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El Hombre y El Monstro (1958); The Man and the Monster
Topic Started: May 13 2017, 01:28 PM (141 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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El Hombre y El Monstruo (1958) Dir. Rafael Baledon
ITB Shock Theatre #199

A concert pianist trades his soul to the devil for the talent to be the world's greatest musician, especially after her slits the throat of his main rival with a scissor and seats her body in his closet so she can decompose while she listens to him practice. He mostly has to play the piano alone, because you know how tricky that devil can be: every time the pianist plays, he turns into a werewolf(!). He's trying to train a prodigal to become the greatest pianist to break the spell, but that's not going so well, and pesky music critic Abel Salazar is going to try and get to the bottom of all this before the rest of the cast is murdered.

Regardless of what you think of the plot (an amalgam of so many horror movie cliches it doesn't bear repeating) this is a serious, well-done film that is way, way ahead technique-wise of the B&W cheapies churned out by indie American horror filmmakers of the time, most of which were concerned with sci-fi beasties (even vampires and werewolves came out of laboratories) rather than gothic horror like this. The film's big drawback is the werewolf, who boasts Martin Scorsese eyes, a W.C. Fields nose, and Donny Osmond teeth. See?

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Salazar we've already seen in a pretty good vampire movie and its sequel, and he's an earnest character and competent actor. Enrique Rambal is okay as the monster; Martha Roth, Italian-born beauty raised in Mexico, is quite lovely as his prodigy. Really, though, we watch these things for cool monsters, occasional shocks, and pretty girls in distress rescued by handsome heroes, and the film doesn't disappoint.

Diálogo de un Millón de Pesos:
"¡Te veo de nuevo como te vi esa noche. Estabas jugando como nunca antes. Era una extraña melodía. Mientras tanto, Samuel, el eterno segundo mejor pianista, el gran fracaso, la sublime mediocridad estaba muriendo de envidia en un rincón!"

A gorgeous print of the film on the old, defunct CasaNegra DVD label, but - realizing how stupid the monster looked - they dropped an even more ridiculous picture of a red-eyed man wrapped in mummy bandages onto the cover(!!). The dubbed-for-TV English soundtrack is included, and we sampled it, and came away unimpressed. The other bonuses are a radio ad and a pair of photo galleries.

We really enjoy these late '50s Mexican horrors, whether they're good ones like this or mainly-for-the-laughs stuff like the Aztec Mummy features, which tend to be nice throwbacks to the glory days of monster movies of the '30s and early '40s. Fun stuff.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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