Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No es wrestling, es LUCHA LIBRE!

Gor Mandra, wonderful host of Draculand, forwarded me a great link today:

The tumblr site is a collection of lucha inspired work, take a gander at a few of the more interesting pictures form his collection, and be sure to head over to Lucha Libre Mexicana, and remember "No es wrestling, es lucha libre!

Huevos enmascarados

The Last Fiesta, lucha style, via skate decks

La Mansión de las 7 Momias

The review of Las Momias de Guanajuato perked my mummy interest, so I decided to move on to La Mansión de las 7 Momias (1977)!


Finding this obscure classic is actually a bit of a chore. I had to find it in a dvd collection of later-era lucha films. The dvd set is called: Los Luchadores Invencibles, it's generally available on iOffer, eBay, and

None of the films in this dvd collection come with subtitles though, but after some fierce Googling, I found a subtitle file for you all. I also did some minor tweaking to the file, there were some misspellings and missing accents in names. I'm sure I didn't catch everything, but I caught a few things that bugged me.
Download here:

If you haven't used an SRT file file before, don't fret. It's pretty simple, with most media players you can drag and drop the SRT onto your media player while the DVD is playing. If Media Player isn't doing it for you, try VLC, it's a free media player.
I'm tempted to make my own subtitles for films that don't have subtitles yet on the internet. This could be valuable for the monoglot lucha fans. Let me know if any films in particular stand out that don't have subtitles available.
Now back to the film! This movie contains three people of note: Blue Demon, Superzan, and Manolín:

The heroes and heroine. Superzan in circus regalia.

Blue Demon is the real star of the film, a veteran to wrestling and battling the cohorts of evil. He's so laid back in these later films, he only wears the mask and street clothes. Gone are the days of capes and lucha tights. I actually like the look, Señor Blue even looks pretty cool with the blue ringer tees and jeans. He's very cool and collective through this picture, obviously ready for anything.

Blue Demon, veteran luchador and appraiser of antique water fountains.
Superzan is the next on the bill. This is my first encounter with the guy, I've been ignoring him for some time.
It's not hard to see why I've been avoiding the guy. I'm not big on flamboyant costumes, and Mil Máscaras is about as far as I go with bizarre outfits. Superzan is just late to the party, and didn't get the memo that this was casual Friday. He looks so out of place, like a Christmas Tree in July. Also, he's so gangly, definitely not lucha material in my book. Perhaps in the older films, Blue Demon and Santo held better screen presence, and that's why they didn't look so ridiculous in cape and tights? They looked classy, and heroic, yet Superzan is just a super-dork.  But to be fair, this film was pretty interesting, even with Superzan.

I'm worried that you're scaring children with that mask.

Lastly, we have Manolín, aka Manuel Palacios Sierra. He was a Mexican comedian, usually billed under the duo "Manolín Shilinsky with Shilinsky Estanislao." He played the idiot, while Shilinksy played the clever character, much like an Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy act. Manolín usually says the line "fíjate qué suave," in his films. The Mansion of the 7 Mummies was the last film he starred in, and later that year he passed away.
Qué suave!

The story for this film is pretty confusing, but the basic gist is that Sofía de la Garza is the descendant of a long line of the reincarnated governor of Antigua, Guatemala, whom previously made a pact with the devil. Now Sofía is the recipient to her father's inheritance, which includes the cursed treasure of the conquistadores. Sofía must now endure three trials to gain the inheritance. But by sheer luck, she has Blue Demon, Superzan, and Manolín helping her along the way.

Conquistador or clown? Also, even if you are undead, you still need a wheelchair.

Grave digger, hunchback, and unsung hero

Why Satan, with all that power, you choose to wear that ugly mug?

I think we'll need more than a haircut to solve his problems

By far, the spookiest scene in the film.


Length: 90 minutes
Year: 1977

Favorite Quote
While the luchadores are driving into Antigua, Guatemala, they slow down so Blue Demon can admire an antique water fountain that appears to have a prostate problem:
Blue Demon: "Mira, que fuente!" - "Look, what a fountain!"
Really Blue? This is what you have to say? At times, the film feels like a travel brochure for Antigua, Guatemala.

The Ratings:
My rating system is out of five stars, and consists of six categories, then an overall score.

