Doctor Satan Vs Black Magic / Dr Satán y la Magia Negra (1968)

Doctor Satan Vs Black Magic / Dr Satan Y La Magia Negra (1968)‘Zombies? Disgusting!’

Arch-criminal Doctor Satan is brought back from the dead and sent to Earth by the King Demon to foil the plans of a vampire lord who is working for Lucifer. Their conflict centres on possession of Professor Sorensen’s formula for turning base metal into gold and, after the vampire’s men murder Sorensen, it escalates into a fight to the finish…

Agreeably silly comic strip romp from Mexico featuring the return of Joaquin Cordero in the title role as criminal mastermind, Dr Arozemena. Original film ‘Doctor Satan’ (1966) had found him running a counterfeiting scam to fund his experiments with zombies, but here he crosses swords with the undead Noé Murayama after both are resurrected from the afterlife by feuding devils.

Mexican cinema of the 1960s was a fairly strange place to be, what with the exploits of masked grappler El Santo, and a seemingly never-ending roll call of aliens, vampires, werewolves and monsters. The film is a fairly typical example of this ridiculous, but entertaining, output, with an outlandish plot, cardboard characters, and plenty of action delivered with heavy gothic touches. The Eastmancolor photography is painfully garish, the sound mix is hideous and the SFX are of the rubber bat, ‘stop’& start the camera’ variety.

There are some pleasing aspects, though. Cordero enslaves two pretty young women to be his zombie sidekicks and they sleep in coffins (for some reason) in a cave behind his laboratory. There’s an amusing piece of role reversal where one of them chases Nurayama’s henchman through the woods and overtakes him when he trips over his own feet and falls over. There’s also a nice bit of business with a killing at a tea drinking ceremony. The highlight of the movie comes when Nurayama bites one of Codero’s assistants and finds her zombie flesh not to his taste.

Doctor Satan Vs Black Magic / Dr Satan Y La Magia Negra (1968)

His parents should never have got him that chemistry set for Xmas,,,

The proper authorities get very little screen-time and barely influence events in the story. Considering that both protagonists are working for dark forces, employ roughly the same methods and have the same objectives, it’s hard to care about the outcome, but that probably wasn’t something that concerned director Rogelio A González too much. He’s happy to jump from one silly set-piece to the next, with audience sympathy far more likely to reside with Nayamura (who seems to be having far too much fun!) rather than the dour Codero.

There’s little to make this stand out from the eccentric output of Mexico’s film industry of the time, but it’s still worth seeking out if you’ve been seduced by their rogue’s gallery of wrestlers, mad scientists and monsters.

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