Foreign language horror films are part of a sub-genre I am still learning more about. I’ve seen a small handful of Italian horror flicks to know that I have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy them. Almost all of them I’ve seen are dubbed and, quite honestly, that can take me out of the moment. I’ve seen quite a few Japanese monster movies to know I really enjoy them, even better with subtitles. And I also know that some of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever seen are from Mexico. More often than not, I’m left wondering what I’ve seen and just how crazy it was. Santa Claus (1959) anyone? La Nave de los Monstruos (aka The Ship of Monsters) is one such film. Part sci-fi, part horror, part musical and part…heck, I don’t know, western maybe? It was definitely one of the more unique movies I’ve seen recently.
Made in 1960, the plot offers a little bit for everyone. It centers around two females from outer space who are sent to find male creatures to help repopulate their planet. Gamma is played by Ana Bertha Lepe and Beta is played by Lorena Velazquez. Velazquez starred in numerous Mexican cinema “classics”, such as Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy (1964) and Doctor of Doom (1963). They are accompanied by a robot (put together with spare change and random prop parts) as they cruise the galaxy for helpless males. They eventually have a menagerie of bizarre creatures including a short doll-like being with an exposed brain, a huge one-eyed monster, a spider and an odd creature made only of bones. The robot keeps them frozen so as to control them. Our two beauties find themselves on Earth awaiting ship repairs and stumble across Lauriano (Eulalio Gonzalez, a popular comedic actor of the 1960s). Lauriano sings his way through a couple of odd musical numbers, lamenting his lack of a true love, and is a chronic liar. Lauriano lives with his brother Chuy, who simply rolls his eyes at his older brother’s antics. Gamma and Beta want to take Lauriano with them but Beta wants him for herself. She disobeys orders and reveals herself to be….a vampire. Could I make this stuff up? As it turns out, sucking blood is frowned upon in the intergalactic community and punishable by death. Well, before Gamma can execute Beta, Beta escapes, releases the monsters and begins a plot to destroy the Earth. Madness and chaos ensues.
This movie is one whacked out trip. The special effects are non-existent but we’ve all come to expect that in the sci-fi and horror movies we love and can forgive that fact. However, the plot is all over the place. Was this intended to be a comedy or is it being played straight for the sci-fi…err horror….err musical….whatever film it was intended to be? I will say the monsters are downright creepy at times and the sound effects are particularly eerie. The version I watched was in Spanish with English subtitles and, while Vince at the B Movie Cast says you can enjoy it without subtitles, I say you’ll clearly enjoy it more with them if you can find a copy. Just reading some of the horrendous dialogue and following along as Lauriano sings is worth the subtitles alone.
I can’t recommend La Nave de los Monstruos as a serious movie but it is definitely worth tracking down to say you’ve watched and experienced it. It is a really bad movie but definitely enjoyable. Yes, another candidate for the “so bad it’s good” category. There is a DVD version without subtitles but there is no official release with them. So you may have to track down a version through the usual suspects. Meanwhile, listen to Vince, Mary, Nic and Juan talk about over at the B Movie Cast. It will surely enhance your viewing experience!