O Escorpian Escarlate (1990)

Rubens Francisco Lucchetti, who had once wrote for comics and pulp magazines, made this movie to honor Brazilian heroes like Morcego Nergo and O Sombra, with the name of the movie’s villain — The Scarlet Scorpion — taken from a radio series Lucchetti created that was based on Fu Manchu. There’s also Madame Ming, who is pretty much Madame Dragon from Terry and the Pirates mixed with Fu Manchu’s daughter Sumuru (who is also in the Jess Franco movies The Million Eyes of Sumuru and The Girl from Rio). The hero of this movie, Anjo, was a character created and played by radio actor Álvaro Aguiar for the radio series As Aventuras do Anjo, which was broadcast by Rádio Nacional from 1948 to 1965.

This movie is all about just how important radio was to Brazilians, as the public loves the show The Adventure of The Angel so much that its creator has become a millionaire and is about to make a movie about it. Fashion designer Gloria Campos dreams of meeting the announcer and creator of the show as she imagines the adventures come to life in her mind, yet the Scarlet Scorpion may be more real than anyone can imagine.

There’s also a striptease by Roberta Close, the first transgender model to pose for the Brazilian edition of Playboy. Shot a year after her gender confirmation surgery, Roberta fought the government for eight years to legally be female and has also walked the red carpet for Thierry Mugler, Guy Laroche and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Director Ivan Cardosa also made A Werewolf In the Amazon with Paul Naschy and the Coffin Joe documentary The Universe of Mojica Marins. He also made several of his own horror movies before this, such as The Secret of the Mummy and The Seven Vampires.

Even without knowing much about the history of Brazil’s superheroes and radio shows, this is a fun movie that mixes fantasy and reality for entertaining effect.

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