Ladrones De Tumbas
(a.k.a. Grave Robbers)
1989 - Mexico
Starring: Ferndando Almada, Edna Bolkan, Erika Buenfil, Ernesto Laguardia, Maria Rebeca
DIR: Ruben Galindo, Jr.
Blurb: Four teenagers on a camping trip decide to rob a nearby graveyard. They stumble across an ornate grave and tomb housing the corpse of an executed Satanist from the days of the Inquisition. The tomb was used for Satanic rituals and inquisition torture and it's full of gold and jewelry. Our teens believe they have struck it rich... or so they think. Soon the deceased Satanist zombie, armed with a massive battleaxe, rises from the grave to claim his treasure.
Notes: We have spoilers, 'natch. But, also, some screen caps will contain movie-gore. This one is also a bit cap-heavy for those of you on slower loading speeds.
Scene 01: We open after a (too long) credits list in the past. An unfortunate, young woman [I posted before that this movie review would be a Mexican supernatural slasher -- so, did we expect any other kind of young woman but unfortunate] is the object of a ritual in which she's chained to a dirt floor within a pentagram. A nearby monk prays to a idol on a necklace and then annoints the woman as she pleads. The monks whole deal is to ensure her pregnancy by Satan so that her anti-Christ spawn can be a King, yadda-yadda....
Of course, Satan isn't going to do the work himself (this isn't Rosemary's Baby, after all), so the monk prepares to get down to icky rape. Thankfully there is noise that gives away the fact that somebody else is about to interrupt. Our good-guys are fellow monks, who aren't down with the Satan's Child idea.
Scene 02: Satan-Monk flees. In a display that we usually only see from a 1950's girl, he trips over nothing and goes splaying face first into the dirt. I find myself not nearly as irritated as I would be when the fairer sex does the same thing. Maybe, it's because he was so ready to get rapey.
It turns out that he didn't get nearly far enough before his tumble, as we see his fellow monks walking up. Satan-Monk isn't looking too serene.
Scene 03: I suppose it's because this is the dark ages, which means even the good guys have no problems with inflicting vicious torture... for the right reasons, I'm sure.
He's been introduced to the rack. Head-Monk pleads with Satan-Monk to admit his evil pact, so that the Lord will have mercy on his soul. Satan-Monk cannot understand why his fellows have forsaken him. We also find out that Satan-Monk was the Church's sanctioned executioner, so his evil is also a deep, professional betrayal.
I mean, what's a little bit of trying to bring about Satan's Son between friends?! Jeeesh.
Commentary: And, yes, we get a very nice male chest. How unfortunate it is to be marred.
Another good turn of the rack wheel and Satan-Monk admits to his doings, but he isn't exactly repentant. He tells Head-Monk that they all should follow the true prince. When he's told to repent, he spits on Head-Monk. This earns him another turn of the rack wheel, a command to 'rot in Hell', and an ax to the chest - which isn't fatal, so there is lots of male screaming.
Naturally, with his not being deaded, yet, Satan-Monk has time to pronounce a curse with an accompanying ill wind. He finally expires once he promises that on the day that the ax is removed from his body, he'll return to wreak vengeance on the nearby town and especially the bloodline of the monks' (which actually has no impact on anything at all and is forgotten about).
Scene 04: We cut to modern day and focus on a law-enforcement officer asleep in his chair with his feet up, snoring away. He's woking up by an annoyed Sheriff, as there is what sounds like gunshots outside that failed to wake him.
Our policemen race across town.
Commentary: This part is a bit confusing... just why are they racing across town? Was it the gunshots? How did they know where they were coming from?! Is it a separate issue? Were the gunshots not gunshots?
Scene 05: Ah, all becomes clear!
Our officers of the law go to a gunsmith's home, where the shots we heard were coming from a semi-automatic, machine gun that he was repairing for the police. More test shots are fired... at glass bottles... on a balcony....
Okay. They do things differently South of the Border.
A girl arrives on the balcony, and it is the Chief's daughter. She's arrived with her friend. We find out through exposition that she's also engaged to weaponsmith and that her friends just arrived from... Mexico.... Huh. Where are we?!
