Thursday, August 29, 2013

El Barón del Terror (1962, Chano Urueta)

This one is brought to us, via suggestion, by Tenebrous Kate of Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire and Super Coven fame. This is not a spoiler free review. This one is available on YouTube in English, if you are interested.

AKA The Brainiac, this one starts during the Spanish Inquisition, and has Baron Vitelius d'Estera (abel Salazar) on trial for numerous heresies and other crimes, notably necromancy. He is sentenced to death by burning, and his lone character witness is sentenced to two-hundred lashes. As Vitelius burns, he sees through the hoods of the inquisitors as a comet passes. He proclaims that in 300 years, when the comet returns, he will return also and destroy the inquisitors' descendants. Cut to 1961.

Vitelius revels in many of the accusations.

The comet.

We meet a young astronomer and his girlfriend, Victoria (Rosa María Gallardo, who is also, perhaps, an astronomer). They leave a nightclub to meet a professor at the observatory. He begins quizzing them on Haley's Comet, then explains that the 1661 comet is returning. After some failures to locate the comet, the girlfriend is able to find it. It soon begins acting strangely... A motorist, elsewhere, sees the comet also, then sees a large boulder fall from the sky. As he approaches, the boulder fades, and a strange creature comes into view... The motorist is killed, and his clothing disappears. The monster transforms into a man, wearing (presumably) the dead motorist's suit. And so it begins...

I can't find the stupid comet!

Here it is, dummy!

The boulder...

The Baron can transform from the monster to human form (or it is perhaps an illusion?), and sets about killing random people for a while. He changes to monster form before the killings, and all victims are found to have two holes in their skull and brain removed. Eventually Vitelius throws a party for some of the richer folks in town; he is able to see the faces of the Inquisitors when he looks at their descendants. He begins killing them and destroying historical documents that implicate him in any crimes. Oh, he has hypnotic powers like a vampire as well...




Hypnosis...

More hypnosis...


Eventually the police put together that Vitelius is the link to all the murders, but can divine no motive. We discover that Vitelius is not eating his victims' brains, but rather collecting them. We find that he has a large chalice (or small urn) or brains. Our astronomer friends are investigating instead the disappearance of the comet from earlier. Vitelius has already expressed his interest in astronomy, and seems to know something of the comet, so the three come into contact. The police finally get their connection to the Baron together,and fear that the young astronomers are in danger. We discover that the Baron needs the brains to survive, and get to see him partake of some... Then we find that Victoria is one of the descendants, and though Vitelius has fallen in love with her, his hate is stronger than his love. At the last minute, the police arrive with... flamethrowers. The end.

My medicine.

BRAINS!

I really like you, but your great-great-great-great-grandfather was kind of a dick, so...

No idea where they got these, but they did the job!

In all this is a great little movie that sits somewhere between classic Universal horror films, and some of their lesser knock-offs. It is nicely shot, with good sets. The monster is a bit wonky, and very Roger Corman in style, but mostly effective. Great little film, and well worth your time, especially since it is both free and dubbed in English.

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