Peligro…! Mujeres en acción/Danger Girls (1969)

Peligro...! Mujeres en acción:Danger Girls (1969)‘A frogwoman is heading towards the mouth of the bay.’

A sinister criminal organisation are planning to blow up an oil refinery in Ecuador, plunging the country into chaos and disrupting the entire region. A special agent is sent to foil the scheme, but little does he know, the villains have put an even more diabolical plan in motion…

Julio Alemán returns as Alex Dinamo; this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ in a direct sequel to ‘SOS Conspiracion Bikini’ (1967). A Mexican ‘Eurospy’ picture? Well, yes, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. Guns, girls and gadgets? Well, yes again, if you leave out the gadgets. More like Blondes, Bikinis and Bad Guys, really. But if that sounds a bit negative, at least the film does lives up to its English Language title, making a serious effort to show that the female of the species is at least as deadly as the male. 

The fight against the evil SOS organisation goes on! This time around they’re under the leadership of cold-hearted Solva (Elizabeth Campbell). Her major strategy seems to be sending frogmen to plant explosives at a major coastal oil installation in Latin America. In reality, however, she’s got something far more villainous in mind; releasing a deadly virus into the water supply of any country she chooses. The germ’s been engineered by her new pet scientist, who arrives at Miami Airport inside a coffin. Luckily, the free world has Servicio International to protect and save: an international espionage network on the side of the angels, featuring super spy Alemán and some rather attractive co-workers.

Peligro...! Mujeres en acción:Danger Girls (1969)

‘What have you done with my bikini?’

As you might imagine, this is pretty formulaic stuff; the ‘Bond; template had become a global phenomenon and inspired more super spy knock-offs than there were minions in jumpsuits waving prop guns around. Deviation from that was not to be considered. The first film in this short series had leaned more toward the comedic, mostly centring on Alemán’s eye for the ladies, but this sequel is played almost totally straight.

Alemán is no longer saddled with a jealous girlfriend, although he does seem close to colleague Alma Delia Fuentes (‘Island of The Dinosaurs’ (1967), ‘Blue Demon: Destructor of Spies’ (1968)). Are they in a relationship? It’s not really clear because writer-director René Cardona Jr doesn’t establish the identities of any of his characters beyond generic ‘good guy/bad guy’ labels. In fact, there are so many anonymous cast members running about knocking each other off that the killings have no dramatic impact whatsoever and often seem meaningless in terms of the plot. 

One of the film’s main problems is that it plays out over a running time that approaches two hours and, without big action scenes, stunts or a compelling storyline, it is hard for an audience to stay engaged. There’s also a suspicion that this may have been filmed as two TV episodes. The oil refinery thread is resolved around the halfway mark with a very protracted shootout on a beach. Both Alemán and Funetes are wounded in the exchanges but, of course, they aren’t badly hurt. If there’s one thing the movies have taught us, it’s that a bullet in the shoulder is a mere scratch, which can be easily overcome by wearing your arm in a sling for a couple of minutes. But it’s only after these scenes that the virus storyline begins in earnest, giving the film the definite feel of a game of two halves. 

Peligro...! Mujeres en acción:Danger Girls (1969)

‘Is it time for lunch yet? I’m getting cold.’

There is plenty of gunfire though, with quite the troop of young ladies running around the glamorous hot spots of San Juan, Guayaquil and Miami firing off automatic weapons without due care and attention. This might surprise an audience in a film this old, but Mexican cinema was never shy of letting the girls get their hands dirty. Witness the wonderful ‘Wrestling Women’ of the early 1960s (one of whom was played by Campbell) and their tussles with gangsters, mad scientists and the ancient Aztec undead.

But, before you start applauding the film’s feminist credentials it’s worth pointing out that few of the girls get any sort of character to play (let alone develop) and for the vast majority of the running time, they’re all dressed in bikinis. This includes agent Barbara Angely who runs about on a beach for simply ages trying to put on her scuba gear while being shot at from a low-flying aircraft. Rather typically, the sequence becomes yet another reminder for the necessity of training your minions properly. They can’t hit her despite multiple fly-bys and the obvious difficulties she has hauling the heavy equipment down to the sea. Of course, once she’s eventually beneath the waves, we get the obligatory slow-moving undersea battle featuring frogmen with spear guns and stock footage sharks. Did anyone really find the underwater sequences in ‘Thunderball’ (1965) that exciting?

There’s little creativity or invention in this ‘by-the-numbers’ Bond. After all, SOS stands for ‘Secret Organisational Service’. Still, you don’t see all that many movies where the most significant part of the budget was probably spent on swimwear. 

Operacion 67/Operation 67 (1967)

Operacion 67 (1967)‘As the chief of our organisation, I would like to say that our plan for world domination will proceed.’

