Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Los Demonias del Desierto (Mexico, 1990)

Okay, show of hands: Who else felt a little empty inside after reading my review of La Venganza de los Punks, knowing that that would likely be the last they heard of the cartoonish anti-protagonists of that film and its predecessor, Intrepidos Punks? Well, it turns out that the threat posed to Mexico by roving bands of punk rock bikers who worship Satan and The Road Warrior in equal measure was greater than we thought. Because, while not employing the same personnel, 1990’s Los Demonias del Desierto (Demons of the Desert) follows the template set by the Punks films so closely that we can safely consider it a sequel in spirit, if not in fact.

Yes, it’s true; gone is the gang’s luchadore-masked leader, Tarzan. But in his place we now have the wild-eyed cultist played by Sergio Bustamante, Father Damien, in a performance that seems like a desperate warning to the future concerning Brando’s Dr. Moreau. And to be honest, Father Damien seems like just the guiding hand that the formerly somewhat scattershot punks needed, channeling their putatively youthful energies toward a clearly defined goal. That goal, in this case, is the overthrow of our corrupt, consumerist society, the method, apparently, being the occupation of people’s hearts and minds. By bullets.

Just how bad is this band of satanipunks, you ask? Oh, I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of one of its members SHOOTING HIS OWN MOTHER at Damien’s urging -- an opening scene that, if unsubtle, at least does an economical job of orienting us within the film’s moral universe. Later the gang will ambush a nice nuclear family on their road trip, then shoot dad and grandpa before dragging mother and son back to their camp. Oh, but first our lead punkette -- whose blue fright wig makes her look like she has a tribble on her head -- has to get sexy with the dad’s corpse, because Los Demonias del Desierto is just classy like that.

Fortunately for the punks -- or so it would seem -- the police officers assigned to their case are surely the two most elderly on the force. These are brothers Carlos and Tony, played by brothers Fernando and Mario Almada. Both Amadas are perennial stars of Mexican action cinema, with Mario especially appearing in a whole mess of narcotraficante movies. Clearly their reputations are meant to precede them here, because when we look at Carlos and Tony, we are meant to see, not two men who have clearly chosen on-the-job coronaries over retirement, but 100% stud material. To this end, we see these codgers effortlessly putting the beat down on hoodlums young enough to be their grandchildren and romancing a pair of beauties easily 40 years their junior. In what I’m guessing is a further attempt to bolster their manliness, we are also this time given a designated gay punk biker for Carlos and Tony to call “faggot” and “queer” all over the place; meaning that, like the Punks movies before it, Los Demonias achieves the staggering feat of making its heroes even more repellent than its villains.

Carlos and Tony’s ladies are named Linda and Julia, and given the time-saving requirements of Los Demonias’ skeletal narrative, we can be assured that, once we have met them, it is not long before their peace and safety will be compromised. And, sure enough, it is only in the next scene that they are accosted by the punks at a lonely roadside spot. Julia is killed, and Linda is taken back to the camp for later sacrifice. Once there, we see that it may be Father Damien’s in-house medium, Samantha, who is really calling the shots, seeing as she determines each of his moves via the draw of the tarot -- and is also responsible for dishing out the brainwashing potion that turns their young captives into mother-killing degenerates. No woman, however, is any match for the double fisted, geriatric power slam that is the team of officers Carlos and Tony, especially now that the gang has messed with their love supply.

Los Demonias del Desierto will not disappoint fans of the Intrepidos Punks films who come to it expecting a sleazy, ridiculous piece of crap. It’s just that good. My only complaint is that the musical score doesn’t reach for the same level of authenticity as that of Intrepidos Punks, which featured an at-least-trying-to-be-punk theme by the Mexican group Three Souls In My Mind. Instead what we get is a hideous marriage of synth and sax that could have graced any of Kenny Loggins’ shitty movie songs from the 80s -- all the more reason to hate these Demons, seeing as having horrible taste in music is the worst sin that a punk could commit. Other than that, the outfits didn’t reach the level of outlandishness of the previous films, but I’m not going to split hairs. I mean, why be a punk about it, right?

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