I was fortunate enough this Winter to be invited to join a murderer’s row of experts and enthusiasts of vintage Mexican horror on a phenomenal new BluRay box set from British boutique label Indicator.
Yes, that’s right… a gig I couldn’t get in 2003 or 2013 I actually got in 2023, and I have finally done a commentary track on a disc release. All the lucha-hero movies from now defunct labels, all the promised opportunities that never manifested, and all these years removed from the initial DVD boom after streaming has supposedly taken over and ended the whole thing, how unlikely for it to happen now.
I love that I got to do it on one of if not the most recognizable creatures in the vintage Mexican-horror realm, and a totally unique one too. ‘El Baron del Terror’ isn’t the Mexican version of our Dracula or a Brit Frankenstein or anything else, he’s pretty damn unique.
Although… for the first time ever, I made this connection:
Brainiac is a direct result of Mario Bava’s Black Sunday impacting Abel Salazar and Chano Urueta, and after seeing the movie for decades, doing so in an academic sense led to a new observation that the seemingly non-sensical creature may indeed be an attempt to create a fleshy organic version of the demon-inspired burial mask seen on the Javutich character.
Another notion I got, especially after rewatching The Living Head (a movie shot the same year with most of the same folks on board with shared sets, score etc.), is this may be an incomplete film. In the years of bad prints and dubbed TV transfers, I always assumed there were missing scenes that explained the giant gaps in logic and storytelling here, but when Casa Negra released the first remastered complete edition in Spanish last decade, and most of us saw it un-corrupted for the first time… NOPE… turns out K. Gordon Murray actually cut very little back in the day. We’re left to speculate that pick-up scenes, second unit material and additional story bits were either abandoned or neglected. Maybe that nightmare looking of a creature appliance caused enough delays on set from malfunctions and falling apart they just never got all the coverage they needed?
‘Too much creature’ is quite a possibility with this film, whose story foundation is utterly sound and could easily have been executed with a more demure transformation or even no monster effects at all. Conversely, The Living Head, often described as ‘the mummy movie without a mummy’ has so little substance that it easily could have been vastly improved with even the simplest of creature costuming.
We’ll likely never know for sure, but such speculation and conversation is exactly why these types of disc releases are such a great opportunity to pop the hood on one’s fandom and re-examine the familiar in a whole new tuned-up light.
So on to the new Indicator release, and why you should buy it…
I WATCHED THE BRAINIAC SIXTEEN TIMES IN THREE WEEKS FOR YOU PEOPLE, you better damn well support!!!
I’ll keep this to a concise bullet list, please imagine a cash-register “cha-ching!” for each item on this list, because any one of these is reason enough to buy this, combined it becomes an absolute — pun intended — no brainer!
- Image and sound quality is definitely improved from the Casa Negra DVD, this is as good a presentation as we’re ever going to get of all four movies.
- The subtitled translations are all new and very much improved.
- 100-page booklet of all new essays, info and rare photos.
- Each film has a pile of extras – commentary, documentaries, rare trailers, photo galleries and ad materials, and more…
- The Brainiac disc has a scanned and translated copy of a fotonovela adaptation of the film that is an absolute jaw-dropping rarity!
- Reviews have been sterling so far. DVD Beaver in particular took the set to task on a variety of metrics and it exceeded expectations (they liked my commentary too).
So yeah, with streaming platforms failing to live up to their promises of endless libraries and unscrupulous studios pulling content to save nickels, a good collection of physical media has never been more important. Indicator’s Mexico Macabre set is easily the best collection of retro Mexican horror yet released, and is essential to any of your shelves. Do not screw up and miss this this…
KR – July 2023