El monstruo de los volcanes (1963)

(literal title: The Monster of the Volcano)

Honorable Mention

Welcome to Mexico’s first Yeti movie.

And it proves to be pretty much what you’d expect: brave hero, beautiful young girl, familiar horror elements we’ve seen in other non-Mexican films, and, of course, a big, silly-looking monster.

A group of engineers are trying to construct a “funicular” (I assume a cable railway, but it isn’t entirely clear) in a remote, mountainous town.  They’ve heard the legend that the Aztecs had an incredible treasure hidden somewhere nearby, only they left a guardian of some sort to watch over it.

None of them really believe this, until it starts killing their workers.

Meantime, a mysterious master criminal brought in a gang to try to steal the medallion which supposedly contains a map to the treasure.  It’s owned by a local doctor who is a descendant of Monteczuma, whose daughter, Lupe, keeps sleepwalking off to the creature’s cave high in the mountains, where he plans to add her to his harem of beautiful wives…

Somehow this one reminds me a bit of the classic Universal Horror, The Mummy, as we have a girl falling under the spell of the creature, which plans to make her its bride.   It presents us with the striking — and beatifully staged — image of the monster in his cave, standing high above the Lupe, with beautiful girls standing motionless in little niches and an empty one waiting for her.  This is a decidedly unusual Yeti as it clearly has great mental powers and Lupe is totally under his power when he puts her in a trance.  However, our first glimpses of the creature are fairly traditional, as it appears for a moment, then disappears when it starts killing the workers.

However, by the end, we see an awful lot of the creature, and not just during those dream sequences.

And that suit is just awful.

It is big, it is white, and it is very fluffy.

And it barely looks like it has a face.

As to what it is, well the problem with Bigfoot and the Yeti is that there has always been a bit of an overlap with the supernatural — yes, sometimes it is just a big animal, sometimes it has ties to aliens, sometimes they are super-evolved members of a parallel race, and they’ve even been known to be robots.

Clearly this thing was put there to guard the treasure by the Aztecs and there are definitely hints of the supernatural.  But when it shows up, the score switches to electronic music right out of Forbidden Planet, and in the end it proves not to be quite as superhuman and supernatural as it has seemed all along.

Because it dies…

In one of the silliest, Three Stoges moments imaginable.

Ignore the fact that El Monstruo de los volcanoes was made in the Sixties.  The story revolving around the creature, the images of it in the cave, its hypnotic powers is very much like the classic Universal Horrors, even if we have a fairly routine gangster interruption and a fairly mundane sort of small town setting.  I’ll confess I liked this one, but then my expectations were rather low.

And, at least, it didn’t end like the sequel, where the creature turns out to have been a guy in a big, white, fluffy suit from the very beginning.

As to what the creature is, a supernatural entity which dies in an accident, or a living creature kept alive for centuries, or a big robot, well I don’t suppose it really matters, not as long as El monstruo de los volcanes gives us a few monster thrills along the way.

And a few moments of unintentional comedy…

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