Muñecas Peligrosas (Review)

Muñecas Peligrosas

aka Danger Dolls aka Operación Contraespionaje aka Operation Counter
Muñecas Peligrosas
Written by Alfredo Ruanova
Directed by Rafael Baledón

Muñecas Peligrosas
Muñecas Peligrosas is the first of the two Las Tigresas films, featuring a trio of fighting femmes in black catsuits and leopard collars who fight evil (for a fee!) It fits right in with the established world of 1960s Mexican spy cinema, which borrows chunks from James Bond and Eurospy while keeping its own distinct flavor. There is a secret international spy agency, and all-powerful unknown villains who retain their mystery despite having advanced branding tactics. Muñecas Peligrosas is a more subtle affair then the sequel, which features the ladies battling green robots controlled by a mad scientist. Here, they battle an industrialist determined to steal a catalyst for solid fuel production by luring the maker to Mexico via sabotage. But the plot is just background distraction, the real draw of Muñecas Peligrosas is the female characters, the three fighting women and their comic relief maid.

The lead Tigresa is Emily (code designation: T001), played by Emily Cranz. She was born Emma Cranz Cantillano in Arizona to a German mother and Mexican father. She had a string of film appearances in the 1960s, along with several albums (occasionally with a group called Los Black Jeans) and appearances on television variety shows. She eventually married and disappeared from public view in 1970.
Muñecas Peligrosas
Tigresa Diana (code designation: T009) is played by actress Maura Monti. She’s best known to genre fans as the star of the Mexican Batwoman movie, La Mujer Murciélago, as well as appearances in films such as S.O.S. Conspiracion Bikini, El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras, and Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos. Maura Monti has gigantic hair in this movie.

The final Tigresas is Barbara (code designation: T002), played by Bárbara Angely. Her character sort of gets the shaft in both of the films, often supporting one of the other two characters. Bárbara Angely was born Barbara Mueller in Austria, both her and her twin sister Angelika became models in Italy and eventually moved to Mexico. Now being billed as Bárbara Angely, she appeared in films through the last 1960s, only to retire by 1970 (it was said she tired of the lifestyle.) She earned a Ph.D. and eventually became a triathlon athlete along with her sister. It was while competing in one such event that she suffered the injuries that claimed her life in 2008.
Muñecas Peligrosas
Despite Barbara being a real Tigresa, Emily’s maid Leonor (played by comedic actress Leonorilda Ochoa) gets much more screen time and plot development. Unlike the three import actresses above, Leonorilda Ochoa did not marry and vanish from public view in 1970 as the Mexican film industry depressed. She moved to television, gaining fame in Los Beverly de Peralvillo, a satire on life of rich Mexican City residents (and named in reverence to the US program Beverly Hillbillies). She has been absent in the public eye in recent years due to Alzheimer’s.

Villain Garrick is one of those villains who needs people to know who he is, so he has his big G logo plastered all over his hideout and on his troops. The design of the big G kept making me thing of Gizmonic Institute from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Maybe the Institute militarized and that’s why Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank moved to Deep 13. Makes you think…
Muñecas Peligrosas
There is also a very unfunny running gag involving a karate instructor (played by Alejandro Suárez in yellowface) who speaks gibberish back and forth with Leonor while she hits on him. These scenes go on for far too long and are just awful.

The copy I have came complete with some fan subtitles. Some of the names might not match right up with other names you’ve seen, and I’ve compromised by what names sound correct. And as this is relatively obscure, please enjoy the more detailed than usual review. Or else!

