El Enmascarado de Plata/The Silver-Masked Man (1954)

‘Just get up for a rabbit shot!’

A series of seemingly natural disasters sweep across Mexico, including a raging hurricane and flooding. These have been engineered by a masked supervillain who plans to hold the government to ransom. Fortunately, a wrestling crime fighter is out to thwart his dastardly plan…

Important early film in the development of the Mexican wrestling genre from director René Cardona and writer José G. Cruz. Originally released as a serial in the United States, it was trimmed to a two-hour feature for domestic audiences, and it’s only this version that survives today.

It’s a hard life being the ‘Man in the Silver Mask’. Fulfilling evil plans for world domination is a complicated business, after all, and it costs money, lots of it. So, not only do you have to invent and operate diabolical machines of destruction, but you also need to run a criminal gang to obtain the necessary cash. And that means planning robberies and dodging the police (not a problem) and masked wrestler El Médico Asesino (not so easy). Yes, a big, muscly man in doctor’s scrubs is his nemesis and the film’s hero. But, hang on, where is El Santo? Wasn’t the star of more than 50 movies, many directed by Cardona, known as ‘El Enmascarado de Plata’? And wasn’t he a hero? Of course he was. So what’s going on here?

Appearing in the ring as the silver-masked El Santo, by the end of the 1940s, Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta was arguably the most popular wrestler in Mexico. But his character was a villain, and it was necessary to turn him into a hero to capitalise on that success. Part of this process involved a series of comic books launched in 1952 and written by José G. Cruz. These were highly popular, and a movie seemed the next logical step. However, Santo passed on the project for reasons that seem unrecorded. Cruz was less than impressed with the decision and so tweaked his original screenplay to turn ‘El Enmascarado de Plata’ back into a villain. Another real-life wrestler, El Médico Asesino, was brought in to play himself as the story’s hero.

As we join the action, the villain’s diabolical plan is already in progress with the country devastated by his hurricane. Curiously, though, rather than blackmailing the authorities immediately, instead he focuses on masterminding a series of robberies. Perhaps forward planning isn’t one of his strengths, and operating his machines of immaculate destruction has taken him over his allocated budget. They do appear again later on, but then he only uses them to demolish a building, so I guess stories of their dreadful power may have been a little exaggerated.

These world-shaking events are followed by journalists Alfredo (Victor Junco) and Julio (Crox Alvarado), who are not only fighting over the next scoop but also the hand of the beautiful Elena (Aurora Segura). Both are strangely absent from the action every time El Médico Asesino saves the day, and the audience is invited to guess which one is beneath the mask and surgeon’s scrubs. Our grappling hero also gets himself a perky sidekick in the form of street urchin Freckles, played by the director’s son, René Cardona Jr.

But then, gasp!, things get weird when El Enmascarado de Plata dies halfway through the film! When he’s unmasked, it turns out that he’s just the head waiter from shady nightclub ‘The Paradise’. Cruz having another poke at El Santo for turning down the film, perhaps? Yes, the old silver mask was only the frontman for the real mastermind, the impressively masked El Tigre (you can’t have too many masked characters in a film). The arch-enemies lock horns for a final confrontation in the gripping conclusion. Who will win, and which of our heroes will Segura choose as her suitor (a somewhat less gripping outcome).

Leaving aside the slightly convoluted genesis of the film, this is an interesting halfway point between the US serials of classic Hollywood and the Mexican wrestling films to follow. From the former, we get the usual round of fistfights, narrow escapes and kidnappings, but there are fewer actual cliffhangers, which presumably made it easier to cut down the original episodes into a coherent feature. Fans of the Mexican films to follow will recognise the obsession with masks and secret identities (three!), although they may feel a little short-changed by the prioritising of fisticuffs over wrestling action. Despite being a real-life fighter in the square ring, El Médico Asesino seems a little slow and awkward compared to the more athletic fighters that followed in his footsteps.

Although the film does contain some genuinely enjoyable moments, it feels a fair bit longer than its two-hour running time as the story never really develops. This was quite probably down to its origins in the serial format, but the endless round of captures, escapes and repetitive fight choreography becomes a little wearing long before the final curtain.

It’s perhaps not surprising that El Médico Asesino made way for other more charismatic screen luchadors, although he did appear in all-star wrestling cavalcade ‘The Champions of Justice’ (1971). Cardona went on to a spectacularly long career in cult cinema with dozens of noteworthy features to his name, including ‘Santa Claus’ (1959), ‘Wrestling Women vs The Aztec Mummy/Las luchadoras contra la momia’ (1964), ‘Santo and Dracula’s Treasure/Santo en El tesoro de Drácula’ (1969), ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ (1969), and ‘Santo and the Vengeance of the Mummy/Santo en la venganza de la momia’ (1972). His son soon moved behind the camera to join him and has a very similar directing pedigree. Spy thriller ‘SOS Conspiracion Bikini’ (1967) was followed by feline horror ‘The Night of a Thousand Cats/La noche de los mil gatos’ (1972), Jaws ‘homage’ ‘Tintorera’ (1977) and ‘El ataque de los pájaros’ (1987) a film about killer chickens.

