Posts tagged "José María Fernández Unsáin"

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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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 27, 2014 at 8:10 am

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Aventura al Centro de la Tierra (Review)

Aventura al Centro de la Tierra

aka Adventure at the Center of the Earth
Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth
Written by José María Fernández Unsáin (as J.M. Fernandez U.)
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna

Hug time!

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.

Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth

Hey, I’m a lizard with crap glued to my head! And you think you have a bad job…

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

Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth

Ladies and blacks, get out!

Professor Díaz (José Elías Moreno) – Lead professor guy who drags everyone into the caves and speaks all grand pronouncements while doing nothing except shooting and destroying everything he finds. Science!
Hilda Ramírez (Kitty de Hoyos) – An assistant professor who gets brought on the expidetion despite being left at camp almost all the time thanks to Professor Díaz. Likes to take pictures of the dark, which comes in handy when the pictures show eyes watching her. Is kidnapped by ManBat.
Dr. Peña (Carlos Cortés as Carlos Cortez) – A doctor brought along in case people are hurt. Becomes the love interest of Hilda despite being the least developed of the main characters.
Jaime Rocha (David Reynoso), Dr. Laura Ponce (Columba Domínguez), and Dr. Manuel Ruiz (Javier Solís) – Jaime Rocha is a big game hunter brought in to shoot whatever monster is rumored to be killing people in the cave. Dr. Laura Ponce is a geologist needed because caves are made of rocks. Dr. Ruiz is a writer who gets added to the group because they needed another guy with an advanced degree. Dr. Ruiz and Dr. Ponce like each other, but Ponce becomes greedy upon finding diamonds, while Ruiz wants to inform the government. Rocha overhears and kills Ruiz to cash in on the wealth, but Ponce says she’s going to inform the government anyway in deference to her late friend. Unfortunately both she and Rocha get killed by the ManBat before anyone knows what is going on, resolving this plot conflict with blood and bodies.
The Black Servant of Dr. Peña (???) – Because we need a cook in the center of the Earth! He never gets a name despite being a major character! Also there are cave guides brought along for monster fodder, all of which gets names. But not this guy! We salute you, Black Servant of Dr. Peña. Yes, he dies.
Cyclops (???) – Cyclops attacks the party randomly. They shoot it with a drug bullet, but the cyclops lands on a stalagmite as it falls and is somehow impaled like 3 feet through the chest. Cyclopses must have a low calcium diet that makes their chest bones basically jelly or something. This is why you should have proper nutrition, people! This cyclops costume has a tail, and I am unsure if it is the same costume from La Nave de los Monstruos and Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos
ManBat (???) – I have to call him ManBat because the only alternative is BatMan. Falls in love with Hilda and stalks her all through the movie. Has an expressive makeup face in closeups, but is obviously a mask in long shots. Is intelligent and tough, but not immune to being shot with many many bullets.

Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth

Someone saw the missing King Kong spider pit sequence!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 21, 2014 at 8:11 am

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

La Nave de los Monstruos (Review)

La Nave de los Monstruos

aka The Ship of Monsters
La Nave de los Monstruos
Story by José María Fernández Unsáin
Adapted by Alfredo Varela
Directed by Rogelio A. González

La Nave de los Monstruos

A woman after his own heart

An amazing adventure, La Nave de los Monstruos – aka The Ship of Monsters – is essential global pop cinema viewing, not simply just essential Mexican pop cinema viewing. A purely entertaining spectacle of space ladies who desperately need to replace the missing men from their civilization, thus are quested to scour the galaxy to find suitable males. But despite collected a rogues gallery of interesting monsters, nothing prepares them for the human male and his singing cowboy ways. Those who haven’t seen the film are now confused, not realizing the singing cowboy is presented as the irresistible bit of manliness that the rest of the galaxy is missing. In addition, he introduces the concept of love, which causes jealously and the best case of surprise space vampirism I’ve ever seen in a movie.
La Nave de los Monstruos

A non-gross male? What the heck??

The introduction to love concepts aren’t why everyone loves this film, it’s just the gravy on top. The real reason for the season is the amazing monster costumes! We got a crosscut of 1950s man in suit monsters, including a boxy robot. The costumes themselves are spectacular, some having appeared in Mexican cinema before, and a few that will show up again almost a decade later.

The Ship of Monsters takes more than just some of the monster designs from American science fiction films, there is a constant mention of radiation and atomic throughout the movie. The men from the planet Venus all died due to atomic sickness, everyone on Tor’s homeworld died due to nuclear radiation, and Zok’s planet had a radioactive disaster that rendered his entire species nothing but walking talking skeletons. While Mexico wasn’t a direct participant in the Cold War, it does lie in close enough proximity to the US that had any sort of nuclear exchange happened, it would suffer dire consequences as well. So the thought must have been on their minds. Mexico didn’t suffer from weapons being used on it like Japan, so their response in film is more a warning of the possibilities, not a reflection of the destruction of war and atomic horror returned in monstrous form.

La Nave de los Monstruos

We demand a creepier cave!

The joy of the monsters on the rampage propels The Ship of Monsters into amazing land, and you should track down a copy as soon as you can. Unfortunately, it only seems to be released as part of double DVDs. Where the heck is Criterion? Get on it, cinephiles! This is movie magic, so break out your wands and Wingardium Leviosa a copy to your player.

Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe) – Commandress of the interplanetary fleet sent out to find dudes for planet Venus. Helps find a whole pack of gross monsters that are the best the galaxy has to offer. Until she finds a singing cowboy on Earth…
Beta (Lorena Velázquez) – a foreigner to Venus, daughter of Ur, planet of shadows. Is the navigator and secret vampire from Uranus. Goes mad with vampire bloodlust halfway through the film as things get crazy.
Lauriano Gomez (Lalo Gonzalez “Piporro”) – A singing cowboy that somehow becomes the most attractive single male in the galaxy. Helps defeat the monsters when they go berzerk. Is guardian to his younger brother, Chuy.

As all the men on Planet Venus have died due to radiation sickness, the interplanetary fleet is sent out to collect men. During a montage as the credits roll, Gamma and Beta’s ship picks up what is dubbed in the credits as Los Monstruos de las Galaxias:

Tor (himself) – A robot from the dead planet Palis, where everyone was killed in atomic wars. The robot is the only male the women find that they even want to associate with, as he interacts with them while everyone else is shoved in a closet and randomly gassed or froze. Powerful and follows their instructions. Attracted to jukeboxes. The robot suit was used before in the 1958 film Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy
Tagual (himself) – Prince of Mars, he mysteriously looks like one of the aliens from Invasion of the Saucer Men. Is very angry about being space kidnapped, and becomes the default leader of Los Monstruos de las Galaxias. Features a cool liquid blood moving in tubes effect that you can barely see most of the time. If you enjoy this costume, it can be seen in a slightly more tattered form in Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos
Uk (himself) – A cyclops and King of fire planet. He’s also angry about being kidnapped and is a warrior. Despite being from the fire planet, he gets set on fire, which one would think he would be used to. If you enjoy this costume, it is also seen again in a more tattered form in Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos.
Utirr (himself) – The grand priest of the Red Planet (which I don’t think is supposed to be Mars, but another Red Planet!), and also a spider. Probably the coolest costume because it’s so grotesque, but I don’t know if it was ever reused by another Mexican film.
Zok (himself) – A skeleton that laughs creepily a lot. He just floats in the air, occasionally moved around by one of the other monsters. His whole race is skeletal thanks to atomic radiation. Is a human skeleton with dog skull.
It’s another Republican primary debate!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 10, 2014 at 8:01 am

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,