Santa battles Satan in the spaces between a hailstorm of Riffs! Yes, that fantacular Mexican Santa Claus movie, Santa Claus, once again faces getting constantly mocked at the holidays. With good reason, because it is insanity. INSANITY! I also like it, because it’s so crazy. Santa Claus has all the holiday tropes: Santa having special powers, shirtless keymakers, racist depictions of confused children, wizards, and devils going all Home Alone. They even have a nice clean widescreen print, the original René Cardona Mexican version with the K. Gordon Murray dubbing.
The strange mythology of Santa Claus deserves deeper exploration. Santa lives in purgatory with a collection of children from across the globe. The children are dressed in “cultural” attire of their homelands, which leads to the kids from Africa wearing leopard print undies and bones in their hair. For some reason all the white kids have their faces painted a ghoulish light grey. The children live in a giant room where they are forced to sing for Santa at his whim, in between slaving away producing presents for the children of the world. Some of the kids have the freedom to be Santa’s personal assistants, meaning they follow him around and help him battle Satan’s demons, who spend their time on Earth convincing children to reject Santa Claus and be evil. This strange twist on Christianity is further stranged by the presence of nativity scenes, meaning that Jesus does exist in this universe, but seems to play no role in the affairs of Earth. Only Santa cares about the corruption of youth, but as he can only come to Earth once per year, he is forces to sit back and complain and spy on children with his giant freakish telescope (complete with giant eye) and a radar dish with a huge human ear in it. A machine with creepy giant lips announces what is happening on Earth.
Santa not only lives with the enslaved children, but with Merlin the wizard (who is getting up their in years) and with a shirtless blacksmith who makes him magic keys each year (in between building thousand of doors!) Santa has only four white robotic reindeer, the creepy animatronics used will fuel your nightmares for decades. And yet when Santa does get to Earth, almost all his time is spent having a prank duel with a demon named Pitch, before a barking (yet friendly-looking) dog traps Santa in a tree for a few minutes. The main moral dilemma of the film is if good girl Lupita will ever get a doll for Christmas, or if she’ll go bad and steal a doll. Spoiler alert in that she does get a doll.
As you can imagine, this means Santa Claus is a target rich environment as far as Riffing is concerned. Already a MST3K episode, we got new jokes from Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett. Corbett himself came dressed up as a “North Pole Guy” (what the website he ordered the costume from called the elf costume) and the audience immediately sided with him on the curly shoe debate. Spoiler alert, curly shoes rule, and straight-shoer Mike Nelson received a chorus of boos.
Before the Christmas cheer, we got a new short, another of the At Your Fingertips series, the most ponderous children’s shorts ever made. This time, At Your Fingertips: Sugar and Spice taught everyone how to mold sugar into bizarre shapes that it later suggested eating, giving a glimpse to an alternate world where childhood diabetes isn’t a major epidemic. And let’s not even talk about how hyper those kids will be after all that sugar, they’ll be running on the ceiling for weeks!
Overall, the show was hilarious, the riffs were on point, Craig blessed the world and Santa celebrated his birth by giving away a doll and having some rich kid get to see his absentee parents. Might have been nice to give Lupita’s dad a job, but what are you gonna do? Santa has always given rich kids more stuff, because Santa is a lousy fink. That’s right, Santa, you suck! On the other hand, RiffTrax rules!
RiffTrax giving us Zindy the Swamp Boy makes sense, because they’re swamping us with new releases! Us René Cardona, Jr fans know this as the film René Cardona and René Cardona III teamed up to be directed by René Cardona, Jr. Okay, one of many times, but now there is a RiffTrax commentary with it! Originally known as Zindy, el Fugitivo de los Pantanos, this 1973 feature is filled with 1970s Mexican cinema goodness while also being incredibly obscure and amazingly titled. Will Zindy hunt down that jerk Pogo and show him that the true enemy isn’t yourself, but is Zindy? Because that’s what I am demanding from Zindy the Swamp Boy! Buy it today at RiffTrax.com!
Riding the tail end of the great Swamp Boy movie craze of the early 70s (see: Columbo the Swamp Boy, McCloud the Swamp Boy, Maude the Swamp Boy) Zindy the Swamp Boy effectively ended the genre. And for good reason: it violated one of the sacred tenants of the swamp boy genre: do not cast the annoying little kid who played Zindy as your swamp boy.
Unfortunately, Zindy was cast in the movie because the director is his father, Rene Cardona Jr, who also made the previously RiffTrax-’d The Bermuda Triangle and Treasure of The Amazon. Unlike those movies, Zindy does not have a killer doll or a nazi hunting Donald Pleasance. It does however have a chimp that does the dishes, gator wrestling, and the world’s most deadly two square feet of quicksand.