After duplicating U.S. currency plates whilst in transit, a secret organisation plans to wreck the world economy by flooding the market with millions of new bills. A team of two top secret agents are assigned the task of foiling the scheme and taking down the villainous group once and for all…

So, who is this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ running around the glamorous capitals of continental Europe, tangling with guns, girls and gadgets? Why it’s our old friend, the silver-masked Mexican wrestler El Santo! Only his travel itinerary is limited to Hong Kong, the gadgets are just exploding wrist-watches and the babe action is mostly left to Jorge Rivero. Yes, our silver-masked hero has a partner, and it’s clear that he’s no sidekick, the two being equals throughout. This means that Rivero gets as much solo screen time, something which probably didn’t sit too well with fans of the great man.

Our two heroes are the best Interpol has to offer but, as the film opens, they’re just catching some rays on the sun terrace with their respective girlfriends. El Santo keeps his mask on throughout, of course, which I guess saves on sunscreen, but probably wasn’t all that comfortable. An emergency call comes in, the babes exit stage right never to be seen again, and a hip 60’s soundtrack blasts into action (just dig those cool horns, man!)

Operacion 67 (1967)

‘Don’t worry, Annette will never recognise me like this.’

In charge of the organisation’s dastardly plot is Elizabeth Campbell, keeping her minions in line via the medium of the afore-mentioned exploding timepieces. These are somehow ‘welded’ to her agents and can’t be removed (unless its convenient for the plot). In the closing stages, she sets out to seduce Rivero and falls in love with him! This development really looks as if it’s been tacked on at the last minute, maybe so more glamour shots could be included in the film’s trailer.

As per usual in these kinds of shenanigans, the villains target our heroes right from the get-go (even before they’ve been briefed on their mission) and their frequent efforts at assassination provide the clues required to break the case. After all, Santo and Rivero weren’t getting anywhere on their own. Their brilliant investigative strategy revolves around the inevitability that two of the gang will put their funny money into circulation by betting on major sporting events; specifically, the tag-team bout in which they are taking part! I have to acknowledge that this is an original plot development, if just a tad implausible.

Operacion 67 (1967)

‘You and whose army?’

Unusually for a Santo film, there’s full frontal nudity (a dancer doing a ‘geisha girl’ routine in a nightclub) and seemingly a more substantial budget than usual. Father and son directing team Rene Cardona and Rene Cardona Jr even throw in a vague homage to Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’ featuring Rivero in a car, that comes with a handy bazooka.

Rivero’s handsome looks, good physique and an easy screen personality eventually landed him a plumb role opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ ‘Rio Lobo’ (1970). Later, he co-starred with Charlton Heston and James Coburn in ‘The Last Hard Men’ (1976), but his star faded quickly, and, by the start of the next decade, he was top-lining Lucio Fulci’s dreary sword and sorcery adventure ‘Conquest’ (1983). Although American by birth, Campbell acted almost exclusively in Mexican cinema, finding national recognition for her role as the Golden Rubi, one of the ‘Wrestling Women’ in the popular series that also starred Lorena Velásquez. After a series of other leading roles in films of the 1960s, including ‘The Chinese Room’ (1968) for Albert Zugsmith and Mexican ‘Eurospy’ film ‘Peligro…! Mujeres en Acción’ (Danger Girls) (1969), she left the country to pursue her career in New York and dropped off the radar completely.

This is one of El Santo’s more technically accomplished and well-presented features, although it does suffer from a very poor, small-scale climax. But, for all that, it’s more engaging that some of his other efforts at the spying game.

El Santo and Rivero were paired again in direct sequel ‘El Tesoro De Moctezuma’/The Treasure of Montezuma’ (1968).

Planet of the Female Invaders/El planeta de las mujeres invasoras (1966)

Planet_of_The_Female_Invaders_(1966)‘Only the oldest die, the children will live.’

A young boxer throws a fixed fight and he and his girlfriend are chased to a local fairground by the mob boss and his henchmen. The pursuit ends on a spaceship ride run by two women in silver dresses and pointy hats. Rather surprisingly, it turns out that the ride is real and everyone is whisked off to a low budget alien planet populated by women only.

Mexican Science Fiction comedy drama, which attempts a slightly more serious tone than usual amidst the inevitable tin foil trappings, and was a sequel to ‘Gigantes Planetarios/Planetary Giants (1966). The evil alien queen wants humans for their lungs due to oxygen-related difficulties! However, if there’s one thing that movies have taught us it’s that when there are twins involved one will be good and one will be evil. So, it is here, with her nice twin sister opposing the plan, and lobbying for a more peaceful solution.

The best news here by some distance is that these alien twins are played by the gorgeous and talented Lorena Velásquez. Her queen is haughty and imperious; her sister sweet and evanescent. Velasquez also played ‘Gloria Venus’ in the ‘Wrestling Women’ series, and there’s even better news for the audience because her tag team partner Elisabeth Bennett (‘The Golden Rubi’) is also here! She plays one of the Queen’s agents on Earth, although she doesn’t get much of a chance to shine. Also there’s no opportunity for the women to show off their grappling skills.

