Terror Tuesday has become so much more eclectic since the arrival of our new host, Joe Ziemba. He’s shown us made for almost nothing regional slashers from Long Island, given us Italian zombies twice, shown us Beach Babes surviving a goofy monster and just last week, we got a Mexican kid’s movie not fit for any child. These are good times my friends, good times. Last Tuesday’s film was the 1962 Mexican film ”Caperucita y Pulgarcito contra los monstrous" in its 1965 US Dubbed version "Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters”.
This was actually the third film in a loose fairy tale trilogy focusing on Little Red and her friends from studio Azteca in Mexico. The first two films were not released in the US so I have no idea what they were about. The third was picked up by K. Gordon Murray, who brought us such wonderful films from South of the Border as “The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy”, “Count Frankenhausen" and a holiday classic in my house, "Santa Claus”. No, not the Santa Claus from the 80s but the weird version where Santa fights the devil every Christmas Eve and only seems to visit maybe six houses in Mexico before the sun comes up and he has to go home or his reindeer will turn to dust. Yeah, it’s that weird.
Equally strange was this film, which opens with narration describing the land known as The Devil’s Domain. Here, wickedness and evil are considered virtues while kindness can compassion are the vilest sins. It is ruled over by the Queen of Badness, though I prefer to think of her as the Wicked Witch of Mexico. She looks almost exactly like the Wicked Queen from Disney’s “Snow White”. As the story begins, we are treated to a view of her throne room, where a strange trial is underway.
Remember how I said this was the third film in a trilogy? Well, apparently in the last film Little Red Riding hood and her friends were able to escape the clutches of the Devil’s Domain thanks to the help of The Big Bad Wolf and a Red-Headed Ogre. The two have been accused of treason by a top-hated wearing vampire very nearly like, but intrinsically different from, Dracula. The jury of their fellow monsters include a pointy-noggined fellow called Carrot Head, a pair of conjoined twins who look nothing alike known as Two-In-One, the Frankenstein Monster, a creepy guy known only as The Kidnapper and the demon who creates all Hurricanes. One could call them a hostile jury.
The trial is a sham and the Wolf and Ogre are found guilty in short order. They are both sentenced to death and taken away but not before the Wolf’s squire, Stinky the Skunk, witnesses what is going on and rushes off to tell Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red is engaged in a game of hide and seek with Tom Thumb. The effects here are… shoddy at best with the image of Tom badly projected onto the scenery in such a way that he appears to be transparent in many of the shots.
Stinky arrives to tell them not just of the trail but of the Queen of Badness’s new plan to get revenge on Little Red and her entire village. She plans to turn everyone into either rats or monkeys. She does this by tainting the water the village needs and then making it so hot that everyone has to drink to beat the heat. By the time Little Red, Tom Thumb and Stinky get home it is far too late and everyone but them have been turned into animals. The monkey costumes are so creepy it would have been less disturbing if they had used real monkeys.
Thus begins the quest to not only rescue the Wolf and the Ogre but to find the Queen of Badness’s philter which contains all of her magic powers and save their friends but not before a visit from the Good Fairy. This Fairy lives on the horizon just as dawn approaches and carries a magic wand made of lit sparklers that I was convinced would light the cheep costumes of the animal people on fire at any second.
Meanwhile, back in the Devil’s Domain, The Ogre and the Wolf are in jail. They keep bickering back and forth and getting into fights that are supposed to be comical but end up just being tiresome and way to drag out the movie’s runtime. The less said about these scenes, the better.
On the subject of things that are no fun, there are songs in this movie, lots of songs. Apparently taking a cue from the House of the Mouse, it was decided that you couldn’t have a proper fairy tale if no one breaks out into song. I have no idea how the songs when in Spanish but the English versions were atrocious. Amusingly though, Little Red’s singing voice sounded like a 40 something year old torch singer pretending to be a little girl. It was hilariously out of place to see a little girl open her mouth and this much deeper, smoky voice pouring forth.
Before you get the impression that this was a nice, kid-friendly film let me tell you, it was not. You know why they call it The Devil’s Domain? Because apparently the Queen of Badness is ruling over it in Satan’s place and she has to call on him every now and then to help her out. There is also a lot of weird violence and implied violence. In one scene, the kids capture the Kidnapper (after Stinky the Skunk sprays him in the face over and over) and tie him upside down from a tree before beating him with a stick like a human piñata. When they defeat the vampire, they drive a wooden stake through his heart and the witch keeps threatening to pluck Little Red’s eyes out with her elongated, talon-like fingernails. That right there kids is one hundred percent pure nightmare fuel for the kiddie set.
I won’t spoil the ending because this really is something you have to see to believe. I wouldn’t even try and call it a good movie by any standard of filmmaking but by jove, it’s entertaining as heck! The shoddy costumes, parade of weird monsters, peppy heroes and weird, surreal tone of the thing just sucked me in and kept me enthralled for the entire 80 some minute runtime. I love a good Mexican monster film and this one delivers in spades and gives me another movie to hunt down as a companion piece to my favorite Christmas movie.
S.O.D. with Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)
the girls of Jean Rollin
Switchblade Sisters, 1975