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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El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras (Review)

El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras

aka Planet of the Female Invaders
El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras
Written by Emilio Gómez Muriel and Alfredo Ruanova
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna

El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras

$47 in tickets and I finally won a $2 stuffed bear!

Space ladies have come to Earth, and they’ve come for our m- lungs. They’ve come for our lungs. Not just our lungs, but the lungs of tiny tots, because kid lungs are the best, having not been ruined by decades of smoking (Hey, this is the 1960s!) Once full of Earth Kid Lungs, the Space Ladies will then take over the planet, because what else are you going to do after you steal lungs from a bunch of kids, open an accounting office? Please, like you would get any business, and you’d have to deal with angry mom groups protesting all the time. At least until you blast them with your satellite-directed murder ray. But I digress, the important thing is we got us a cool film with Space Ladies and it’s funky and amazing and direct from Mexico.

El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras is a direct sequel to Gigantes Planetarios, including the same main cast, and even being slightly mirrored to its predecessor (as discussed in the review of Gigantes Planetarios!) But El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras is more fun, has cooler alien enemies, cooler costumes, cooler threats, and even is better written. The ladies do their deeds under the orders of an evil queen, but she has her own problems, a good identical twin who acts as a moral taunt. The Queen cannot bring herself to kill her sister, because of an old superstition that twins share the same soul, and if one is killed, the other will die. So Alburnia gets to be free, much to the annoyance of Queen Adastrea.

Lorena Velázquez El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras

The Olson Twins prepare to break out the knives

El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras is much more well known than its predecessor, largely due to the presence of Lorena Velázquez, Elizabeth Campbell, and Maura Monti as Space Ladies walking around in short shorts and wearing funktacular space helmets that make Daft Punk wish they were cool. The eye candy helped boost the film’s prominence both at home and outside Mexico as it became a cult title.

Part of the fun of El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras comes from the goal of the Space Ladies not being anything releated to finding husbands or needing men in order to repopulate their all-female society. They just want some body parts so they can take over the planet. The men are barely an afterthought. Daniel Wolf and the criminal vie for Queen Adastrea’s feelings (Daniel Wolf doing so while under cover), but her interest in them is partially business related (they will aide the invasion) and she only shows feelings towards Wolf’s character. It could be excised entirely with only a few changed lines.

Lorena Velázquez El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras

What do you mean you have less ridiculous head gear for us?

If you only have time to watch one of the pair, El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras is the better choice, but you should make time for La Nave de los Monstruos/Ship of Monsters as it manages to out crazy both of these films, in the best possible way.

Alfredo B. Crevenna was a German director who left Germany in 1938, and at first attempted to get work in the US. After being unable to secure a visa, he immigrated to Mexico and worked on film there, though not without interference from the US. He went on to work on over 150 films, covering a wide variety of genres, from dramas to comedies to lucha libre to horror. Some of his more fantastic works include Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos, Neutron vs. the Maniac, and Adventure at the Center of the Earth. A cool biography about him can be found here.

El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras

Real Queens love Deep Space Nine!

Queen Adastrea (Lorena Velázquez) – Queen of Sibila who is preparing an expedition to Earth to take over and leave their dying world. To do so they need the lungs of healthy children. Has a twin sister Alburnia, who she doesn’t kill due to an ancient belief that twins share the same soul and if one dies, so does the other.
Alburnia (Lorena Velázquez) – The good twin in that she’s not doing evil things and acts as Adastrea’s conscience. Both parts are played by Lorena Velázquez, but she gives each one distinct slight mannerisms to where you can tell them apart even after they’ve switched clothes. Lorena Velázquez, a former Miss Mexico (second place in 1958, winning in 1960), who refused to represent Mexico in the Miss Universe pageant (I could not find out why!) She is a second generation film performer, the daughter of actor Víctor Velázquez (and older sister of actress Teresa Velázquez.) Lorena Velázquez was also one of Las Luchadoras (appearing inThe Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy), as well as Santo Contra los Zombies, Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro, and La Nave de los Monstruos.
Martesia (Elizabeth Campbell) – One of the first wave of Space Ladies sent to Earth, captures the initial batch of humans that includes Silvia and Marcos. Helps abduct a school full of children.
Elizabeth Campbell was an actress who gained fame in the Mexican film industry in the 1960s. There is a lack of information on her before she entered the Mexican film industry in 1961, and what happened after she departed in 1968. Elizabeth Campbell was one of Las Luchadoras, known in the US as the Wrestling Women, in films like The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy. She can also be seen in Operación 67, and Peligro…Mujeres en Acción.
Eritrea (Maura Monti) – One of the first wave of Space Ladies sent to Earth, captures the initial batch of humans that includes Silvia and Marcos. Helps abduct a school full of children.
Maura Monti was an Italian model/actress who gained fame in the Mexican cinema scene during the 1960s. She’s probably best known for her role as Batwoman in La Mujer Murciélago, as well as appearances in Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos, The Vampires, La Muerte en Bikini, Con Licencia Para Matar, and SOS Conspiracion Bikini
Professor Daniel Wolf (Guillermo Murray) – The famous professor is back, now more famous than ever. He’s once again tricking space women into trusting him with his fake bad boy persona, and defeating alien invasion threats.
Silvia (Adriana Roel) – Daniel Wolf’s secretary is still his secretary, but now she’s dating Marcos. But their first date results in them both being kidnapped by aliens! That’s like the fifth worst first date I’ve seen.
Marcos Godoy (Rogelio Guerra) – Marcos has restarted his boxing career, but now instead of throwing fights, he just takes money for throwing fights and scams the scammers. This is sort of dumb, as now they want him dead. But at least he gets a date with Silvia, before that whole being kidnapped by aliens thing happens.
Rey Taquito (José Ángel Espinosa “Ferrusquilla”) – The manager is slightly more respectful now, in that he’s still doing bad stuff but feels guilty about it. Alerts Professor Wolf to Marcos and Silvia’s kidnapping and joins the trip to go rescue them.
The terrible truth on where migraines come from!

