Mil Máscaras vs. the Aztec Mummy


[a.k.a. Mil Mascaras Resurrection]
Dir: "Andrew Quint" (Jeff Burr) and Chip Gubera
Star: Mil Máscaras, Kurt Mirtsching, Melissa Osborn, Jeffrey Uhlmann

I'm not even sure if Mexican cinema is making masked luchador films like this any more: it's quite possible they've moved on, rejecting them as too cheesy and inane for a modern audience. They are, of course, spot-on there, but that didn't stop a bunch of gringos from taking the same concept, and running with it, using Máscaras as the focus for a very similar concept to that made famous by the Santo movies of the sixties. Like Santo, Máscaras is always masked, and always in character, interspersing his battles against villainy with in-ring contests, ultimately emerging triumphant in both. Here, his foe is a resurrected mummy, played by Uhlmann - likely the only Ph.D from Oxford, ever to play an Aztec mummy. Google his name and it says he is "probably best known for his mathematical generalizations of the Kalman filter". What, more than this film? Surely not. Anyway, there is a magical sceptre which he plans to use to take over the world, since it gives him the power to hypnotize anyone to his will. Anyone, that is, except Máscaras, whose mask fortunately renders him immune due to its thickness, which has been passed down through the generations, since he is merely the latest in a long line of guardians charged with protecting us against Aztec mummies. Máscaras meets the US president and is given 48 hours to handle the threat, or the missiles start flying. Not that this deadline stops the hero from a crucial wrestling match, naturally.

Yeah: if that sounds entirely daft, I suspect this is the point, and the self-awareness does just about manage to keep this from collapsing in on itself. Mascaras was 69 when he made it, but still looks impressive enough: his name translates as "thousand masks", which is why he has a different one in just about every scene. Though I have to confess, the sexual tension between him and Maria (Osborn), the daughter of his scientist friend, is kinda creepy since she is barely one-third his age. It is mostly a loving tribute to the genre, and as such, shares its strengths and weaknesses. You need to buy in to the bizarro universe this inhabits if it's to have any chance at success, and also have a tolerance for fairly-crap wrestling matches (in and out of the ring), bad dubbing and production values which often are nearer to cardboard than even plyboard. Still, I can't say I was ever excessively board, while everyone involved keeps an admirably straight face, which can only be admired. It is kinda obvious why they "don't make 'em like this any more," however, and is not exactly something which I would want to watch on a regular basis.

C+
[March 2014]


Ring of truth
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