Thursday, November 5, 2009

El Robo De Las Momias De Guanajuato (1972)

The evil occultist Count Cagliostro (Tito Novaro, who also directed the film) and the mad scientist Dr. Raymond (I think that's his name) have finally enough of always getting beaten by masked wrestlers, so they decide to team up and combine mad science and the science of witchcraft in their quest for world domination. Disappointingly, they don't think of a fitting teamname for themselves - personally, I would have gone with "The Dynamic Duo - of EVIL".

First up on their agenda is mining an element "stronger" than Uranium that can only be found in a deserted silver mine. Unfortunately, mining radioactive ores isn't all that healthy and the scientist's hired midget help would probably just run off. What are two evil men to do? The obvious, of course, which is to say, use an Egyptian rite to revive some of the famous and much beloved mummies of Guanajuato and let them do the work!

They would probably even get away with this blatant case of mummy exploitation, if not for a shoeshine boy (Julio Cesar Agrasanchez, most definitely related to the producers) witnessing the mummy robbery. While the authorities don't believe a single word he tells them about walking mummies, his grown-up shoeshining hobo friend knows an expert in the mummy sciences - the most fashionable of all wrestlers, Mil Mascaras.

Mil seems to have left Blue Demon and the shadow of El Santo behind after the indignities he was subjected to during the first Momias de Guanajuato film, and is now hanging out with El Rayo de Jalisco (really bad at fighting midgets) and Blue Angel (not a lot better at fighting midgets). Apart from the lucha business, the three also seem to have some sort of fitness studio exclusively for women wearing exceedingly short skirts.

Three luchadores and their army of aerobic groupies should be enough to solve the mummy and evil mastermind problem for good.

El Robo De Las Momias De Guanajuato won't go down in the annals of lucha cinema as one of the most exciting examples of the genre. On the other hand, it is an Agrasanchez production, and compared to other products of this most slapdash of all Mexican cult movie production companies, this isn't too bad a film.

First and foremost, Superzan is nowhere to be seen, and while neither Blue Angel nor El Rayo are of much interest, or really doing anything, they certainly aren't lifesucking voids like he is (Darkseid take note). Mil Mascaras, for his part, is Mil Mascaras. In other words, the most perfect luchador ever to wear the most eyegouging fashion outside of Bollywood with utmost confidence.

I also approve of the interesting life the wrestlers seem to lead, with their short-skirted what-ever-they-may-bes always just one blink away from oiling their manly chests. It's the 70s, oh yes.

Tito Novaro is solid all around. His acting is a little too professional and not scenery-chewing enough for my tastes in this context, but he's not too bad. He also gets to ride around in a weird little coach that is lead around by an animated skeleton with a scythe. I don't know what that's all about, yet I can't help but approve (again!) and put a coach just like it on my Christmas wishlist.

As a director, Novaro doesn't do much, but that seems to be quite fitting in a film where nobody seems to be doing all that much, and when he/she/it is doing something, they are doing it quite slowly. So slowly even that there is no need for typical Agrasanchez filler in the form of badly integrated musical numbers recycled from other movies or bad comedy in the film. I'm not completely sure why, but I think that's a win.

What entertainment value the film has rests on the shoulders of the natural awesomeness of Mil Mascaras, the typically disarming matter-of-factness in which the silly plot is presented (none of Blue Demon's mummy skepticism here) and the weird little details that naturally happen in any film concerning luchadores, mad scientists, mad occultists, mummies, groupies and midgets.

As a fan of lucha cinema, that's more than enough for me, your mileage however, dear reader, may very well vary. In any case, we all can learn something from the film: mummies make for very slow miners and making them invincible with the help of your newly built reactor can lead to explosive problems.



Todd said...

You bring up an interesting point. It never occurred to me that the reason Agrasanchez kept returning to mummies as antagonists was because their physical slowness absolved the filmmakers from having to come up with more stuff to fill up screen time. But in all seriousness I think that actually might have been the case.

houseinrlyeh said...

It's at least the sort of idea I wouldn't put past Agrasanchez.

Todd said...

Nor would I. Their lone driving dictum seems to have been "feature length or die".

houseinrlyeh said...

Yes, I think it was. It's somewhat heroic, seeing their lack of funds.
On the other hand - Superzan.