ellena, our wrestling victim and that Lucy still feels horrible and Arthur assures it her it not her fault that Ellena was tossed out of the ring head first and is now in a coma with severe brain damage from which she may never recover.
I will let you know that I am not following the chronology of the story here scene by scene. That would require me to rewatch the film and I do not take notes. I am doing the best I can but to be honest when I watch some of these films I am not actually sure what is happening and why when I actually watch them, much less a few days or week later when I am trying to make logical sense of them for the sake of public education. If I make a mistake please understand and be easy on me. Now after a wrestling match and skull cracking, an orangutan/man in gorilla suit abduction, police conference where we see Arthur in action, medical conference that confirms Julio is dying and gory heart transplant in your standard mad doctor laboratory with crippled/deformed assistant who is indebted to or controlled by the mad doctor in some way we arrive at the scene where we realize the operation sort of worked but there is a glitch: the once handsome Julio has transformed into a huge stunt double with man boobs and an expressionless rubber mask that is still better looking than the dime store gorilla suit that represents his donor. The beast is soon out on the streets murdering anybody that crosses his path, but usually the females get all felt up and have their clothes half ripped off and run around with their boobs hanging out.
We are treated all the while to more wrestling matches with Lucy not being her typical confident, coma inducing self any longer. This allows for some great dressing room (where we see Lucy undressed a few times) dialog with morale boosting Arthur tell her to remount her horse and try again. The wrestling matches in this film are not as long as in some other such films and Lucy simply looks cute in her devil outfit (even if it is not really her). The stunt double here is still better than in some of the scenes from Doctor of Doom where the statuesque Lorena Velázquez (as Gloria Venus) seems to lose height and hair length and gain weight in some of the fight scenes. So what is doctor Krallmen to do now? He can’t have Julio running amok murdering and raping innocent people. He concludes that maybe it was not such a good idea to transplant a monkey heart into a human being after and so now he needs to transplant a human heart back into Julio. Luckily in the hospital there is a suitable candidate: the comatose Ellena. We are treated to great mad doctor explanations and rationalizations as to what went wrong and why is okay to rip out Ellena’s heart and let her die in order to save Julio. We are also treated later to a great medical room conference meeting where Ellena’s disappearance is written off as her sleep walking out of the hospital. All in the room nod that this is the best explanation. But while dad was out abducting the comatose Ellena Julio ripped free of his bounds and tore the boards off of the window and went out on yet another killing spree, this time attacking a couple making out in the park and poopng out the eyeball of some other hapless victim. Dad and Goyo tranquilize Julio and it is back to the operating table where we are treated to breast shots of both Ellena and Julio’s stunt double.
As the movie winds down the confusion and often unintentional laughs pick up in tempo. Now to make clear, Julio as the “bloody ape” has been stalking the city and murdering and raping in a frenzy, targeting he area around the park in particular. Arthur and Lucy have been having some relationship problems as is often the case when one person is a luchadora and the other a police detective. In fact Arthur looks forward to the day Lucy leaves the ring and Lucy is usually in a bad mood because Arthur spends all his time looking for the homicidal maniac that is brutally killing people. How selfish. So while the beast is on the loose yet again after ripping off Goyo’s head Arthur calls Lucy in her dressing room after a match where she is lying on her belly butt naked a little irked. She can’t believe that her man is off again trying to catch that ruthless killer and Arthur hearing the agitation in her voice makes the most ludicrous suggestion I have ever heard. Basically he tells her “why not come on down to the park and hang out with the boys and me.” The same park where girls have been raped and men have had their scalps ripped form their heads only a night or two before by a half human monster that is still on the prowl. Lucy’s reaction? “Really?! I’d love it!” Basically.
The movie wraps up with the monster being corner on a rooftop clutching a little girl he seized earlier amid blaring lights and his father screaming for sympathy as Arthur moves in. Dr. Krallman manages to persuade Julio to let the frightened child go, showing there is still humanity in the beast. A quality which is quickly exploited as the cops blow him to bits once the kid is away. Julio the bloody ape falls but, not from the rooftop as I expected, and in the final moments his face transforms back into the angelic features of poor Julio. In another twist of the formula storyline Dr. Krallman is not killed off by his own “Frankenstein” creation as is usually the case. Arthur and Lucy sit in the car and philosophize over what drove Krallmen to cause so much suffering simply to save his son’s life, concluding in the end that is all “… really sad.” As is usually the case with my movie outlines I am sketchy though spoiler loaded. There is a lot more to this film to amaze you and I actually have plans to post the entire film here in a few ore posts. Certainly one of the more enjoyable “bad movie” offering out there. I like Cardona’s earlier b/w wrestling adventures more and have posts on Doctor of Doom and The Wresting Women vs the Aztec Mummy coming right after this. All good stuff.
