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Friday, August 7, 2015

Blue Demon vs. The Hellish Brains


Blue Demon vs. The Hellish Brains (aka Blue Demon Contra Cerebros Infernales)
1968
Chano Urueta

A mad doctor is capturing scientists and extracting their brains in order to harness their collective intellectual power. A couple of investigators are on the case… if they can only get away from all the go-go dancing. Blue Demon, masked luchador and possible actual spirit, arrives to help out.

Santo and Blue Demon starred in nine films together. They were occasional rivals in the ring, and reportedly they didn’t really care much for one another in their personal lives. With Santo’s ever increasing popularity came a demand for a higher salary. Producers turned to the slightly less popular (and slightly less expensive) Blue Demon to produce a series of luchador films in the same style that Santo pioneered.

I guess he's happy to see Blue Demon.
This Blue Demon adventure takes the James Bond-lite spy trappings of the early Santo films and amps to them up considerably. The screen is bathed in pastels, go-go dancing, secret lairs, and femme fatales. Mix in the fact that Blue Demon seems to be some kind of supernatural force for good, complete with the ability to turn intangible and teleport (although not very often), and you come away with a luchador film that is livelier than some of the Santo films from the same period.

While I have been pleased to see the Santo films tackle their weird plots with deliberate seriousness, Hellish Brains is much more interested in having fun. It results in a plot that never makes much sense, but it doesn’t really matter since you’re there to watch seductive ladies help a scientist steal brains, and then see everything get wrecked by a guy in a blue mask and cape. Hellish Brains biggest flaw is that there isn’t enough Blue Demon. We’re often left in the hands of a lascivious spy and his put-upon partner. They aren’t wholly unenjoyable to watch, but we are here to see Blue Demon in action.

Blue Demon is good stage fighter, his brawls in the ring and outside of it are well choreographed. Whereas Santo always seems to bear the weight of his heroism, Blue Demon seems to be enjoying everything he is doing. His attitude is buoyed up by the lighter tone of this film, and it creates a unique atmosphere that definitely separates it from the Santo films that I have watched.

Why yes, this was directed by same guy who did The Brainiac (1962). How did you know?
The secondary cast is acceptable. David Reynoso pushes the lecherous spy trope to the edge of being unlikeable but manages to pull it back just enough to be charming. Ana Martin’s role mainly consists of alternating between fawning and being jealous. Dr. Sanders (Noé Murayama) seems pretty reserved for a mad scientist but he thankfully lets loose and becomes a raving maniac by the climax.

Blue Demon always played second best to the overwhelming popularity of Santo and I feel like it pushed both him and those associated with this production to try a little harder. I’m curious to see if other entries in this series are similar. Hellish Brains was an amusing diversion in a long series of Santo reviews. I’m eager to visit some more Blue Demon films, and that’s a testament to the fun of Blue Demon vs.The Hellish Brains.

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