Daughter and girlfriend join two other girls in a Jeep.
Commentary: I should mention that this set, "Crypt of Terror" has English subtitles but not dubbing. Since I've stopped minding this because of my Buffy-set (in which I'll rewatch episodes in French and Spanish for no real reason), it's not a problemo for me. Your mileage may vary. The subtitles themselves are relatively well done. There are some weird word choices and misspellings, but the sentences aren't mangled, so you get the gist of what was meant to be said just fine.
Scene 06: We then switch our focus to a different group of six. They're on a backroad in the middle of nowhere. It quickly becomes apparent that these are our grave robbers. Two of these are less jerkish than the others and end up in a scuffle with our two macho-ey bad guys. The two more decent would-be grave robbers storm off down the road.
For our convenience we have: Leader-Jerk, Punk-Ass (with the white shirt), Punk-Ass' Girl, Dark Ponytail, Pop Princess (blonde with black cap on) and Unfortunate Headband.
Punk-Ass/Jorge and Punk-Ass' Girl/Andrea wonder off into the dark night. The other four gather up the tools and head for an old cemetery. Needless to say, not one of them are dressed for an evening of grave digging.
Scene 07: We follow our amateur grave robbers on their quest through a cemetery. Dark Ponytail points out that they've already been to seven sites without a thing to show for it, but Pop Princess assures them that the town they're outside of has a custom of burying their dead with gold as a way of helping them find Heaven.
Commentary: Unfortunately we get to watch every footstep of our would-be grave defilers, and it's about as slow as you'd imagine.
Scene 08: We now rejoin Chief's Daughter at the campsite of her and her three girlfriends. They have a campfire lit. They put up the awning of the tent.
Commentary: No, really. That was it. Pointless scene, anyone?
Scene 09: Back with grave robbers, they arrive at a particular slab in the middle of the cemetery. Pop Princess apparently believes she has some sort of gold-sensing psychic ability, as she waves a crystal over the grave-slab with a hah-"grave look"-hah.
Unfortunate Headband cleans some debris from the name plate and finds:
He confirms with Psychic-Pop-Princess that they've found what they want.
Scene 10: We timeskip a bit later, to where the men have been digging. Dark Ponytail is worrying about Punk-Ass and Punk-Ass' Girl.
Another timeskip forward, and they've reached a coffin. They strike grave gas and have to light it up to disperse it. When they open it, they find a mummified body, but no gold riches waiting for the taking. Leader-Guy and Unfortunate Headband give Pop Princess some crap, but she insists that she can still feel the gold. She joins the boys down in the hole.
She waves her crystal around a bit and then apologizes to the others. She was sure she felt a lot of gold and can't imagine why she's so wrong. Suddenly though, part of the ground she's standing on gives way and she disappears down a tunnel under the gravesite with a scream.
Commentary: The mistranslation is funny though... she tells them that she was sure she could sense a lot of 'golf' just waiting for them. We also find out that Pop Princess is Rebeca.
The others call down the shaft after her, but there isn't a reply. Unfortunate Headband offers to go down after her (Leader-Guy is Armando). Unfortunate Headband hitches up a rope and lantern and goes down the shaft. (Unfortunate Headband is Manolo)
Scene 11: Alas for Manolo, he isn't very good at rock climbing and he falls down the distant length of the shaft. Armando and Dark-Ponytail exchange a "now what" look.
Manolo's body didn't end up shattered at the bottom however, and he calls up that he's fine. Apparently the steep incline helped him role to the bottom (in a not very convincing effect -- you can seen the mat covered in dirt to try to hide it). He finds Rebeca's hat, but not her and proceeds deeper into the underground cavern they've discovered.
Rebeca gives Manolo a jump-scare for no reason.
Commentary: Also, why is Manolo looking all filthy from his tumble, while Rebeca looks like she just trowled on fresh makeup?
Manolo sees something offscreen, where it remains for the moment, but is so overcome with joy that he calls Dark-Ponytail and Armando to join them in the cavern. They do, but they also slip and tumble all the way down. Manolo finds this amusing.
Scene 12: Our foursome find their way into the Monk's Old Catacombs and wander around.
