Conquistador de la Luna (Review)

Conquistador de la Luna

aka Conqueror of the Moon
Conquistador de la Luna
Story by José María Fernández Unsáin
Adapted by Alfredo Varela
Directed by Rogelio A. González

Conquistador de la Luna (Conqueror of the Moon) is a Mexican science fiction comedy that deals with a bumbling genius and his adventure after accidentally getting blasted to the moon and meeting the evil moon aliens. Who are totally not where they got the ideas for Sleestaks from! These Moon Sleestaks clearly have four arms, thank you very much!

Despite being a cornball comedy featuring a Mexican comedian with a one-word nickname (we’ve all learned from FourDK that one-word nicknames on Mexican comedians are a warning signal that only brings pain!), there are some inventive elements that borrow from classic American and British alien and space travel films. The Martians found on the Moon have four arms and appear to be green in appearance in what I can only believe is a reference to the John Carter of Mars stories from Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Conquistador de la Luna
The Great Brain of Mars is a complete non-humanoid creature with an all-seeing eye on a stalk and a big box that the brain is housed in. Like all movie monsters, he can’t resist Mexican women, and when one practically lands in his doorstep, he’s hot to trot to mate with her. Since he’s a brain in a box with an eye tentacle that oozes bubbly liquid, exactly how this mating will occur gets grosser and grosser the more you think about it. And he doesn’t care about consent, because the Great Brain is just going to hypnotize Estela to get the job done. Never fear, there is a man around to rescue her, even if he’s not much of a man.

If Conquistador de la Luna is strongest in one effect, it is in the alien costumes and design. The Sleestaks are just human enough to have recognizable emotions, but just alien enough to be menacing. The Great Brain’s entire setup is impressive, and calls back to the fun era of 1950s science fiction drive-in films with it’s creatively weird design straight out of Roger Corman.
Conquistador de la Luna
Outside of the costumes, Conquistador de la Luna has some practical effects mixed in with some visual tricks. During the rocket sequences, the effects of g-force are shown by the actors’ reflections being contorted. G-force is one of those things that space movies stopped using decades ago, but talking guinea pig movies are still using. There is also a big bag of stock footage “borrowed” from other recent rocketship films, for those of you who like to play the “Where is that from?” game. There are visual effects rocketship shots created just for the film, especially during the climactic showdown to save the planet.

If the writing and directing credits (Story by José María Fernández Unsáin, adapted by Alfredo Varela, directed by Rogelio A. González) look familiar, that’s because they are identical to fellow 1960 Mexican science fiction film La Nave de los Monstruos/Ship of Monsters. Alfredo Varela would adapt dozens of stories by José María Fernández Unsáin through the 50s and 60s. By 1970, José María Fernández Unsáin had moved on to adapting his own scripts and even directing some of them. Alfredo Varela both wrote and acted through the 50s to the 70s.

Enough of that jazz, it’s time to conquer the moon!
Conquistador de la Luna

Bartolo (Antonio Espino “Clavillazo”) – A mechanic and inventor who is also a klutzy goofball. He’s neighbor to the Abundio family and does handyman work for them, which leads to him accidentally blasting himself into space in their rocketship. But that’s what they get for leaving a rocketship in their backyard! Becomes embroiled in a plan to save Earth from Martian invaders.
Estela Abundio (Ana Luisa Peluffo) – Often called Estelita, Estela is the daughter of the famous Professor Abundio and becomes trapped on his rocketship after Bartolo accidentally begins the launch sequence. She becomes the target of affection for The Great Brain of Mars. Ana Luisa Peluffo has appeared in over 200 films since 1949.
Professor Don Abundio (Andrés Soler) – Professor and father of Estala, Don Abundio will spend most of the movie as an outside adviser to Bartolor and Estele, communicating by radio and conferring with a room full of guys with long beards.
The Great Ruler of the Moon (???) – The Martian chief commander of the Moon forces serving the Great Brain of Mars, he’s totally a Sleestak, but don’t say that to his face!
Kalia (???) – The punishment chief of the expedition. She has long hair, four arms, and is a former beauty queen of Mars. She ate her last husband for being useless. Has a thing for Bartolo.
The Great Brain of Mars (???) – The Glorious Leader of Mars. His body died, but his brain is still alive thanks to a box device it’s stored in. He has a mouth that talks outside on the table, which is shaped like a huge Martian head that’s chopped in half. He’s literally become abstract art. Has a big prehensile eye stalk that does most of his outside world interaction.

Conquistador de la Luna
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