A film for those interested in the evolution of the Mexican Wrestling movie phenomenon. Somewhat less than essential for everyone else.

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. 

El Tesoro De Moctezuma/The Treasure of Montezuma (1968)

El Tesoro de Moctezuma (1966)‘lt’s a uranium-powered, electronic video transmitter of great strength.’

A sinister criminal organisation plan to use the lost treasure of the last Aztec Emperor Montezuma to fund their diabolical schemes. A map hidden in a statue held in a museum holds the secret to its location. Unfortunately, the drawing needs to be decoded and the key to the cipher is hidden in an emerald ring which is in the possession of an Interpol agent…

Direct sequel to ‘Operacion 67’ (1967) that finds legendary silver-masked wrestler El Santo and his compadre Jorge Rivero still running around like ‘Bonds On A Budget’ tackling guns, girls and (very few) gadgets. They’re up against supervillain Miguel Gomez Checa and his evil minions again, and this time the crooks are after nothing less than Montezuma’s treasure! Rather predictably, this involves collecting a couple of MaGuffins in the time-honoured tradition of Hollywood Serials of the 1930’s and 1940’s; on this occasion an ancient statue and an emerald ring.

Heisting the first item from a museum proves to be rather easy, their night-time operation aided immeasurably by the main job of all the museum’s guards: popping outside alone for a quick smoke. A few quick shots of ‘freeze gas’ later and the statue is in the bag! Unfortunately, Checa and his main lieutenant Suki (Noé Murayama) find their second object somewhat harder to obtain, mainly because ex-employee Elizabeth Campbell passed it to agent Rivero in the first film. So, inevitably, a lot of the running time involves various goons trying to knock off Rivero and his partner El Santo.

El Tesoro de Moctezuma (1966)

‘…and don’t forget the extra garlic bread…’

The villains try to run down the legendary luchador in an underground car park using multiple vehicles until they eventually remember they have guns too! However, after letting off a few rounds, they just get bored and give up. Rivero is targeted behind the scenes of a bullfight, but he’s never in any serious danger as he can still throw a mean left after being shot in the shoulder. A few moments later, he re-joins date Amadee Chabot with just some blood on his suit and no other apparent consequences!

Talking of Chabot, Rivero meets the statuesque ex-Miss California on the street and enthusiastically runs her off the road after she repels his initial advances. Obviously, this brilliant seduction technique is a complete success and they retreat to Rivero’s bachelor pad where they start getting up close and personal in his private swimming pool. All this time, El Santo is watching them on his private TV because all agents wear magic cameras that allow them to be filmed as if by a third person! Santo does turn off his TV before they have sex, though, so it’s all fine and not creepy at all. Anyway, the next scene finds Rivero making eyes at a dusky brunette in the crowd watching El Santo fight, because…it was the 1960s, I guess. Santo ends up with this new girl’s twin sister anyway, so it’s all fine and not creepy at all. Again.

In the last 20 minutes everyone remembers that the film is supposed to be about Montezuma’s treasure, and Santo is lured to a rendezvous at the local pyramids. In a badly missed opportunity, he does not encounter our old friend, the Aztec Mummy, but just more of Checa and Murayama’s goons, who fail to kill him again with their usual ruthless inefficiency. Supervillains just can’t get a decent standard of help. Having said that, Interpol’s backroom boffin Dr Androna does get himself strangled to death (in a few seconds) but, when our heroes arrive, he has managed to leave them a last-gasp explanatory message on his tape recorder nevertheless. He even includes information about the villains’ plans that he can’t possibly have known!

El Tesoro de Moctezuma (1966)

‘All you have to do is fly the kites from the top of the tower…’

This project obviously had a slightly higher budget than most of El Santo’s cinematic adventures and the father and son directing team of Rene Cardona and Rene Cardona Jr deliver a competent, if rather uninspired, production. Proceedings are enlivened a little by the early appearance of the lovely Maura Monti as an enemy agent, but the emphasis on Rivero’s romantic escapades are likely to be a little tiresome to fans of our silver-masked hero.

It was a busy year for El Santo as he’d already flexed his ‘Indiana Jones’ muscles going after Dracula’s treasure in the cunningly titled ’Santo and Dracula’s Treasure’ (1968). Rivero was actually more of a bodybuilder then a wrestler and, although he’d played a luchador in his debut feature, he’s fairly obviously doubled in his scenes in the square ring.

