Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Salvador Zea as ‘el Vampiro’, Capulina contra los Monstruos (1974)

Your Daily Dracula – Salvador Zea as ‘el Vampiro’, Capulina contra los Monstruos (1974)

Mexican comedian Gaspar Henaine had the gap teeth of Terry-Thomas, the moustache of Ernie Kovacs, the tubbiness of Jonathan Winters, the sped-up running of Benny Hill and the arm-waving skid-turns of Charlie Chaplin down pat … but his persona of El Capulina must translate to something like Little Unfunny Git, because he’s one of those purportedly comic man-children it’s hard to put up with for a whole film.  Even the pack of real kids who hang out with him do a routine about how everyone thinks he’s a molester (maybe my Spanish isn’t up to following this, but that seems to be the gist of it.  Earlier in his film career, he’d starred in Capulina contra los Vampiros and Capulina contra las Momias, but here he goes up against a quarter of Universal/Aurora hobby kit knock-offs.

A ranting mad scientist (Hector Andremar) whose slinky assistant Mephistophela (Irlanda Mora) models an astonishing pair of salmon loon pants intends to bring to life four monsters and needs the brainwaves of a schlub who sells magazines in the park to do it – though Capulina also seems to have a comic-magazine of his own.  On Halloween, after a chase through a cemetary with a pair of dwarves, Capulina is captured and hooked up to a brain machine … which vivifies: ‘Frankestein’ (Guillermo Amador), with platform boots, shortened sleeves and trouser-legs and a shaggy hippy do on top of a Glenn Strange-look monster face … el Vampiro (Salvador Zea), with a top hat, sash and cape but no moustache (though he definitely seems to be taking cues from John Carradine rather than Lugosi) … la momia (Juan Garzia), who at one point has half his bandages unwound as used as a rope so some of the gang can escape from a second-storey prison cell … and a werewolf (Marcos E. Contreras), who wears a loud check ulster a bit like Henry Hull in The WereWolf of London, has faceful of fur and fangs a lot like Matt Willis in The Return of the Vampire, and a wagging tail stuck out of the seat of his pants.  For some reason, Frankestein, the vampire and the wolf man respectively litter their Spanish dialogue with German, Italian and English phrases.

The foursome stalk around town, terrorising a takeaway taco place where Capulina eats onions and breathes fumes at them.  Then the scientist needs to boost their scariness and captures Capulina, that pack of kids, and Capulina’s pin-up-look nanny girlfriend (Gloriella).  Capulina attempts to thwart the science process by chanting about chocolate doughnuts, and an electric shock turns the villain into a turkey (why not?).  The monsters defeat the local cops and toughs but are dispelled by Capulina chanting about pastries, though they get to speak out from magazine covers.  It’s not one of the better Mexican comedians vs monsters movies, though the monsters themselves don’t look too bad.

To be fair, Henaine’s Capulina act was flagging in the mid-70s.  He began in a double act with Marco Antonio Campos (billed as Viruta) on a TV show in 1956, made many Viruta y Capulina comedies in the ‘60s before striking out on a run of team-ups with other name characters (including Santo contra Capulina – a bout we doubt would last very long).  Two years after this, he tried straight acting (he’s in Rene Cardona’s Andes plane crash exploitation picture Survive!) then brought back Capulina and stuck with the character till 1999.  Written and produced by Alfredo Zacarias, later director of The Bees and Demonoid; directed by Miguel Morayta, who made El Vampiro Sangriento and La Invasion de los Vampiros in 1963.


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