DOCTOR OF DOOM
(aka ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WRESTLING WOMEN
VS. THE AZTEC APE,
WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC APE)
(1965), B/W, 79 minutes
Presented by Young America Productions
Produced at Soundlab, Coral Gables, Fla.
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!
This wonderful film is the closest thing to an all-out (unintentional?) comedy that Murray and Company ever mounted. We start with an amazing source film, and add some incredible dialog and cartoony voices, adding up to a true psychotronic gem.
In addition, the Mad Doctor’s brutal experimentation on innocent female victims is akin to serial sex killings, and is probably the closest that the Murray horror films ever came to addressing “adult subject matter”. This is, in its own goofy way, very strong stuff.
We know we’re in trouble when we open with a great, very short teaser: a woman is strangled by a hairy ape man as two goons watch. Then we cut to women wrestling over the credits, and we wonder: are we in cult film heaven, or what?
Our lovely Amazon heroines, Gloria Venus and the Golden Rubi, are strangely beautiful comic book protagonists straight out of a lost era, and are wonderful to watch.
When Gloria and Rubi instantly move in together upon first meeting, our first thought is: butch lesbians? This delicious sideline is left unexplored, but for a marvelous scene in which the two girls sleep in the same room (separate beds) in filmy nighties. Pretty intimate, I’d say…
The doofy Professor Wright is an hilarious character, dubbed like a cross between a wheezy Ronald Coleman and a drunken James Mason. Of course, when we realize he is also the Mad Doctor, we find we’ve been tricked twice, for the dubbed voice of the Mad Doc is completely different! This makes sense only in Murray land, for what villain would use a different voice when he’s alone with his comrades-in-crime! Silly stuff indeed!
And then there’s “Gomar, the Ape Man”, an amazing sexual brute who is both funny and genuinely menacing, in a sweaty sort of way.
The dubbing in this film is priceless, and enigmatic as well. A news boy yells something which sounds suspiciously like “Aztec Ape Strikes Again! Son of a Bitch!” Whaa? Also, Tommy the cop shouting at his deaf grandmother over the phone is a purely perfect psychotronic moment.
As is often the case in these great films, logic takes a seat WAY in the back of the bus. Wright as the Mad Doctor is hard enough to believe, but why would he orchestrate his own hold-up at gunpoint to get Mike and Tommy into trouble? Schizo, to say the least. Makes NO sense, and we LOVE it that way!
The music score in the film is fantastic, a real eclectic mix of evocative mood music, dramatic cues, cool jazzy music, strange “boom-chicka-boom” riffs, and some bonafide rock-n-roll instrumentals! Dizzying and delightful.
The wrestling finale, with Gloria and French Super-Robot Mary Carm — uh, I mean VENDETTA, is stunning, both exciting and absurd in equal measure, a real jaw-dropper and a real crowd-pleaser. Vintage stock shots of a real-life Mexican fight audience are very cool as well.
Overall, DOCTOR OF DOOM (which was blessed with a poetic retitling, as opposed to the usual straightforward translation) may be Murray’s most entertaining horror film, for many reasons, some even intentional!
* Prolific director Rene Cardona remade this genre classic a few years later, in color and with alot of gore, as LA HORRIPLANTE BESTIA HUMANA (aka NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES). It featured open heart surgery, liberal nudity, and a monster strikingly similar to Gomar the Ape Man! It was released to US drive-ins in the mid-70’s, on a groovy double-bill with the wacky Argentinian horror gem, FEAST OF FLESH (aka DEADLY ORGAN), by Murray colleague Jerald Intrator.
* (updated 02-14-06) Thanks to a terrific new book we just received, “Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold” by Kevin Heffernan, (2004, Duke University Press), we have been able to update the U.S. television release date for this Murray horror title to 1965. The appendices to this study of the horror film in America, circa 1955-1968, include complete listings of syndication feature film packages from many distributors, including American International Television, who subleased the K. Gordon Murray film catalog under the title THRILLERS FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It seems that 1965 was the watershed year for genre film sold to television, with a veritable flood of titles released by both domestic and foreign distribs.
* (effective 05-01-03) After a very brief window of availability, this long-sought K. Gordon Murray title is once again out of print, due to international copyright issues. Used video tapes of this title may be found on online video dealers and auction sites. Stay tuned for further developments!
* “Armando Silvestre, who plays the handsome detective Mike Henderson, also appeared in the final film in the Luchadoras series: LA HORRIPLANTE BESTIA HUMANA (NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES, 1968), also directed by Cardona. Ironically, in the latter picture Silvestre portrays the mad doctor who, this time around, transplants a gorilla’s heart into the body of his own son, who’s dying of leukemia.” – Gomar Douglas
* For an excellent and informative online review of DOCTOR OF DOOM, visit David Wilt’s Mexican Film Pages.