Friday, March 23, 2007

Las mujeres panteras [The Panther Women]

Las mujeres panteras [The Panther Women]

Las mujeres panteras [The Panther Women]

After a long wait, I finally got to see this entry in the Luchadoras series, and while it is a decent picture, my pleasure was dulled by the realization that Alfredo Salazar had done it again. The plot is a variation on El mundo de los vampiros (which Salazar adapted from a story by others), and large portions of the script were subsequently re-used for Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el Hombre Lobo, right down to some of the dialogue. Consequently, a film I had never seen before was all too familiar.

Add to this a rather abrupt, anti-climactic conclusion, a miscast Ariadne Welter (replacing Lorena Velázquez), and a disappointing performance by "Loco" Valdés in the comic relief slot, and Las mujeres panteras has a couple of strikes against it. But there are a number of positive aspects as well, not the least of which is the presence of Elizabeth Campbell in her last Luchadoras outing. Campbell looks great (as usual), and her character is significantly more active and assertive than Welter. In addition to the titular panther women (all two of them)--who look a little silly in their furry beanies with ears, but one can't expect too much, can one?--there is a big zombie-like monster (Angel Di Stefani, a former Aztec Mummy) who looks appropriately gruesome but doesn't have much to do and dies far too easily. One odd aspect is the inclusion of a masked hero, El Angel, who is a professional wrestler (like Santo) and a crime-fighter (like Santo), and even has a secret lab (like Santo) and drives a convertible sports car (like Santo). His dialogue is dubbed, like Santo. However, I've seen El Santo, and El Angel is not El Santo. He isn't bad, but the script really uses him as just one part of the heroic ensemble--which includes the Luchadoras and Eric del Castillo and Loco Valdés as police agents--and he doesn't have much of a personality. On balance, however, Las mujeres panteras is an entertaining picture, well-paced and with a good amount of action.

The film opens in a secret cave, where high priestess Satanasa gives a quick introduction to the plot (in the guise of an invocation to other members of the cult): 200 years before, their leader Eloím was killed by a member of the Pietra Santa family, wielding the "Druid sword." Over the years, the cult has had its revenge, so that now only 4 members of the Pietra Santa family are left--and soon there will be zero.

The scene shifts to the arena, where Gloria Venus and The Golden Rubí are involved in a tag team match. [Both Welter and Campbell do a fair amount of their own wrestling in the two arena matches shown in the picture. In the second match, Welter's double is rather obvious, since her hair is longer and darker, but Campbell seems to have done most of her own stunts, although several falls are done in extreme long shot so it's hard to tell for sure. However, Campbell's body type is fairly distinctive, and it would have been hard to find a real female wrestler that tall and--relatively--slim.] After the match, the Luchadoras are greeted in their dressing room by Gloria's uncle Professor Pietra Santa and his son Ramón. They go out to a nightclub and watch Tongo perform an exotic dance; afterwards, Ramón introduces her as his fiancee (he's a widower with a young daughter). [Tongolele still looks good as a dancer, but she is obviously considerably older than Genaro Moreno and has a rather hard face; in this scene, she also has about a pound of sequins on each eyelid.]

Full review at:

Ariadna Welter ... Gloria Venus (as Ariadne Welter)
Elizabeth Campbell ... Golden Rubi
Yolanda Montes ... Tongo (as Yolanda Montes 'Tongolele')
Eric del Castillo ... Captain Arturo Diaz
Manuel 'Loco' Valdés ... Leocadio
Eda Lorna ... Eda
Genaro Moreno ... Ramon Pietra Santa (as Jenaro Moreno)
María Douglas ... Satanasa
Jorge Mondragón ... Professor Rafael Petra Santa
Elenita Saldivar ... Paquita Pietra Santa (as Niña Elenita Saldivar)
Nathanael León ... Cain (as Notanael Leon)
Ángel Di Stefani ... Eloim (as Angel D'Stefano)
Betty Grey
Marina Rey
María Guadalupe Delgado ... Female Wrestler (as Guadalupe Delgado)

technorati tags: lucha libre, blue demon, nacho libre, music, jack black, trailers, mexico, rey misterio

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