Ladrón de Cadáveres (1957)

This movie actually played in the U.S. as a bad translation — but one more apt to get people into the theaters perhaps thinking they were seeing another film — The Body Snatcher. It was inspired Universal’s Frankenstein and was an attempt to take as much of that film as possible while avoiding any potential lawsuit.

Between this film and El Vampiro, Fernando Mendez was able to usher in what many see as a golden age of Mexican cinema.

Police Captain Carlos Robles has a problem. Someone is killing Mexico’s greatest athletes and he doesn’t know that it’s scientist Don Panchito. Turns out that Don is slicing the heads of these sports stars open, plopping in an animal brain and conquering death itself. Who knew it was so easy?

Robles gets pro wrestler Guillermo Santana (Wolf Ruvinskis) to act as bait. There’s a great wrestling training scene here that shows just how hard hitting 1950’s lucha was, probably due to how much harder the rings themselves were.

The plan goes wrong and Santanta is now transformed into an ape. So Evil Don does what mad scientists in Mexican movies do best: he sends him to the wrestling arena with a mask on and tells him to kick some culo.

Don’t ask how the monkey brain keeps his personality or why he’s wrestling, just go with the flow.

Santana goes wild, breaking free of his programming somewhat to kill Don, kidnap an old girlfriend and lead police on a chase across the rooftops of Mexico CIty before his best friend has to gun him down.

This is 80-minutes of sheer delight. You really owe it to yourself to track this down, because it’s an absolute blast.

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