‘La nave de los monstruos’ (1960)

Las mujeres sexualmente atractivas y monstruos feos.
¿Qué más necesita?

By Mark Voger, author, “Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972″

In the mood for a Mexican sci-fi/horror/western/musical/romantic comedy?

There’s only one in the world. I’m guessing.

(Name another one, and I may faint from joy.)

“La nave de los monstrous” (1960), aka “The Ship of Monsters,” is a genre-bending treasure from south of the border. “Nave” has curvy women, gnarly monsters, an engaging male lead and a winking sensibility you can almost call hip.

Mexico's finest: Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe, Miss Mexico 1953) and Beta (Lorena Velazquez, Miss Mexico 1960)

Mexico’s finest: Ana Bertha Lepe (Miss Mexico 1953) and Lorena Velazquez (Miss Mexico 1960)

Plot: The men of Venus have all perished in that planet’s “atomic scourge.” So Venusian beauties Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe, Miss Mexico 1953) and Beta (Lorena Velazquez, Miss Mexico 1960) are dispatched to kidnap males from around the galaxy, in order to repopulate Venus. Not much thought is given to the perils of intimate interplanetary relations.

The girls, practically wearing bathing suites, blast off in a rocket ship – the set is pretty impressive for a low-budget spoof – accompanied by a know-it-all robot named Torr who looks like a cousin of the metal man in “Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy.”

Gamma and Beta planned to bring these four male specimens to Venus to repopulate the planet. Blech!

Gamma and Beta planned to bring these four male specimens to Venus to repopulate the planet. Blech!

The girls kidnap four alien males – those abductions happen off-screen – which they keep frozen in big blocks of ice. Torr informs the ladies that the rocket ship is having engine trouble, which necessitates an emergency landing … on planet Earth.

There, a cowboy named Laureano (Lalo Gonzalez, aka “Piporro”) witnesses a streak of light from the ship, which he assumes to be a falling star. In song, he wishes upon the star … for a woman. His wish comes true in duplicate; two knockouts in wild duds sashay in his direction. (Laureano assumes they are circus performers.) He falls for Gamma, even after receiving a hungry kiss from Beta.

Laureano (Lalo Gonzalez) with Torr.

Laureano (Lalo Gonzalez) with Torr.

Laureano has chosen wisely. We later find out that Beta is a Uranite – that is, a Venusian vampire. She breaks from Gamma, sets loose the four aliens, and plots to become queen of Earth.

There is topical humor. Laureano’s temperamental cow is named Lollobrigida. A Venusian computer describes the people of Mexico as “hospitable and gracious, but hot-blooded.” Laureano comments that what France does with kisses, Mexico does with bullets. Upon learning that the ladies are from Venus, Laureano says, “Venusians? I thought you were white girls or something.”

Kind of hip, right?

The four monsters slither along the fine line between creepy and goofy. These creature designs have more, and better, articulation than in any other Mexi-movie I’ve seen. One is sort of a brain monster; one is a furry insect; one is a scaly cyclops; and one is, simply put, a dinosaur skeleton. They all speak Mexican Spanish, of course. When the boney one speaks in a low, purring voice, you think you’ve suddenly stumbled into a funhouse-mirror iteration of Guillermo del Toro’s “Pans Labyrinth.

You’ll recognize some players from other Mexploitation films. Velazquez starred in “Doctor of Doom” (1963) as shapely female wrestler Gloria Venus. (Could Velazquez play any character that wasn’t shapely?) Gonzalez was a beloved Western-comedy star in Mexico, and a recording artist with an extensive discography. Plus-sized Manuel Alvarado plays Ruberto, a local who grows tired of the tall tales Laureano spins in the town watering hole. Alvarado later appeared onscreen with horror master Boris Karloff in “House of Evil” (filmed in 1968), Karloff’s second-to-last film.

“La nave de los monstruous” – which I don’t believe was ever dubbed into English — is fun, fun, fun. When was the last time you saw a movie that ends with a duet between a robot and a jukebox? (They’re an item.) I can’t put it any better than Daz Lawrence, when he wrote on Horrorpedia: “To not enjoy this film is to not enjoy life itself.”

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