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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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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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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