Tuesday, March 04, 2008

IT SEEMS TO BE MY WEEK FOR DISAPPOINTMENTS. I recently received a DVD set of Mexican horror films I pre-ordered called CRYPT OF TERROR: HORROR FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER VOL. 2. The major disappointment occurred when one of the movies listed in the DVD's description (Masterworks of Terror) turned out not to be included at all. This 1960 Mexican anthology of Edgar Allan Poe stories (original title "Obras maestras del terror") was one of two reasons I bought the set (the other the inclusion of the seldom-seen 1962 "SPIRITISM" (aka ESPIRITISMO). Don't worry, I've already emailed the company from which I pre-ordered the DVD and made my feelings known.
So what about the films which are actually ON the DVD. Well, as I said, they are all grade-Z low budget Mexican horror films which were dubbed into English and shown around the States by K. Gordon Murray. Two of the films in the set "DOCTOR OF DOOM aka WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC APE" and "WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY" I already owned in superior undubbed DVDs from Something Weird Video so I will refrain from discussing them until a later date. Suffice it to say they are classics. The first film in the set is the 1969 stinker NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES which, believe it or not, appears to be a remake of DOCTOR OF DOOM. Frankly, I'll stick with the original. NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES I found to be very unpleasant. Not because of the gore (which it has in abundance) but because it's simply not entertaining. It starts off promisingly with a red clad female wrestler but quickly slides downhill. Extremely dull passages are punctuated by extremely unimaginative (actual open heart surgery footage is used . . . TWICE) and the gore is done in a very primitive Hershell Gordon Lewis-like manner which not only looks extremely grotty but bores me to tears. There's nothing more boring (and unimaginative) to me than gore for it's own sake. Yawn. There is also more than one occasion of naked female pulchritude -- but just as it gets your attention it is promptly spoiled by more inept gore. The "ape man" makeup is passable, I suppose (although one source I've read labelled it "Turd Man"). You don't really want a plot, do you?!? Well, mad scientist transplants an ape's heart into his son's chest. Son turns into an "ape creature" and de-clothes and then butchers women. Not much else going on here. All in all this film I give a miss.
Second film in the set is CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE. This is a step up from the last film (but what wouldn't be a step up?). Some not-so-ethical archeologists steal a voodoo idol from a tomb and all of them (and their families) are cursed by a voodoo medicine man who sicks Billy Barty-sized voodoo dolls after them to kill them. The "voodoo doll faces" are actually quite creepy in scenes and all in all this film is enjoyable to watch. There are scenes of a group of people sitting around talking (these scenes appear in ALL of these films, apparently) but -- while the ones in NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES were just dull at least the rest hold one's interest most of the time. The film itself plays as very dreamlike (or nightmarish) and I can see this one giving tots bad dreams for a week. Not a bad film.
The third film is my favourite in the set: SPIRITISM. This film is very odd and I can see most people disliking it because it is VERY talky and often comes off like a lecture. In fact, while watching some scenes I thought to myself that this could have been a recruitment film for the spiritualism movement of the 19th century. Basically a group of friends fiddle around with a seance and find out the things they mock should be taken more seriously. A middle aged couple is warned that their lives will take a turn for the worse on their anniversary. Bingo! Their (unlikeable) son cajoles them into mortgaging their house to pay for his get rich quick scheme. Naturally, the scheme fails and the house if threatened with foreclosure. The mother abandons Christianity and embraces Spiritualism in hopes of extricating them from this predicament. While 2/3rds of the film plays out as talky scenes punctuated by occasional ghostly appearances and seances, the final third suddenly turns into a retelling of "The Monkey's Paw". I don't know whether I was in a particularly forgiving or receptive mood (which I doubt since I had just watched NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES) but I found myself liking this movie despite its extreme talkiness. I think the performances helped a lot (even though they suffer from the usual hamfisted English dubbing): the harried parents are played particularly well. This (and to a lesser extent CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE) are the two movies in this collection I will probably revisit.
The fourth film in the set (and the last to be discussed here) is THE NEW INVISIBLE MAN and believe me, the film is as unpromising as the title suggests. Basically a Mexican retelling of Universal's equally dull THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS, this film features all the usual Invisible Man special effects; only done with MUCH less skill than John Fulton at Universal. The Invisible Man is falsely accused of murder and runs around for the length of the film trying to clear himself. There's really nothing much to recommend this film other than to say it's at least not as unpleasant as NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES! So, can I recommend this DVD set? Weeeeeeellllllllllllll. . .with a couple MAJOR caveats including the absence of the MASTERWORKS OF TERROR film and the execrable nature of NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (which some people admittedly find watchable). The recommendation of course goes up if you do not already own DOCTOR OF DOOM and WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY. However, as I said, I would much prefer you got the Something Weird DVD version of those two films (on the same DVD, by the way). But 6 films for a fairly reasonable price would lead me to giving it an extremely mild recommendation.

6 comments:

Cheekies said...

yeah yeah yeah ... when you gonna do your field of 64 Dc super villians?

Cerpts said...

Never said I would!

Cerpts said...

The only thing I mentioned was a field of 64 Marvel Super heroes.

Cerpts said...

But am I gonna have to do the DC villains just to shut yo mouth up?!?!?!?!

Cheekies said...

Maybe ... u don't haffa

Cerpts said...

ok here goes. . .

all the supervillains fight ambush bug and he beats em all. there that was easy; what's takin' YOU so long????