Sunday, 19 October 2008

Doctor of Doom (1963)

The 1963 Mexican movie Doctor of Doom (Las Luchadoras contra el médico asesino, released in the US as Rock 'N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape) is based on the simple and obvious premise that the two elements whose presence is most likely to guarantee the success of a film are mad scientists and female wrestlers. So if you make a movie that features both mad scientists and lady wrestlers, you’re bound to have a sure-fire winner. Since it kicked off a sub-genre of wrestling women movies, the producers were obviously right.

The mad scientist in question is working on brain transplants. He believes female subjects are most suitable, since women have more endurance than men. Unfortunately to date all his experiments have ended in failure, although he did manage to successfully transplant a gorilla’s brain into a man. He obtains his experimental subjects by the simple expedient of getting his criminal gang (like any self-respecting mad scientist he has a criminal gang working for him) to kidnap women.

At first he thinks that perhaps he needs more intelligent women, so he tries the operation on a female scientist. That fails also, so then he hits on the idea of using a woman with great physical strength. And it just so happens that his most recent victim has a sister who is Mexico’s most famous female wrestler, Gloria Venus. But kidnapping wrestling women turns out to be hard work, and Gloria and her wrestling partner Golden Rubi beat the mad scientist’s minions to a pulp.

Our two intrepid wrestling women are now working with the police to track down the mad doctor. The two male police officers assigned to the case run into a few problems though, and have to be rescued from the jaws of death by the wrestling women. But the mad doctor is still on the loose, and he has his gorilla/man hybrid monster to protect him. Things get really difficult when he creates a super lady wrestler to take on Gloria Venus.

This movie has everything you could possibly want. If has beautiful glamorous female wrestlers. A mysterious masked mad scientist. Incompetent policemen. A plot that is so obvious that if you don’t know the identity of the villain within the first ten minutes you’re just not trying. Bad sets. Terrible make-up effects. It has an unstoppable monster. Lots of wrestling scenes with the aforementioned beautiful glamorous female wrestlers. What more could you want?

The acting is fairly dodgy, although Lorena Velázquez and Elizabeth Campbell are energetic and likeable as the wrestling women. And the obligatory comic relief actor playing one of the cop is less annoying than is usual with comic relief actors in old horror movies. Some of his exchanges with Golden Rubi (with whom he has fallen passionately in love) are actually quite amusing.

It’s included in the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border DVD boxed set. It’s presented in an English dub only, and the image quality isn’t fantastic, but you get six movies for a very low price. And it includes another wrestling woman film! So there is certainly no cause for complaint. It’s not Citizen Kane. It’s not even the Citizen Kane of wrestling women movies. But it is lots of extremely cheesy fun, and I loved it.

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