Starring Mil Máscaras, John Carradine, María Duval, Maura Monti, Marta Romero, Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
Directed By Federico Curiel
Boy, oh boy. If there’s anything I’ve always thought my lucha films were sorely lacking in, it’s impotent vampires and John Carradine. Thankfully Las Vampiras came just in the nick of time to remedy that situation. A famous character actor, hand picked out of John Ford’s legendary stock company and plopped right into the middle of the wacky world of Lucha Libre is enough to raise quite a few eyebrows. Unfortunately, the result is by far one of the worst genre offerings I have ever had the misfortune to sit through.
Sorry folks, I really was hoping for a better introduction to the films of Mil Máscaras, the final piece of the lucha holy trinity, than Las Vampiras provided me with. This movie is so careless and jumbled in terms of narrative and atmosphere that it insults the intelligence of even the most devoted follower of lucha cinema. I literally felt my brain cells popping off one by one like a bubbling vat of simmering frijoles.
Yeah, that’s his name… “Black Man”. And I’m not talking “Hombre Negro”, either. I’m talking full on, in English, “Black Man”. If the NAACP were a little more privy to the world of lucha cinema I’m sure they would have descended on that scene like a pack of vultures. I am all about cultural sensitivity, but personally I found it hilarious when Mil Máscaras, looking for his adversary, wanders up and down the hallway, repeatedly calling out “Black Man!… Black Man!” over and over again.
The great thing about Mil Máscaras in this film is that he is a far cry from Santo in terms of being a masterful detective and Jack of all trades. Besides the occasional epiphany, he really is there to simply look suave, wear a bunch of cool masks, and crush skulls. He enlists the help of his friend, Carlos Meyer, to do most of the thinking and research that the case demands. Unlike the Santo / Blue Demon pairings of the past, Mil Máscaras and Carlos are pretty much intellectual equals. In fact, the only differences between the two are that Carlos is about 100 pounds lighter and doesn’t have time for wardrobe changes every four minutes.
What a fucking mess. Nothing could save this film. Not even the world’s greatest multi-masked luchador. Making it through this trainwreck is a true test of endurance. It’s the equivalent to watching a self-absorbed drunk stare into his glass while rattling off improvised ghost stories at 3AM to his own befuddled amusement. Avoid it. Hopefully this film is simply a misstep in the career of Mil Máscaras, I am anxious to check out some more films from this famed luchador and will do my best to remain optimistic.