If audiences can ignore the Velásquez factor (not easy!) there’s not a great deal else to get excited about anyway. The film is slow, talky and the plot is paper thin. The alien world is the usual mixture of an old quarry and a few sparsely decorated rooms and corridors in the alien ‘city’. Back on Earth, the Queen’s agents fall out as Campbell begins to have qualms about their mission. The ‘comedy’ is mainly provided by chief gangster, who keeps walking into doors. Rather surprisingly, it’s not even funny the first time.


She hadn’t quite figured out how to use human vehicles.

The story is predictable and hopelessly contrived. Production values aren’t high and there’s no real build up to the rather half-hearted finale. The film also lacks the skewed ‘anything goes’ mentality of many Mexican science fiction and horror pictures of the era. It might just as well have been a straight remake of a generic American movie from the 1950s, such as the gloriously dumb ‘Cat Women of the Moon’ (1954) or the Zsa Zsa Gabor stinker ‘Queen of Outer Space’ (1958)

However, it is an improvement on the previous film, which was a weary trudge through a sub ‘Flash Gordon’ (1936) adventure without any of the fun or cheesy style. Several of the cast return here, including Guillermo Murray as heroic scientist Daniel Wolf, Adriana Roel as his girlfriend, and Rogelio Guerra and José Ángel Espinosa ‘Ferrusquilla’ bring the (banal) comedy. The delightful Maura Monti is also featured. 

But this is Velásquez’s show, as she easily eclipses the rest of the cast and effortlessly rises above the unremarkable material with her dual portrayal. We get the cruel ice queen in a long silver dress, and her goody two shoes sister in a much shorter one that shows plenty of leg. I’m sold.

Slightly lame shiny space adventure with the benefit of a leading lady who deserved much better.

Doctor of Doom (1963)

Doctor of Doom_(1963)‘Tremble, Gloria Venus! Vendetta, who I created for my use, is your destruction!’

A mad scientist experiments with human brain transplants, having already successfully transferred a gorilla’s brain into a man. He uses the ape man to kidnap a series of women, who inevitably die on the operating table. However, his latest choice of subject is the sister of wrestler Gloria Venus. This turns out to be a serious tactical error on his part as Gloria has just teamed up in a tag team with the Golden Rubi and together they take no shit from anyone…

Good afternoon, grapple fans!  More wonderfully insane action from south of the border with our favourite athletes of the square circle; the Mexican Wrestling Women. Here we get to see the first meeting of ‘Arizona Cyclone’ The Golden Rubi (the lovely Elizabeth Campbell) and Gloria Venus (the even lovelier Lorena Velásquez, here with a great hairdo). They’re BFF’s almost immediately, moving in together within 5 minutes of being introduced. And, no, it’s not like that! Gloria is soon cozying up to the handsome detective that’s investigating her sister’s disappearance while Rubi apparently likes his short, balding partner!

The villain of the piece is Roberto Cañedo. To begin with, he appears to be a serious, sober scientist, albeit with some rather dubious and obscure goals. However, he doesn’t just get a little bit testy when his plans are thwarted, he throws all the toys right out of the pram instead. In no time at all, he’s cackling like a madman and transferring his gorilla man’s strength into a new kidnap victim to create female wrestler Vendetta and he’s put just one thought in her head: kill Gloria! So the Doc pulls on a silver mask, becomes her manager and arranges the match!

Although the pace is fast and action plentiful, to be fair the story is a little hackneyed. But any shortfalls in that department are more than made up for by our feisty heroines. They go toe to toe with the Doctor’s goons at every opportunity and Velásquez certainly has a mean right. There’s no flashy martial arts combat here; the girls are just plain hard! Mess with them at your peril!

Doctor of Doom_(1963)

Girl power!

Of course this might not seem remarkable now; but fighting women didn’t appear on US screens until the 1970s and they were heroines in the Blaxploitation genre, not mainstream cinema and most were using firearms rather than fists. But there’s no such qualification here; our heroines work out at the local gym and when some muscle-bound lunkhead tries to lift their training equipment, all the other girls simply beat the crap out of him!

This is one of those rare instances where a sequel is better than the first movie; ‘Wrestling Women Vs. The Aztec Mummy’ (1964) surpassing this one in every department, but even so this is a highly enjoyable romp down Mexico way.

There were three more movies in the series, although only the first two featured Gloria and Rubi and the second of those had someone else playing Gloria (completely unacceptable!) The other was ‘Las Lobas Del Ring’ (1965) and featured Campbell and Velásquez squaring up against a cadre of villainous female wrestlers, rather than monsters or mad scientists. Rather a shame, if you ask me…