Scene 13: Back out-of-doors, Jorge and Andrea are wandering around still in the dark.
Commentary: Wow. Another pointless scene doing nothing.
Scene 14: Back underground, our gang find old skeletons laid out on slabs, which apparently were enough of a burial for them. They're surrounded by gold trinkets, just as Rebeca has sensed. Our gang start filling their pockets, except for Rebeca who goes wandering off a short distance away.
She finds another body laying out and it too has riches. Our Gang o' Graverobbers are all, "Yay, we're rich, we're rich!" accompanied by some very 80's music.
Scene 15: As Manolo and Rebeca are picking one corpse clean, and Dark-Ponytail is grabbing a pearl bracelet from another, Armando wanders toward the rear of the crypt. He calls Manolo to check out the tomb he's discovered, which is different than the bodys-on-a-slab of the rest of the dead. For some reason, the tomb is inscribed in English (where the hell are we??), so they can't read it (and neither can we since we don't see what is inscribed anyway -- one would think it'd be a warning about not opening 'til the next apocalypse for the purposes of graverobbing, but who knows). They decide to break into it, as since it is sealed away, there must be the motherlode within.
Meanwhile Rebeca has joined Dark-Ponytail where they enthuse about how much money they'll make when they pawn off all of the gold they're stealing. (OH, HEY! Dark-Ponytail gets a name! It's Diana.)
Commentary: This scene just goes on and on and on.... I mean, seriously, we get it already... lots of riches! Get on with opening that which should not be opened, already. And wow, the 80's vibe... may I direct your attention to Diana's jean-jacket, which is adorned with giant safety pins? It's glorious.
Scene 16: Manolo and Armando are getting ready to pickaxe open the sealed grave, when Rebeca comes up and warns them to leave it be. They want to know why, but she can't explain why she's so bothered by it. Naturally, they ignore her because they're greedy and all of the riches lying around isn't enough to satisfy. Just as naturally, this isn't a wise idea.
Commentary: Also, Armando is really rocking in the 'Ray Wise' lookalike contest.
Once they've pried it open, thick gas rushes out. They light this on fire to expel it, nearly blowing themselves up in the process. Armando and Manolo exchange slightly-slashy glances at one another and then exclaim how rich they are, which apparently is a joke on the girls. Inside the grave is actually not anymore riches, just the body of Satan-Monk, with the axe still in his chest.
Armando-Ray and Headband-Manolo crack up as the girls' get "ew, gross" face. Once they've laughed themselves out, Armando-Ray goes to remove the axe for no real reason, but Rebeca tells him he'll regret it if he does. Despite her seeming somewhat psychic, and everyone seemingly believing in her somewhat-psychic-ness, Headband-Manolo tells her to chill out, reaches in and yanks the axe out of the corpse to prove that the body is just a body of some long dead dude.
From the axe handle, Manolo removes a weird figure on a heavy chain and offers it to Rebeca (who appears to be his girlfriend, I think), but she declines archly. She's obviously still a bit pissy that they aren't listening to her, and Diana-SafetyPins takes her side.
Scene 17: Well, as we've all surely learned by now, the weather is directly impacted by the presence of supernatural evil so a thunderstorm rolls in now. In addition, a cold breeze blows through the underground crypt, freaking Ms. Ponytail-Jeanjacket right out. Manolo is a bit weirded out and decides they should just grab what they have and go.
Scene 18: Out of doors, still marching their way blindly through the woods is Punk-Ass and Punk-Ass' girl. They get caught in the sudden downpour that has cropped up.
(Did we know that Punk-Ass is Jorge? Dammit, I guess I should go back through what I've typed and see if his girlfriend has a name; hold on a second: Oh, yes we did. And Punk-Ass' girl is Andrea.)
So, Jorge whines and Andrea wants to go back to the truck. I wonder what the point is of our continuing to cut back to these two.
Scene 19: Meanwhile, back underground, Rebeca is getting terrified face over the sudden breeze going through the defiled crypt. She tries to tell Manolo that she has an awful feeling about what he and Armando have done, but he blows this off. That doesn't stop him from wanting to get the hell outta dodge, though, and he tries to get Armando to get his ass in gear so they can try to climb up outta there.