  • Story: The story in La Mansion is actually pretty interesting, even though the budget  and effort may not have been the strongest. I really enjoy these lucha stories that involve the history of Latin America, and black magic. The blending of Catholicism, the influence of Spain, and Indigenous America makes for a great backdrop.
  • Bizarre Factor:   This isn't the first time a lucha film stars a comic relief character. I really hate these types of characters, Orko from Masters of The Universe, Snarf from Thundercats, Perico from Tesoro de Dracula. Manolín is certainly an oddball to toss in this film. Superzan also looks more like the menzo than Manolín, in full regalia.
  • Horror: First off, these look closer to a traditional zombie, than a mummy. They also look better than any other undead I've seen in a lucha film yet. They aren't the usual oatmeal + paste makeup job. They actually have rotten heads with nasty teeth, and missing eyes. By far, my favorite scene is the swampy locale where the zombies rise from the depths of the algae thick waters.
  • Action: As per usual lucha film, lots of fighting. Some of the more interesting battles are between the two heroes and ex-buddy Rodrigo. One specific note about this film is that there is not a single filmed lucha match! At the moment where they cut to the arena, Blue has already won the belt! This is pretty odd for a lucha film, I wonder what business was going on behind the scenes that forced the filmmakers to go without?
  • Camp: This film is full of camp. The red Spanish conquistador outfit is outright ridiculous. Satan looks less than sinister, just a graying gentleman with some glued on horns. BTW, did you know you can keep Satan at bay with a cross, much like a vampire? I really hate to harp on Superzan, but he just looks ridiculous in the outfit. Lastly, why are these ancient zombies (excuse me, I mean "mummies") wearing things like modern era button up shirts, slacks, and I believe one of the creatures is even wearing Mr. Roger's cardigan.
  • Nudity: No nudity, or even suggestion of real sex. This film is pretty G rated when it comes to any sort of sexuality.
  • Overall: I started out with low expectations. This film was collected in a dvd pack of poor quality lucha films, but honestly it wasn't too terrible. While the filmmaking and budget weren't exactly that of Titanic, the story was certainly interesting enough. I think this story would be better suited in a graphic novel. Fun Fact: Santo and Blue Demon used to appear in "fotonovelas," which were photographed comic books, with illustrations added for the special effects such as monsters, laser guns, and explosions.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BBC's History of Horror with Mark Gatiss

Last night I had the pleasure of watching BBC's History of Horror with Mark Gatiss. I don't know this Mark Gatiss, but I feel like we have a similar taste in horror. When the camera crept by his dvd collection, it looked like I had all of what was shown on screen. When he discusses horror, he says he likes the ghosts and spooky horror films, especially the older stuff, versus the majority of nonsensical violent films these days. I stand 100% behind this notion.

Mark Gatiss with a really impressive statue of Frankenstein's Monster.
Anyone know where this is located?

This show is broken into three parts, each an hour long. The first part covers the beginning of cinema to the early '50s with a major focus on Universal and RKO classics. The second part takes us through the mid '50s to the '60s, focusing on Hammer Studios. The last part takes us all the way to 1978 with John Carpenter's Halloween (have I mentioned that I once met the actor who played Michael Myers in the first Halloween?).

I too have been to the Bates Motel. Perhaps I should post my old photos!

This is probably the most thorough documentary on horror cinema that I've seen yet. There are a few things missing. I'm surprised they didn't mention the Castle horror films, and only at the end did they barely touch on horror films outside of the UK and the US. Also no mention of Ed Wood. But even without these minor mentions in horror cinema, it was an amazingly in depth documentary. Gatiss travels to various locations from many of these films, we get to see relics of classic horror, and we even get several great interviews with horror icons. This is definitely worth hunting down and watching!

After a quick Wikipedia read, it appears Mr. Gatiss has had his hand in television, radio, and writing. Key notes including writing episodes for Sherlock, Doctor Who, and was also in the series League of Gentlemen. I'll have to watch the episodes of Doctor Who he's worked on again, now that I know he was behind them! 
In relation to horror though, he has two books of note, a James Whale biography, and a book on alien encounters in cinema.