Emily (Emily Cranz) – Codename: T001. Emily owns the headquarters and is the leader of Las Tigresas. She is dating Waldo, who turns out to be working for the enemy. So there is guilt and stuff going on.
Diana (Maura Monti) – Codename: T009. Diana is skilled in the bow and arrows. I don’t know if her number jumping from two to nine means there six inactive or deceased Las Tigresas out there. The film just doesn’t answer that pressing question. How dare you, film!
Barbara (Bárbara Angely) – Codename: T002. Barbara is mentioned as knowing Jim Morrison from her time in New York City, and returns there at one point for vacation, where she convinces the boss to less Jim pay their higher fee. She specializes in the swords. That’s also about all she does for both films.
Leonor (Leonorilda Ochoa) – Emily’s loyal maid. Her greatest wish is to be one of the Tigresas. She’s the comic relief, and there is a lot of relief. She’s almost the most seen character in the film!
Jim Morrison (Fernando Casanova) – The new boss, nicknamed “Jefe” by the Tigresses before he’s even officially their boss. Then he becomes their boss when IUS hires the ladies at the high fees. Is the only IUS agent in Mexico who doesn’t get killed easily by Garrick.
Garrick (Armando Silvestre) – Egotistical jerk who is trying to steal the K20 because of reasons not known, all you need to know is he is evil. That’s what the secretive international spy agency that assassinates hundreds off the books says, so it must be legitimate. Likes to put the letter “G” everywhere.

Muñecas Peligrosas
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La Mujer Murciélago

La Mujer Murciélago

aka The Batwoman

Written by Alfredo Salazar
Directed by René Cardona

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!

Gloria (Maura Monti) – Millionaire socialite who used her money to train herself to become the ultimate crime fighter and also the ultimate wrestler. Thus, she became…
La Mujer Murciélago / Batwoman (Maura Monti) – Internationally famous crime fighting lady who also headlines local wrestling matches all while wearing almost nothing at all, except a bit of trademark infringement.
Mario Robles (Héctor Godoy) – A special agent sent from the FBI to help out the mass murder case, and immediately calls in Batwoman.
Dr. Eric Williams (Roberto Cañedo) – A retired surgeon who collects fish. Oh, and he’s murdering wrestlers in order to create man fish hybrid creatures because he’s mas loco. His face is burned by Batwoman halfway through the film.
Pisces (???) – the Gillman created by Dr. Williams who will soon be kidnapping women at an ocean near you!
No. 1 / José (David Silva) – Henchman of Dr. Williams who pretends to be blind. He finds new victims for the doctor.
Do I…or don’t I??? I don’t even know anymore!

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The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy (review)

The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy

aka Las Luchadoras contra la momia

Lorena Velázquez as Gloria Venus (Loretta)
Armando Silvestre as Armando Rios
Elizabeth Campbell as Golden Rubi (Ruby)
Ramón Bugarini as Prince Fujiyata
Víctor Velázquez as Dr. Luis Trelles (Prof. Tracy)
Nathanael “Frankenstein” León as Fujiyata’s bald henchman

Mexico has a proud tradition of Los Luchadoros movies, from Santo fighting Martians to Blue Demon fighting Infernal Brains. Even the women get into the act, this is the second film featuring Las Luchadoras Gloria Venus and Golden Rubi, as well as the forth featuring the title villain, the Aztec Mummy (Earlier film Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.) It’s the Mexican version of Aliens vs. Predator, except from the 1960’s and thousands of times better. Like most of the Mexican Wrestling movies, it’s got lots of campy fun. However, this film has a dark side that scars it’s appeal this day. There is a gang of villains in the movie who are an Asian gang. Being that Mexico has like 2 Asian people in the 1960’s, they are all played by Mexicans. So the villains are a yellow-face stereotype similar to anti-Japan films made during World War II. The Yellow-faceness can be argued that they didn’t give the actors false slanted eyes, such as horrible examples on Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice and John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror, but they just had actors who looked vaguely Asian. Very vaguely. If you were drunk. And blind. And high on ‘shrooms. Barring that, the film holds together pretty well. Just view it for what it is, an artifact of the times. Sit back, relax, and pull a half-Nelson on your opponent while your tag-team partner distracts the ref so you can hit them with a chair.

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