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Gigantes Planetarios (Review)

Gigantes Planetarios

aka Planetary Giants
Gigantes Planetarios
Story by Alfredo Ruanova
Screenplay by Alfredo Ruanova and Emilio Gómez Muriel
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna

Gigantes Planetarios
Mexican science fiction was in a heyday in the 1960s, not only was the lucha libre genre doing strong work and showing masked wrestlers battling all sorts of beings, but there also was a nice batch of exploration scifi. These features would fit in nicely with the 1950s science fiction output in America, especially the many early rocket films that featured long sequences of astronauts preparing for their rocket missions, taking off in their rocket ships, and dealing with every day space annoyances like meteors, which usually meant an extended spacewalk sequence to repair the damage. These films became superseded in the 1960s by films where things don’t take 75 minutes for something to happen. Gigantes Planetarios (aka Planetary Giants) comes off as a nice hybrid of styles. There is still the homebrew science astronauts and slow build to actual rocket flight, but by then we got aliens and dictators and murder, so things are happening!
Gigantes Planetarios
Director Alfredo B. Crevenna and producer Emilio Gómez Muriel decided to save on money by producing two films at once, so Gigantes Planetarios is immediately followed by El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras. The films have a few mirror parallels, but end up being different in tone and quality. While Gigantes Planetarios features the Planet of Eternal Night, El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras goes to the Planet of Eternal Light. Gigantes Planetarios has a society dominated by a dictatorial male, while El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras has a society dominated by a dictatorial female (and is an all-woman society!) Both films feature Professor Daniel Wolf pretending to be a tough guy villain in order to fool the aliens. Both films feature an extended boxing match that ends with a character paid to throw the fight. Overall, El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras just ends up being more fun, because it fully embraces its campiness while still delivering a good story.

That isn’t to say Gigantes Planetarios is bad, it just takes a while to get going before running around on the alien planet begins. But ultimately, things don’t come together into a bunch of fun, it just goes along being average. And average doesn’t always cut it. There are some golden scenes, especially when the aliens are first invading Earth and blasting people at random. Those darn aliens, who will they blast next?
Gigantes Planetarios

Professor Daniel Wolf (Guillermo Murray) – Famous professor of knowing stuff, he gets involves in the whole aliens coming to Earth and doing sabotage business. Takes over the construction of Professor Walter’s rocketship and flies it to the invading planet to take the fight to the aliens.
Silvia (Adriana Roel) – Professor Wolf’s loyal assistant, she joins the space crew against his wishes and proves herself a valued member of the team as they fight the alien menace.
Marcos Godoy (Rogelio Guerra) – A boxer looking for a place to hid from the mob, he ends up accidentally joining the space mission when he steals the spacesuits of the real pilots.
Rey Taquito (José Ángel Espinosa “Ferrusquilla”) – The comic relief manager of Marcos who also accidentally joins the space mission. Is the older blue collar viewpoint.
El Protector (José Gálvez) – The nefarious dictator of The Planet of Eternal Darkness, bent on harassing Earth and has no regard for the life of his own men.

Gigantes Planetarios
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Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos (Review)

Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos

aka Santo vs. the Martian Invasion

Santo as El Santo
Manuel Zozaya as Prof. Ordorica
Wolf Ruvinskis as Argos
Ham Lee as Morpeo
El Nazi as Martian
Maura Monti as Aphrodite

Mexican Masked Wrestler El Santo, the Silver Mask. A Legend. Starred or was featured in 52 movies in his career. We can honestly say, this is one of them. Actually, this is pretty good for a Mexican Martian invasion movie. It fits in nicely with many low budget American science fiction films that were coming out at the time, and since it involves Martians invading Mexico, and a masked wrestler as Earth’s only hope, you know it’s more of a superhero film than anything else. In fact, El Santo had his own comic series in Mexico, and many of his films and other Luchadores Enmascarados (Masked Wrestlers) films are science fiction/horror/comic book movies at their cores. These movies can be a load of fun, or just a big load. Despite the ridiculousness of much of this movie, I enjoyed it, as it did a few things American movies rarely did back then.

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