Aventura al Centro de la Tierra (Review)
Aventura al Centro de la Tierra
The mysterious center of the planet Earth has been a tantalizing source of speculative fiction for decades, until a bunch of eggheads determined it’s all magma and rocks. But screw those eggheads, because we’re still about journeying to mysterious underground civilizations. The concept is so universal that even Mexico has an entry, which not only brings to mind the many dryly boring 1950s adventure romps, but even uses stock footage from some of them. Aventura al Centro de la Tierra (Adventure at the Center of the Earth) even has its own boring old professor guys who are twenty years and twenty pounds to late to be trekking around to parts unknown. Luckily they bring guns and all sorts of modern violence on this quest, because it’s full of monsters.
First, let’s give Aventura al Centro de la Tierra a giant “FUCK YOU!” for the terrible real animal cruelty in one scene. A pit of snakes have a bucket of gasoline thrown on them and are set alight. I’m no big snake fan, but I’m definitely not a big fan of killing animals for a dumb film about a bat creature that wants to score with a hot babe. They also include that classic clip of the crocodile with a fin on its back battling the gila monster that’s in like four or five other films. BOOOOOOOOO!! to that as well. They even sort of reference it with iguanas with horns and crap glued to them that can be seen in the cave.
The real reason to watch Aventura al Centro de la Tierra isn’t all the terrible stuff I’ve been mentioning, but the creature costumes. There is a rather well constructed manbat creature, complete with giant wings and sort of human intelligence and lusts. Despite going on a murder spree, he realizes Kitty de Hoyos is far too attractive to just rip her neck open, and takes her back to his lair to try to woo with bat guts and live rats. The ManBat was joined by a Cyclops, who is also responsible for some of the bodycount in the film, but he’s gunned down rather spectacularly (efforts to drug him end with an impaled Cyclops!)
On the way, the film borrows from classic horror films. Underwater sequences bring to mind similar underwater scenes in Creature of the Black Lagoon. The entire going to the center of the Earth thing is borrowed from so many pulp novels, Jules Verne being the most famous. The ManBat acts like many monsters with crushes by trying to impress the lady he kidnaps (and carries in the required monster carried a lady pose!) Alfredo B. Crevenna would go on to direct Gigantes Planetarios, El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras, and Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos
You poured chocolate syrup on me, you jerk!
Aventura al Centro de la Tierra makes the bold decision to begin with a huge wall of text that a narrator reads to us, describing scientists investigating the origin of man. Basically it says whatever the source, mankind is the ultimate achievement of creation. Obviously this guy hasn’t watched any of the Real Housewives shows or he’d be nuking mankind from orbit.
If you like lots of scenes of guys wandering around caves, then Aventura al Centro de la Tierra is a film for you. If you like the same guys doing every aspect of cave exploring incorrectly, than this is a film for you. The guys set fires in the cave, use a pickaxe on random rocks, set off explosives, fire poison gas, and even smoke. The ladies are wearing the essential spelunking equipment known as skirts.
There is a black guy in the cast, he’s just called “the black man” and never gets a name, he’s brought only because he’s Dr. Peña servant and they needed a cook. They stick him with the women back at the basecamp for many scenes, but he also manages to die via monster the one time they let him play with all the grown up men.
The women get little better. Hilda the Assistant Professor is treated like a secretary and kept at basecamp talking on the walkie-talkie. The Geologist lady discovers giant diamonds and becomes part of a conspiracy to hide said diamonds from the government (which ends in at least one character’s death!) The woman from the beginning scene turns into a hysterical crazy lady upon falling down a shaft, her boyfriend smacking her around to get her senses back — and she returns to hysterical form after his death, condemned to a mental institution for the near future. Hilda has to be rescued by Dr. Peña, because ladies can’t save themselves from monsters!
The film seems to believe there are prehistoric animals causing the problems based entirely on a dead body and a footprint cast. This leads to Professor Díaz showing a bunch of stock shots of dinosaurs from older science fiction films to let everyone know what to expect. Either that, or we had pretty advanced cameras in 65,000,000 BC! (The footage is presented as genuine!)
One thing that’s in the film for flavor but barely commented on is there is a ruined ancient city underground. Professor Díaz mentions it by saying it’s the ruins of an advance civilization, then is immediately distracted by bats or lava or something. And it’s never mentioned again. I can only assume it is the ruins of a once great civilization that the only remaining remnants of are the Cyclops and the ManBat, and possibly all those goofy fake bats. Were ManBat and Cyclops lovers or just roommates? ManBat is obviously sad that his friend is injured during one scene, but beyond that the two are not seen interacting, and ManBat is following Hilda around from the shadows for most of the film. They might just be two lonely creatures who live together to stave off desperation.
Professor Díaz sees the dead Cyclops calls it a living fossil and says evolution stopped here. Uh…when were there fossilized cyclopes, dude? How did this guy get a Ph.D.? While Cyclops seems to just kill people, the ManBat has a more complicated life of stalking and falling in love with women outside his league. None of this stops a good chunk of the Mexican army from filling ManBat with hundreds of bullet holes, shooting him so much the freaking cave collapses. And of course as soon as they remove the debris the body is gone. They end there, instead of doing something interesting like having the ManBat be a cursed immortal from the long lost civilization that has mutated into a monster due to the dark magic keeping him alive.
Sometimes when you journey to the center of cool candy you find delicious caramel and nougat, and sometimes it’s yucky coconut. Adventura al Centro de la Tierra is like finding a coconut tree inside your candy.
Rated 4/10 (Concerned face, poor snakes, hanging on for dear life, rubber bat killer!)
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