Friday, November 14, 2008

Luchadoras contra el médico asesino, La (1962)

...aka: Doctor of Doom
...aka: Rock 'N' Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape
...aka: Sex Monster

Directed by:
René Cardona

Monster ape men, acid-scarred mad doctors and female wrestlers with leotards pulled over their cone bras and granny panties... A recipe for a classic if there ever was one. This color import was the first of the several super-corny "Luchadoras" (Wrestling Women) movies produced in Mexico during the 1960s and distributed in the US by K. Gordon Murray (who reportedly made a bundle off of them). Of the ones I've seen so far (three in total), this is by far the funniest and most entertaining of the bunch and should register high on the must-see list of any self-respecting camp fanatic. After a wrestling match where world champion grappler Gloria Venus (Lorena Velázquez) triumphs, we learn there's a madman busy at work in the city and he's leaving behind an ever increasing number of dead female bodies. Turns out the killer is a mad doctor (whose face is kept covered the majority of the movie to conceal his secret identity) trying to perfect his brain transplant operations, but the women keep dying. Thinking they are failing because the women they're using are unintelligent and have low IQs, the doc sends out his gang of thugs to abduct chemist Alice Fontaine (Sonia Infante) out from under the watchful eye of her superior Dr. Wright (Roberto Cañedo), but her operation also results in death, so he then sets his sights on getting a hold of a woman who is physically strong... just like Gloria and her female wrestler friends! Oh yeah, there's also Gomar (Gerardo Zepeda); a half-man/half-gorilla monster who's kept locked up in the basement, grunts and eats entire racks of meat at one sitting. The doctor can control him telepathically, so he occasionally sends him out on the town with some human henchmen to kidnap women and throw around the cops. The doctor has also created a nice bulletproof sheet metal suit and mask for Gomar to wear that wards off those pesky bullets. A pair of detectives; Mike Henderson (Armando Silvestre) and his short, cowardly partner Tommy (Chucho Salinas; the forced "comic relief" in a film already full of it), are on the case.

Meanwhile, back at the gym, Gloria learns that Alice (her sister) has been killed and swears vengeance. She and the other wrestlers are also introduced to a new wrestler by the name of Golden Rubi (Elizabeth Campbell). Since both Gloria and Rubi are tall, statuesque and attractive, and the rest of the wrestling women look like Danny DeVito in drag, they're paired together for tag team matches against such foes as The Gazelle and (?)Bertha, and become roommates. They also attract the attention of the two detectives, who take them out on dates and give them transmitter watches before being kidnapped by the doctor and put in the "death chamber" (a wall full of giant spikes closing in on them). The girls follow their transmitter signals to the lab, save the guys and kick some ass while dressed in their matching sweater/spandex pants ensembles. Gloria also flings a cup full of acid in the doctor's face before the whole place goes up in flames... And it's not over just yet kids, because the doctor, his main henchman Mao (Jesús Murcielago Velázquez) and Gomar have all escaped and are plotting the ultimate revenge against our heroines. They kidnap burly lady wrestler Mary Carmichael (Chabela Romero), transplant Gomar's brain into her body and then pass her off as a new masked wrestling phenom named Vendetta. Posing as Vendetta's (masked) agent, the doc arranges a high profile fight between Gloria and Vendetta, where he plans to use his hypnotic control to get Vendetta to kill her.

DOCTOR OF DOOM (which is also on tape as ROCK 'N ROLL WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC APE) is an extremely cheap production with generic sets, very flat b&w photography and the expected horrible dubbing, but it's still worth watching for fans of Z cinema. The wrestling footage is actually choreographed pretty well and is no worse than what we see nowadays, though for some reason most of the action is shot outside of the ring.

The sequels (featuring most of the same cast) were: LAS LUCHADORAS CONTRA LA MOMIA (1964; WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY), LAS LOBIAS DEL RING (1965; SHE-WOLVES OF THE RING; a drama that won't be covered on this website) and LAS MUJERES PANTERAS (1967; THE PANTHER WOMEN; with Ariadna Welter replacing Velázquez as Gloria Venus). There may be others.


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