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Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Caperucita y Pulgarcito contra los monstruos (1962)

It’s pantomime season, so … Quintín Bulnes, Caperucita y Pulgarcito contra los monstruos (1962).

This is the third in a Mexican series of Caperucita (Little Red Riding Hood) movies, which began with La Caperucita Roja (1960) and Caperucita y Sus Tres Amigos (1961).  Child actress María Gracia reprises her role as the intrepid young goody-deliverer, with Manuel ‘Loco’ Valdes returning as Senor Lobo, aka the Big Bad Wolf (sometimes, the Once-Wicked Wolf), whose look is at once threadbare and nightmarish – baggy fury onesie, human eyes, wolfy snout.  Also held over are Red’s faithful while dog and Lobo’s small-person-in-a-fur-suit sidekick El Zorillo/Stinky the Skunk (Santanón).  It’s also a sequel to Pulgarcito (1958), a Mexican version of Tom Thumb rushed out in the same year as the George Pal/Russ Tamblyn movie, though miniature Pulgarcito (Cesário Quezedas) only has a few scenes in his usual tiny form (the effects are pretty good) before a Glinda the Good-type fairy with a halo of sparklers makes him regular-size so he can pitch in with the crisis.

Indeed, this manages to be a massive multi-universe crossover set in a fairytale world taken from Middle Europe via Disney with a lot of added Spanish-Mexican elements.  In the opening scene, La Reina Bruja (Ofelia Guilmáin) – who looks like a mash-up of the Wicked Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Wicked Witch of Oz – and her daffier sister La Bruja Tontina (Magda Donato) assemble a court of bad guys from any number of franchises, including a shaggy-haired Frankenstein Monster, siamese twin brute jailers, a stiff but flame-breathing dragon, a wrestler-type with a stooges haircut and hurricane breath, and a weird big-jawed, bushy-browed conehead.  There’s even a robot who looks like the one recently trashed by the wrestling women in their series.  I glimpsed a mummy in there, but the Wolf Man gets left out – presumably so as not to upstage Caperucita’s regular sparring partner.

The top-hatted and caped ‘el vampiro’ (Quintín Bulnes, who played a vampire Count that same year in Frankestein, el Vampiro y Compañía) leads a chorus of monsters in singing a list of charges (yes, it’s a musical too) against Senor Lobo and El Ogro (José Elías Moreno), the red-headed baddie from Pulgarcito.  Having generally let the evil side down by allowing the pesky heroes to triumph in earlier films, the wolf and the ogre squabble or get mistreated in jail for most of this one (we even get a comedy waterboarding sequence).  The witches cast a spell that turns water into wine, with a side-effect of transforming peasants who drink it into monkeys or mice, and a child-catcher type sets out to bag all the local kids.  The day is really saved by the skunk, who defects to the good guys’ side – and even sees off the child-catcher with a squirt of deadly fart gas – and corrals the somewhat passive Caperucita and Pulgarcito into rescuing their former foes – I’m guessing this wolf didn’t eat anyone’s abuela – and restoring the peasants’ humanity.

There’s an entertainment factor to its colourful weirdness – and the moments that presume audiences will get laughs out of humiliation and violence are telling.  Some of the characters – that fucking skunk – are apparently designed to get on your nerves, but the slapdash, crude, yet occasionally effective make-up jobs on the crowd of villains (that conehead, especially) are fascinatingly odd in that Famous Monsters of Filmland mystery photo tradition.

Directed by Roberto Rodríguez.


The whole thing (in Spanish) is on Youtube.

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