Passable, if slightly anonymous, spy games for El Santo. Not the worst of his efforts by any means, but lacking the wackier elements that make some of his other adventures so memorable.

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).

S.O.S. Conspiracion Bikini/S.O.S. The Bikini Conspiracy (1967)

S.O.S. The Bikini Conspiracy (1967)‘With joy, I would split that bastard’s head with a single blow.’

When a model is killed at a swimsuit fashion show in a posh resort, secret agent Alex Dimano begins to investigate. He suspects the culprits to be members of mysterious criminal group, the Secret Organizational Service, whose hierarchy have assembled at the hotel for a clandestine meeting.

Mexican Eurospy (if that’s not a contradiction in terms!) co-produced by a studio in Ecuador and shot on location in that country. Our ‘Bond On A Budget’ is Julio Alemán, only he’s not running around the glamorous capital cities of the continent so much as just a posh hotel with a late diversion to a local waterway. He does tangle with the usual mixture of ‘guns, gadgets and girls’ though, so that part of the tried and trusted formula remains intact.

The family name of Rene Cardona is all over Mexican low-budget cinema of the last half of the 20th Century. Patriarch Rene Cardona Senior was responsible for many interesting productions, often featuring monsters, mad scientists and wrestlers. He also recast Father Christmas as a megalomaniac drug pushing peeping tom in the somewhat questionable kids film ‘Santa Claus’ (1959). His son, Rene Cardona Junior, was happy to join the family business, and, although he never quite reached the demented ‘heights’ of his father’s output, he still delivered many a cheap exploitation picture with titles like ‘Night of 1000 Cats’ (1972) and ‘Tintorera…Bloody Waters’ (1977). He also wrote scripts for his father including ‘Blue Demon and Zovek and the Invasion of the Dead’ (1973). This film was one of his early efforts, and it was only the second time he took on the dual role of both writer and director.

Alemán spends most of the movie’s first hour running around the hotel working on his mission which conveniently involves secret meetings with various beautiful women. This is something which obviously interests him as much as his assignment, as he hits on every random bikini-clad babe in sight anyway. Not surprisingly, this does not go down well with girlfriend Adriana (Sonia Furió) who keeps surprising him in various mildly compromising situations and won’t accept his lame excuses. This all seems logical enough until later on when Furió uses one of her high heels as a gun, is kidnapped by the S.O.S. and activates her homing beacon so her location can be tracked. Because she was an agent all the time and working with Alemán! Maybe they just don’t believe in talking shop because you wouldn’t have known it!

S.O.S. The Bikini Conspiracy (1967)

Slipping on the soap in the shower can have unfortunate consequences…

Alemán’s investigations into the murder prompts him to interview the guests he believes are part of the S.0.S. However, rather than answer any of his questions, all of them just hand him a written deposition, obviously realising that paperwork is far deadlier than a bullet or a knife. Actually, one of the film’s major flaws is that there’s no proper introduction to any of these characters. The S.O.S. hierarchy has been infiltrated with a mole (probably played by Grace Polit, the credits aren’t clear) but, although heavily featured early on, her character never even gets a name.

Similarly, the objectives of this deadly organisation are also cheerfully vague; all we learn is that they intend to practice acts of terrorism appropriate to the ‘ideologies and peculiarities of the chosen countries.’ In charge of the bad guys is the hard-bitten Ms Bristol (Sonia lnfante) and, if there does seem to be a good number of women in the high echelons of her organisation, before you get too excited, it’s worth mentioning that most of them are little more than set dressing. The one exception is lnfante’s lieutenant Maria Monti who gets in on the action a little and sings a song written by French crooner and sometime actor Charles Aznavour. Talking of music, we also get some dancing at the ‘Crazy Horse’ courtesy of a beat combo partly dressed in silly blonde Beatle wigs.

To be fair, things pick up a good deal in the final third of the film. The car chase might be a little on the lacklustre side but when the vehicle containing the bad guys cracks up, it explodes nicely into a ball of roaring flame. Rather brilliantly, this happens the very second the wheels have left the road and for no discernible reason at all! lt’s probably the film’s funniest moment, albeit probably unintentional. From there, we find out that the budget stretched to a helicopter, a speed boat and a cruiser, but secret weapon ‘The Amphibian’ turns out to be just a smaller boat. We never see its’ apparent firepower either because the villains just give up! Plenty of bullets fly around, but no-one hits anything apart from Alemán who manages surprisingly well, considering he’s firing one-handed while piloting a speedboat at the same time.

