Punch-o Villa

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I’m really keen on MYSTERIOS DE ULTRATUMBA (1959), my favourite Mexican horror movie I’ve seen. I think it really benefits from a sharp, original script, with a tinge of the poetic, to anchor the Universal-style gothic visuals. So I wanted to check out more work by screenwriter Ramon Obon — his first film in the fantastique vein appears to be IL SINETA JINETE SIN CABEZA (THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN), made in 1957, the same year he wrote EL VAMPIRO, which effectively transfers DRACULA to the ranch, with German Robles as a glamorously sepulchral count.

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THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN is a slapdash movie-serial type superhero yarn, with the titular rider actually a black-masked crime-fighter who achieves his decapitated appearance by constantly standing in front of dark backgrounds. I can’t help thinking that this necessity must be an inconvenience when apprehending bandits who might choose to stand near white walls, of which I believe Mexico has a plentiful supply. Nevertheless, the fellow seems to do alright, apprehending a cult of skull-masked gangsters with skilled use of six-shooters and the odd musical number. He also performs feats of acrobatics enhanced by director Chano Arueta Urueta running the film backwards. He has the aid of a local citizen who has faked his own mummification in order to… I’m not actually sure why he did that. But he’s a pretty tough hombre too, for a mummy anywhere.

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Captions ©Shadowplay.

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3 Responses to “Punch-o Villa”

  1. Minor stuff… It’s EL JINETE SIN CABEZA, and Chano Urueta. Urueta also acts in a couple of Peckinpah movies. He’s the village elder in THE WILD BUNCH, I believe. And I don’t recommend using the Puch-o Villa joke around a patriotic Mexican! Cheers.

  2. Thanks… sleepless nights and thankless day job getting the better of me. I hope patriotic Mexicans will realize I have the greatest respect for their country (but patriotism is a crazy emotion, wherever you come from). Puns are my addiction.

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