Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From the Lucha Diaries vaults: Kaliman en el Siniestro Mundo de Humanon (Mexico, 1976)

Okay kids, Daddy's busy, so go read your lukewarm leftovers in the form of "From the Lucha Diaries vaults". That's where I post an old review of a Mexican wrestling movie from my site The Lucha Diaries while I tend to other pressing matters of state. Don't hate, though, because what I'm busy with is a feature-length review of Santo vs. Blue Demon in Atlantis that's just for you because you're special. Sure, I know your Mom says that I'm just sleeping off my traditional "thank God it's Tuesday" celebration, but she would say that wouldn't she?

Kaliman is a popular costumed hero of Mexican comics and radio. A somewhat new agey super hero, his super powers -- from what I can glean from Kaliman en el Siniestro Mundo de Humanon -- are telepathy, the ability to quote from the Koran and endlessly spew all sorts of pseudo spiritual hooey gooey, and some vague form of martial arts that involves lots of crouching and hand waving. Kaliman en el Siniestro Mundo de Humanon is not a lucha movie, but it contains enough dopey weirdness for ten Santo movies (providing that one of those ten isn't Profandores de Tumbas), and that for me is enough to qualify it for inclusion in The Lucha Diaries.

I've heard that the first Kaliman movie was one of the most expensive productions in Mexican film history, complete with globe-spanning locations, lavish sets, and a large international cast. Kaliman en el Siniestro Mundo de Humanon, however, is the second Kaliman movie, and it exhibits the kind of downward scaling and hastiness of construction with which viewers of late 70s lucha films will be comfortably familiar. Kaliman himself, though he does not wear a face obscuring mask, does share with Santo and Blue Demon the fact that his super hero identity is in effect twenty-four/seven and, as such, requires him to wear his Kaliman costume at all times, no matter what the circumstances. The producers highlight this to fine effect by placing the film's action in Brazil, because nowhere could Kaliman's outfit of turban, cape, and blindingly white tunic and tights look more conspicuous than as he strolls among the bikini clad sun worshipers on the beaches of Rio.

Kaliman's sidekicks include a small boy wearing a fez (more of a liability than an asset, really, because he keeps getting kidnapped and imperiled - and simply leaving him at home never appears to be an option) and a woman who wears very little else besides a black veil that conceals her hideously disfigured face, which is later revealed to itself be a mask concealing -- for no reason other than shits and giggles, apparently -- her real face, which is unremarkable but at least not at all disfigured. These are strange characters, indeed, though the villains in El Siniestro Mundo de Humanon serve to normalize them a great deal. Humanon, for instance, who wears a bright red Klansman's outfit (but with sunglasses worn over the hood) and a cape with an atomic symbol on it, hides out in a secret jungle compound with a magical dwarf lady, a cackling, hyperactive witch doctor, and a grizzled right hand man with the demeanor of a crazy old prospector and does all kinds of weird shit for no discernable reason. Among Humanon's projects are the placement of animal brains and electronic parts into captured scientists to create what he calls "Zombie-tronics", a collection of living disembodied heads in jars, and a furry cyclops who he claims to have evolved from a rock. Obviously a stop needs to be put to all this, because, even though none of it really make any sense, it's not particularly right either.

Kaliman en el Siniestro Mundo de Humanon
hits the ground running, providing a rich, projectile stream of insanity that lasts from it's first moments to its very last. And if that doesn't sound like an endorsement, you don't know me very well.

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