Dinamo did get further adventures, both in a short-lived comic book series and in movie sequel ‘Peligro!…Mujeres En Accion’/’Danger! Women In Action’ (1969). Only Alemán returned for the second episode, but the cast did include Elizabeth Campbell, who had battled gangsters, mad scientists and even the Aztec Mummy as one of Mexican cinema’s ‘Wrestling Women’ at the start of the decade.

Although it’s obvious the budget wasn’t there for a big finish, the last act of this one isn’t too bad. Unfortunately, it takes an awful long time to get there.

Peter Pan swimwear by Oleg Cassini.

The Night of a Thousand Cats/La Noche De Los Mil Gatos (1972)

Night of A Thousand Cats (1972)‘Dorgo is a great cook, and meat is his speciality.’

A rich playboy picks up beautiful women in his helicopter. After some sessions of casual sex, rather than go through a break up, he strangles them instead, adding their heads to his collection and feeding their remains to his large number of pet cats.

Mexican exploitation filmmaker Rene Cardona Jr really was a chip off the old block. His dad had given the world delights such as ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ (1969), ‘Wrestling Women Vs The Aztec Mummy’ (1964), ‘Neutron Traps The Invisible Killers’ (1965) and ‘Santo and Dracula’s Treasure’ (1969). But these were just the jewels in the crown of many other titles featuring monsters, wrestlers, cowboys and killers over a career lasting almost four decades. He was also responsible for the distinctly unfriendly children’s film ‘Santa Claus’ (1959), which often appears on ‘worst film of all time’ lists and rightly so. In short, Junior had a hell of a lot to live up to!

And it’s pleasing to report that he certainly gave it his best shot. Hugo (Hugo Stiglitz) is independently wealthy; his days spent in playing golf, flying around in his helicopter, playing chess with sinister butler Dorgo, looking after his cats and adding to his collection of severed heads. lt’s a hard life, to be sure. When the film opens, he’s also romancing blonde Christa Linder, who seems perfectly ready to give up everything for our humourless leading man, probably because he hardly ever removes his cool shades. Anyway, he gets her in a boat and then kills her on a deserted beach. Oh, hang on, is she the one he kills later on after he shows her his collection of pickled heads? Hmmm. l’d have to go back and watch it again to be certain.

Because that’s the entire plot of the film right there. Boy meets girl, boy and girl have sex, boy kills girl, puts her head in a jar and feeds the rest of her to his cats. Again and again. Absolutely nothing else happens. The story is not the only thing that’s mindlessly repetitive. Stiglitz’s preferred pick up method is to buzz women in his helicopter. In a film only about 80 minutes long, literally about 15 minutes of it just consists of bits and pieces of that. Now, I realise that hiring a helicopter must have been an expensive item on the production budget so they couldn’t afford not to use it, but even so! What doesn’t help these sequences is that exactly the same piece of music plays on the soundtrack every time he’s airborne. lt’s seriously tedious at best. There’s little here for gorehounds either as all the kills are relentlessly uninventive and almost bloodless.

So why is Stiglitz doing all this? Well, we do see a flashback sequence to his romance with another pretty blonde, who it seems he intends to marry. Unfortunately, Dorgo’s a bit slow on the uptake and she ends up as dead as the rest. In other words, it’s just more scenes of a woman in peril that conclude in exactly the same way as all Hugo’s other relationships, only this time he’s not the actual killer. Dorgo’s still around so obviously it wasn’t all that big a deal anyway. Unlike when he finally beats his master at chess, which turns out to be a serious tactical error on his part.

Stiglitz actually co-produced this-project, which is a bit of a puzzle considering his DOA performance. Our main heroine (sorry, prospective victim) is played by Anjanette Comer whose career nosedive would probably make for a far more interesting story than what we’re given here. She’d got her big break in Tony Richardson’s black satire ‘The Loved One’ (1965) and followed it up by starring opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. There was Marlon Brando in ‘The Appaloosa’ (1966), Robert Wagner in ‘Banning’ (1967) and Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson in ‘Guns of San Sebastian’ (1968). She’d even appeared as a guest on ‘The Johnny Carson Show’ in 1969! How on earth did she end up in this?

Night of A Thousand Cats (1972)

The judges on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ should have been more encouraging…

Cardona Jr probably reached the height of his career with cheap ‘Indiana Jones’ knock-off ‘Treasure of the Amazon’ (1985) because that had Donald Pleasance, Bradford Dillman, Stuart Whitman and John Ireland. Ok, they were all at the end of long careers by then but it was a starrier cast than he’d assembled for ‘Jaws’ wannabe ‘Tintorera…Bloody Waters’ (1977) or ‘Zindy, the Swamp-Boy’ (1973) which starred his dad and his son!

Being charitable, there’s just about enough script here for a 25 minute TV episode. The decision to just to recycle events over and over again instead of actually trying to come up with more story proves predictably disastrous.

A very boring experience indeed.