When Zindy’s grandfather discovers his son and daughter-in-law have been hospitalized, he does what we’d all do: flee the premises leaving them to die and guns down the man he believes is responsible. Then he gathers up their infant grandson and moves in with a chimp named Toribio. They move into the swamp, right? WRONG. Turns out Zindy the Swamp Boy is actually forbidden from entering the swamp, or more specifically the swamp zone. Yep, it’s that kind of movie. Sadly, Zindy also plays the flute, so you quickly begin to root for a quick outbreak of malaria to sweep through the swamp and all attached zones.
Fortunately, the movie has an ending so wonderful that you’ll want to start the movie over as soon as it’s done, just to relive everything you just saw with the knowledge of where it’s leading. To say any more would be a disservice to you. Please watch, and experience Zindy The Swamp Boy for the first time.
The Infernal Brains are back in Black and White…Okay, the movie they watched is! Tars and Todd take on the Mexican horror classic The Brainiac (El Baron del Terror)! It’s the Mexican horror film with the best costume ever created in the history of cinema. And also a monster! An evil baron returns after 300 years for revenge against the descendants of the people who burned him as a heretic. Luckily for him, everyone has just one decedent who also looks exactly like their ancestor! And he kills a bunch of random people for no reason and eats brains, but revenge! The cast is a virtual mother load of Mexican cinema talent. The Brainiac is an awesome flick and we talk about it awesomely with awesomeness.
As usual, we got so many listening choices that even someone who has been trapped in a comet for 300 years can find a way: downloadable mp3, embedded flash with slideshow, embedded audio player, and iTunes feed link. So many choices, you’re head will inflate and deflate randomly!
Watch in slideshow form:
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El Baron Del Terror / The Brainiac
Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09
Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10
Daigoro vs Goliath – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 11
Down the Rabbit Hole with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 12
Through the Looking Glass with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 13
Starman – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 14
La Mujer Murciélago
Even the corpse is checking her out!
Someone took a luchador film and a Eurospy film, blended them together, dressed it in a Batman costume, and flicked the gender bender switch. Thus was born La Mujer Murciélago (The Batwoman)! Gloria/Batwoman is a heroine who is heroic just because she wants to be, like most of the lucha movie family. Thankfully, there is a healthy love of monster movie magic and a case for her to solve and a monster to punch. But we suffer from some feminism that isn’t really feminism, Batwoman’s girl power is lacking. Although Batwoman is better than everyone at everything, she still faints and needs to be rescued by men from time to time. Girls, am I right?
Pisces got sick of taking crap from those Fry Guys and next thing you know he was on the run and the McDonaldLand Coroner was getting woken at 3am!
Like so many of the cool wrestling flicks, there is a mad scientist doing diabolical things, namely he’s trying to create fish people! He’s doing so by killing wrestlers and using their gland juices to power fish into becoming a gillman. So, yes, we do get a bargain basement Creature from the Black Lagoon, who is named Pisces and sort of takes orders from the evil doctor. This is the second Mexican flick I’ve seen with a fish man creature, the prior one is The Swamp of the Lost Monster (though there is a twist on that one…)
I give up! I won’t compete with you any more, Walter White!
As is obvious, La Mujer Murciélago lifts imagery from the Adam West Batman tv series, namely the costume. Batwoman wears a batmask for most of the film, and when she’s wrestling, she does it in a copy of the Batman costume. Otherwise, she’s running around in a blue bikini and a cape. How much the news of Batgirl’s introduction to the tv series during the third season influenced this film I do not know, but her costume does not indicate any of the stylings of Barbara Gordon’s. Batwoman even drives around in a black convertable that is similar in look to the Batmobile.
Hey, keep those hands at 10 and 2, Batwoman! And where is your seat belt???
Don’t be expecting this to be some sort of girl power flick. The entire thing an excuse to get women in skimpy clothes. Batwoman parades around most of the film in her bikini action outfit, including scenes of her diving and swimming around, and sneaking around in enemy hideouts. There are plenty of other women in bikinis for a few scenes on the beach. When Gloria isn’t Batwoman, she still wears stylish outfits including négligée that shows off her body. Oddly enough, the wrestling matches are least female exploiting of any of the sequences. Batwoman is in control, except for the several key scenes (and mean final joke) where she is not. Her biography given is one of a woman of great wealth trying to help against injustice, but her actual on screen showing is of a woman who runs around wearing little, attracting attention to herself. It’s an odd translation of the Eurospy stuff, her character is one of those secret agents, except a female version, but the transformation isn’t complete. They make her just tough enough to get the job done. And even then, fishman lust is the true hero.
Maura Monti specialized in these roles that were revealing but not entirely revealing. The Italian born actress spent much of her life growing up overseas and eventually settled in Mexico. Her better known genre roles before The Batwoman include La muerte en bikini (1967) and Santo contra la invasión de los marcianos (1967), and later she also appeared in genre pics El tesoro de Moctezuma (1968), Blue Demon, destructor de espías (1968), Las vampiras (1969), and Cazadores de espías (1969). She retired around 1971 for a decade or so, then returned first in theater and then to television.
I would be a millionaire if I sold women handles to movie monsters!
Do I…or don’t I??? I don’t even know anymore!