Monday, October 7, 2013

The Mummies of Guanajuato

Director: Federico Curiel
Starring: Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, El Santo, Elsa Cardenas, Patricia Ferrer, Jorje Pinguino

One of the best of the Lucha Libre films as well as the single most popular and profitable. It's not hard to understand why as it teams no less than the three most popular masked Mexican wrestlers of all time and pits them against an army of monsters (a creepy, real life tourist attraction come to life) that really hit home with the local population.

As most Lucha Libre fans know, 'The Mummies of Guanajuato' was originally planned and scripted as a two player co-starring Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras. Then just as filming was about to begin, El Santo was brought in and the script was changed to allow him to come in in the final reel and be the main hero. Mil didn't mind this at all as he saw more money being made with this move, but Blue was furious. The bitter rivalry that he and The Man in the Siver Mask shared in the ring finally poured out behind the Silver Screen (though fortunately not in front of it). For the duration of the movie, Blue and Mil were repeatedly defeated by the army of rampaging mummies (even going so far as to have one of them knock Blue out cold and steal his mask and costume so that Blue would mistakenly be blamed for it's crimes; oh, the indignity!) only to play final reel second bananas to Santo who not only fared better fighting the mummies, but is the one who figures out how to ultimately destroy them (always convenient to carry a trio of flame throwing pistols in your car!). It's easy to understand Blue's resentment.

That aside, the film is terrific fun. It may be a slow go in the early reels, but it gets cracking when it needs to. The mummies themselves are merely wrestlers with pull over fright masks, but director Federico Curiel utilizes them for maximum impact and they truly are an intimidating bunch. Said mummies are also helped by a welcomed unpredictable script that allows them to kill off characters that normally would survive in these genre outings which when combined with the fact that they are based on a real life exhibit, must have lead to a genuine feeling of insecurity for first time audiences. The finale in which our heroic trio makes a final stand against the seemingly invincible army of the undead, is perhaps the single most memorable Lucha Libre moment on film. It's a sequence that's aided by a matador-like theme that puncuates the action perfectly (though sadly, it can't take away from the absolutely awful organ theme that's inexplicable used for the opening and closing credits). Speaking of odd music, there is a particularly bizarre mid-film musical number in which Blue and Mil are serenaded by what can only be described as a group of Robin Hoods playing mandolins! Isolate this one sequence and you have a music vid clip that will leave you speechless. 

Despite being incinerated, the Mexican mummy army proved to have great staying power (especially when the box office warrants it) and they returned in several increasingly horrific (and decidedly more adult) sequels. This first entry however, remains the most memorable and the most fun. 

 Rating: 8/10