Monday, April 8, 2013

From the Lucha Diaries Vaults: Las Lobas del Ring (Mexico, 1965)

Just my way of informing you all that I'm out of town this week and won't have time to generate any new content. For more of where this came from, please visit The Lucha Diaries.


For their third outing, the Wrestling Women apparently decided they needed a break from grappling with mummies, brain-thieving mad scientists, and armor-plated beast men, and instead chose to take on a comparably more quotidian adversary. This would be Lorena Vazquez's last film in the series before she moved on to bigger and brighter things (well, she would next co-star in a couple of Santo's Vergara pictures, so maybe I should just say “other” things) and perhaps doing a Luchadoras film in which she abstained from punching any zombies was the closest she could come to bowing out gracefully.

In any case, the plot of Las Lobas del Ring revolves around a wrestling tournament that pits Loreta Venus (Vazquez), Golden Rubi (Elizabeth Campbell) and their fellow luchadoras against a team of unscrupulous woman wrestlers who will stop at nothing -- nothing, I tell you! -- to win. This focus on wrestlers wrestling makes Las Lobas del Ring a lucha film that's very heavy on the lucha -- and it’s an interesting choice, given that the Luchadoras series is one of the few lucha film series built around stars who are not actual professional wrestlers. As a result, we get a film where Vazquez and Campbell's chunky, unconvincing doubles get a real workout.

For unprepared viewers who come to the film expecting the usual smack-down between big-haired women in leotards and cheesy monsters -- finding instead just more big-haired women in leotards in place of those cheesy monsters -- Las Lobas del Ring will undoubtedly come as something of a wet slap in the face. It's really impossible to over-stress just how much this isn't a monster movie. Still, it's not like everything in the Luchadoras universe has changed; Elizabeth Campbell, for instance, is still inexplicably saddled with a grating comic relief boyfriend (He has to stand on a box to kiss her! Oh my sides!) -- though it's not Chucho Salinas this time around, so perhaps we should at least be thankful for that. Much comedy is also mined from the rich vein of mere women, both in and out of the ring, repeatedly beating the hell out of men. One member of Venus and Rubi's team in particular is shown happy-slapping her tubby boyfriend into a cowering stupor in scene after scene until he finally breaks a flower pot over her head... The End. (Seriously, that's how the movie ends, though I don't think that quite counts as a spoiler.)

Come to think of it, even if you are prepared for it (as I was) Las Lobas del Ring is kind of tough going. In its favor is the fact that it features Velazquez and Campbell, who are always engaging company. (It might also be of interest to Campbell fans for a brief moment where the gringa actress slips into English for a couple of lines.) There is also a somewhat rousing climax in which a group of the Luchadoras' wrestler friends storm the hideout where the villains are holding not just Rubi but also Loreta's mom (nothing, I tell you!) hostage. Still, it’s a good thing that the series got back on track with the next film, the cheesy monster-fest and wannabe Santo movie Las Mujeres Panteras, because seeing the Wrestling Women amidst all this ordinariness is mildly traumatizing.

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