From YouTube, this is what I could find:

Unfortunately, I didn't see this documentary listed on Amazon. If anyone has a link to order an official dvd, let me know! This is definitely something I'd love to watch every October.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Santo en Las Momias de Guanajuato

This is probably my favorite of the films I have seen thus far in the lucha-libre genre–probably due to the Holy Trinity star in this film: Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Máscaras. I also like the fact that in this film (and others) they suggest that Santo comes from a long lineage of Enmascarados de Plata. Imagine Hernán Cortés arriving in México, and seeing a wrestling ring constructed of jungle vine and wood set within an ancient Aztec temple; two tribal brutes duke it out with masks…too bad real lucha history doesn't extend much further than than the early 20th century!

Guanajuato is very beautiful

This isn't a real mummy...

The film is set in the beautiful colonial city of Guanajuato, known for it's bizarre collection of mummies. Pinguino, the midget tour guide, explains to a group of curious visitors: the unique chemical makeup of the earth in Guanajuato only lets the human body break down to a point, then it begins to harden, turning corpses into twisted looking mummies. He goes on to say that one of the mummies is called Satan, and was once a luchador. (He's even still wearing his one-hundred year old tights). It is revealed that this 7' monster had made a pact with the Lord of shadows to return to life to avenge a humiliating loss in the ring against Santo's ancestor. Pinguino remembers that the curse foretells that our villain should return this very day! Well, the curse is true–the lucha mummy and his cohorts set forth causing all sorts of havoc until they find Santo to settle an ancient score.

This is the real museum of the mummies of Guanajuato

And this is what a true mummy of Guanajuato looks like.


Length: 95 minutes
Year: 1971

Favorite Quote
Blue Demon: How about we celebrate our meeting?
Mil Máscaras: That sounds like a great idea! How about I make us some big steaks, and a Roquefort salad, and a Valencian paella, and a nice vegetable soup, and...
Lina (Mil's girlfriend): Remember, you're on a diet!
Mil Máscaras looks down and whimpers in disappointment

The Ratings:
My rating system is out of five stars, and consists of six categories, then an overall score.
  • Story: This is a pretty basic story, like most lucha films. We have the trope of the adopted child (This time Blue Demon has Julio as an adopted son). We have a midget (Pinguino the mummy tour guide). We have monsters (Guanajuato mummies that look more like zombies). I also like how Santo plays as the Deux ex Machina in this film, coming in out of the blue to save the day. I also like that there was only one tag-team wrestling scene in this film. Most of these lucha films have two to three matches that you have to sit through. Depending on whose wrestling, I sometimes watch. Mil is definitely more skilled, and has some impressive movies in the ring in this film.
  • Bizarre Factor:   Honestly, this isn't all that weird compared to others. I do like that the police don't seem to terribly distraught over shooting a mummy disguised as Blue Demon with no effect. They are also pretty chummy with Blue Demon when they apologize for accusing him of the murders without any real clues. Also, the one way to survive a mummy attack is to go to sleep. Lina and Julio always are sleeping, yet Mil and Blue Demon don't seem too afraid they might be eaten or kidnapped by the living dead walking the streets of Guanajuato.
  • Horror: These mummies are pretty cool looking, but not ragged enough for being 100+ years old. I also like the ring leader's droopy eyeball. Too bad they couldn't be a little more rotten, or even hungry for flesh. They were only good for snapping necks. 
  • Action: As per usual lucha film, lots of fights, matches, and throw downs. My favorite scene is when Blue chucks a mummy out of the second story window. I am curious though, are the undead forced to watch Bruce Lee films in the afterlife? I ask because these mummies have only one battle tactic: karate chop. No closed fist punches, no kicks, just hand chops. Not even biting! I guess not all zombies were created equal. 
  • Camp: Oh man are there some plot holes in this film. My favorite plot hole is the scene where the mummies knock out Blue Demon and steal his clothes to impersonate him and cause chaos downtown. For one, how did Blue get home? They don't even mention it, and he never tells anyone what happened. Perhaps he was too ashamed to have been stripped by a 7' mummy? Also, why are these mummies only interested in knocking out the heroes? You'd think they would just feast on them instead. 
  • Nudity: No nudity, or even suggestion of real sex. Well, Pinguino does ask one of the night club girls to stay the night in her room, but that might be 50% because the little guy is scared of the mummy murders. 
  • Overall: This is a really great introduction into the lucha genre of films for anyone. There is only one lucha match to undergo (or fastforward for the weak), the action is pretty quick, not many slow dialogue moments, there are scenes of comedy, and it has all the fun tropes. I would go to this film for new recruits.