AKA: Las Luchadoras contra la Momia
1964/Director: Rene Cardona/Writers: Guillermo Calderon, Alfredo Salazar
Cast: Lorena Velazquez, Armando Silvestre, Elizabeth Campbell, Maria Eugenia San Martain, Chucho Salinas, Ramon Bugarini, Victor Velazquez
This version of Mexican Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy disk is part of a Something Weird video series DVDs that will feature the K. Gordon Murray English dubbed versions of many Mexican Wrestling films. Many will feature, or course, the more familiar names such as Santos (called Samson for some inexplicable reason in the Murray features) and Blue Demon (I am not completely sure if Murray dubbed any Blue Demon films and will check into that) but thankfully others will contain what may be the most enjoyable theme in this sadly over looked little genre: lucadoras, or vivacious Mexican wrestling women. Now I version I have may or may not be the Something Weird Video print but I do not think it is since I have read that the SWV version has some rockabilly music placed over top some of the wrestling scenes. This was done by rockabilly, wrestling and b-movie promoter Johnny Legend and so the title was updated to Rock and Roll Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy. This really makes little sense to me but who I am I to question Johnny Legend. The version I got is from Cinemageddon and seems to be the actual K. Gordon Murray version sans rockabilly insertions.
The film features the four lead characters from Doctor of Doom, Gloria Venus (here called Loretta!) and Golden Rubi (Miss Mexico 1960 Lorena Velequez and American Amazon Elizabeth Campbell) are back as well as actors Armando Silvestre and Chucho Salinas as their suave and bumbling boyfriends respectively. While this is a pretty good movie and in some ways can be seen as a sequel to Doctor of Doom there a couple problems with it that, in my opinion, make it the lesser fare of the two films. One problem is the wrestling matches go on a little two long. These are wrestling movies and so there will be wrestling bouts that are usually handled in a very serious manner. But there just go on a little too long here sometimes. Could have either been trimmed or could have cut to some other scenes to break the monotony. But not a big issue. A bigger problem I had was that the genuinely scary Aztec mummy does not appear on screen until 70 minutes into the film and then does appear that much until the film’s ending. I have always felt the Mexican mummies were far creepier looking than the Hollywood ones and this one is a really freaky looking mummy that can even transform into animals like a bat or tarantula. This is really pretty disappointing and if you watch the film and see how scary this mummy is how and yet also how wasted it was I think you may have the same feeling.
Those complaints aside this Rene Cardona film is a watchable and enjoyable movie, as are most Mexican wrestling films. The story is about a group of archaeologists who have been dying off one by one and one of the last one’s seek the help of the two people most qualified to rescue him: Gloria Venus (I will not call her Loretta) and Golden Rubi, two wrestling champions who are, in the tradition of Santos, also crime fighters and righters of wrong. The archeologists are being targeted by the sinister Black Dragon gang because the leader, Prince Fujiyata, seeks a he believes they have that will lead him to a secret tomb and untold treasures. It so happens that the last surviving member of the team is Dr. Telles and not only does he have the codex but happens to the uncle of Armando (Armando Silvestre), and Armando luckily is Gloria Venus’s boyfriend. What is interesting about Prince Fujiyata is that he is supposed to be Japanese but sports a Fu Manchu style mustache and wears traditional Chinese costumes. Furthermore his two Judo chopping Japanese sisters are named Tzu and Lien which are both Chinese names.
READ MORE BELOW. SHARE IT IF YOU LIKE IT.There are plenty of little antics that takes place while Fujiyata zeros in on the location of the codex. He uses mind control powers to manipulate people, there are a few fight scenes with obvious stunt doubles standing in for Velasquez and the very tall Campbell. There is comic relief provided by the love relationship between Amazon Golden Rubi and the diminutive Chucho Gomez (Chucho Salinas) and of course there is an epic wrestling match between Venus, Rubi and the Japanese/Chinese. There is a well done flash back sequence to the origin of the mummy where we learn why the mummy, Tezozoc (Geraldo Zepeda) was entombed and forced to stand guard for eternity over the treasure chamber.
The final confrontation between the wrestlers and their boyfriends and the mummy is a little weak and I had hoped the mummy would have killed off a few people. That’s way you write characters into the script like assistants or security guards. Again the problem is that the mummy simply appears too late. There are loads of plot gaps but why in the world would you what these films if not for the mistakes and blunders. What is redeeming about some of these films in the end is the earnestness with which they are made. The heroes are larger than life and inspiring in a matinee hero fashion. The girls are sexy and the mummy is scary. Lots of fun if you love Mexican mummies. Am trying to get the rest of Rafael Portilloi’s Aztec Mummy trilogy after seeing this one. I have seen his entertaining Robot vs the Aztec Mummy and a review will be here someday.