Friday, October 03, 2008


One reason I started this blog was to cover the older films that don't get a lot of critical attention: mostly the Hollywood A-films that didn’t become timeless blockbusters and the B-movies that tend to fall through the critical cracks. It's always amazed me that you can find lots of information out there about almost any film in the horror or SF genres, even the bottom of the barrel stuff, yet it can be difficult to dig up any comments at all about an average William Powell movie (except anything with "Thin Man" in its title) or any light comedy that doesn’t fall under the screwball rubric. This film must be one of the worst-made movies ever, and yet a few seconds on Google will turn up reams of material about it. And here I am, adding to that pile. This Mexican monster movie, produced by and starring Abel Salazar, is terrible, but in that campy way that many fans find endearing. In 1661, a devil-worshipping baron (Salazar) is tortured by the Inquisition; when he laughs at the worst they can dish out, he is sentenced to be burned at the stake. In his last minutes of life, just as a comet flies through the sky, he puts a curse on the judges, saying he will return when that comet returns, and take revenge on the judges' descendents. Sure enough, in 1961, when the comet returns, a huge chunk comes loose, lands in the Mexican desert, and transforms itself into a dreadful (and dreadfully cheap looking) monster with a demonic face, ridiculously silly pincher appendages, and a very long and floppy forked tongue. He takes human form to find the descendants by inviting them to a party, then tracks them down and sucks their brains out by plunging his tongue prongs into their necks. Eventually, the police bring him down with flamethrowers just as he's about to kill a Mary Tyler Moore look-alike.

In most ways, this is just as bad as Ed Wood's PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, though it feels more like professionals who persevered despite realizing they had no budget, rather than amateurs pretending to be professionals who are persevering. Though film stills make the monster look scary, he's not. Aside from the droopy tongue, there's the pulsating face (achieved with air being sucked in and out of the mask) and the aimless claws and the flashlight that flicks on and off right beneath the monster's face. The comet effect is a still picture of a comet that barely moves. The sets are threadbare and all the exteriors are shot in front of very bad rear projections. The one moment worth seeing is Salazar eating brains out of a bowl. The DVD from CasaNegra (a company which, sadly, I hear has gone out of business) is in lovely condition and even has an audio commentary which, despite being given by a dyed-in-the-wool Brainiac fanatic, gets tedious fairly quickly. Don't bother. [DVD]

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