This is the first disc of what may be the most entertaining series you'll never get to see.
Mexican exploitation powerhouse Rene Cardona Sr. directs these two "Wrestling Women" adventures. The first, Doctor of Doom, chronicles the attempts of the titular character to effect a brain transplant between female subjects. First blaming his failures on "uneducated women", then (when an intellectual subject also dies on the table), unathletic women, the DoD sets his sights on wrestlers Gloria Venus and Golden Rubi. Gloria and Rubi are easy to spot: they're the willowy models who stand head and shoulders above the squat, more genuine female wrestlers. The Doctor also has Gomar, a successful experiment (gorilla's brain into man's body) whom he likes to dress in bulletproof armor to foil the cops. If any of this sounds familiar, Cardona would remake this with more blood, nudity and color as Night of the Bloody Apes.
In the Wrestling Women vs The Aztec Mummy, the gals are back (though Gloria changed her name to Loretta), along with their police love interests. The Black Dragon, an oriental super villain who is about as Asian as, say, Sean Patrick Harris, is kidnapping and torturing archeologists so he can track down a lost batch of Aztec Gold. The gold is, naturally, safeguarded by a mummy, though it's not Popoca from the popular Aztec Mummy series of the late 50s this one can change shape, from a snake to a horrifying bat-on-a-string ("Look, Loretta! He's a vampire now!" helpfully exclaims Rubi).
Calling these comic book movies is apt, as each is constructed like a three-issue limited series each act has its particular resolution, with the major story arc tying the plot threads together. Approached in this way, they are great fun and for fans of bizarre dubbing, where the producers seem not to care what comes out of the actor's mouths as long it matches the lip movements they are a special delight.
Something Weird had long been planning "The K. Gordon Murray Collection", double features showcasing ballyhoo specialist Murray's genre imports. These oft-ignored Mexican movies were staples of 60s TV and weekend movie matinees, beloved memories to many. This disc series was therefore greatly anticipated but a rights issue suddenly surfaced, and as of this writing, Something Weird has placed the DVD project on hold, and has in fact removed many VHS offerings from their catalog. Solutions are being sought, and I for one hope to see the remainder of this collection issued.
The garish cover accurately recalls the cluttered, breathless ads for exploitation programmers of the time: "SEE! Things of Unspeakable Horror!" "How Much SHOCK Can You Take?" "WEIRDOS! We Dare You To See It!" Something Weird has shown incredibly high standards in their film elements before, but have run into a bit of a brick wall here. A warning box on the back covers refers to "technical limitations and film printing conditions of the time", and though the movies look as good as I've ever seen them, with agreeably solid blacks and warm grays, the image is grainy and soft; but never, I would hasten to add, unwatchable.
An informative eight-page pack-in booklet, "The Wonder World of K. Gordon Murray" reprints material from ecco magazine and the official K.Gordon Murray Website it's everything you wanted to know about K. Gordon, but didn't know who to ask.
The usual Something Weird treasure trove of trailers follows, with previews for other import horrors like Black Pit of Dr. M, Creature of the Walking Dead (only Jerry Warren would show you the entire end of a movie in the attempt to get you to pay to see it), Face of the Screaming Werewolf, Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters, and the Vampire's Coffin/Robot vs the Aztec Mummy double feature.
Following is TV spots for Samson vs the Vampire Women, Blood of Nostradamus, The Brainiac, The Curse of the Crying Woman, The Genie of Darkness, The Invasion of the Vampires, The Living Head, The Phantom in the Red House, The Vampire and The Witch's Mirror, all of which only serve to whet your appetite for more Mexican movies.
There is another collection of promotional materials for these movies, backed by music from the always-welcome Dead Elvi, though it should be pointed out that a lot of the kiddie show material is actually from Childhood Productions, Murray's competitors in that venue.
Possibly the biggest losers in the whole collection-in-limbo situation besides consumers and collectors - is Ghoul A Go-Go, a cable access show from New York with a sizable cult following: an episode was to be included on each Murray disc. Ghoul A Go-Go stars three horror archetypes: A vampire (identified as Vlad Tepes), Creighton the Hunchback, and The Invisible Man. Each show features these worthies dancing to garage rock with a bunch of children, comedy sketches, sly references to horror movies, and some old footage familiar to longtime fans of Something Weird, also set to punkish rock. And, oh yeah, a live band. This particular offering is labeled "Episode 3: Spiders" and centers on, um, spiders. And wrestling. It is one of the oddest, and therefore, most entertaining things I've seen in a long time.
I know I'm not the only one holding my breath over the eventual outcome of this rights imbroglio. Dismay has been voiced on several online forums, and I, for one, really desire more Rene Cardona. And more Ghoul A Go-Go. Definitely more Ghoul A Go-Go.
Dr. Freex, 9/21/2003