Which they do, via jump cut edit. The storm that they've brought down on themselves is in moderately high gear now. With the thunder and the lightning and the rain, everyone tries to rush back to the truck... Armando sings incoherently and prances around in the rain, not about to let his mood be spoiled over a bit of bad weather.
We get to watch every step. Including their re-climbing that high, iron gate, which seems like a poor choice considering the lightning storm. But since nobody gets electrocuted, what do I know... and also... was it really necessary to make sure we saw this?
Scene 20: Back at Satan-Monk's body, the interior of his grave lights up brightly.
Commentary: I like the directing work, as the camera glides around a cross that is in the fore-screen before closing in on the evil tomb. I also like the gaspy-breath in the soundtrack as we glide up to the burial pit. This shot actually calls to mind the ALIEN commercials, where the camera is at ground level and is zooming in on the egg before it cracks open. This soundtrack isn't as dramatic as that, but the shot is certainly the same concept.
Suddenly, a very dried-up husk looking face pops up into view, its mouth open in a harsh rasp.
Scene 21: Back at the truck, our foursome makes it into the cab, soaked through. For no apparent reason, Manolo is suddenly pissy. Rebeca accuses him of just being afraid, but he insists that whatever happened in the tomb was nothing but a breeze from the oncoming storm. He does want to get out of there though, and return to Mexico to pawn their booty (where the hell ARE WE???).
Of course, when Armando-Wise tries to turn over the truck, it refuses to start. Rebeca's turn to whine. Armando gets out to look at the engine, which he then bashes with a rock, as that should fix things nicely.
Scene 22: In the meanwhile, we get Satan-Monk POV doing nothing in particular.
Scene 23: At the truck, bashing the engine with a rock did in fact fix things. Armando tries to speed off, but now the wheels are stuck in the mud. Manolo orders the girls to join him to push the truck out.
Scene 24: Meanwhile, Satan-Monk POV has made it to the rack where he met his demise. He stares at the dread device. We watch as we reach out and pick up one of the wrist manacles and crush it easily in our supernatural grip.
Commentary: Unfortunately, this gives us a nice, close up view of the glove that we're wearing which is supposed to be our gnarly, mummified hand which ruins the effect of our undeadness. Bummer.
Scene 25: Back at the truck, Our Gang is not having any success and there is a lot of yelling in frustration, especially toward Armando - as if this is his fault. As Our Gang of Graverobbers discuss their situation, we see (and hear the raspy breathing of) Undead Satan-Monk. Our Gang had brought the axe with them and it's in the bed of the truck. We see Satan-Monk Zombie reach in and grab it.
In the truck cab, everyone notices that the rain has very suddenly stopped. There is a sudden jump scare at Armando's window, which turns out to be two locals on horseback.
What are they doing out there? I know not. But they offer Our Gang some help in getting their truck (which the subtitles insist is a van) out of its rut. Diana and Rebeca distract the two men, while Armando hides the baggie of jewels they pilfered under some nearby rocks.
Commentary: Which is ridiculous! They were all stuffing their coats with coins and bracelets and necklaces... there is no way that this tiny bag has everything the group stole. Plus, it isn't even necessary! Do you think the men are going to be performing pat downs on the off-chance that you happened to have been in the cemetery digging up bodies?! This is a really dumb tidbit and is time wasting. Plus, Manolo isn't even hidden from the view of one of the guys on the horse, so everything he was 'sneakily' doing should have been clear as day.
Manolo returns to the truck bed, as first horse guy starts tying a rope to the rear of the truck so he can use the horse to pull it free. He notices that the axe is missing mysteriously.
Undead Satan-Monk stalks nearby, which causes second horseman's horse to suddenly buck and rear up. He falls off the horse and it (rather lackadaisically) trots off up the road. He goes to retrieve his steed.
Scene 26: Second horseman wanders up over a convenient hill so he's out of eyeline of Our Group. He calls out for the horse, Jacinta, over and over. Finally, Satan-Monk pops up very suddenly behind him, as undead killers are wont to do. He throttles him from behind with the axe blade, slicing through his throat.
Scene 27: Back at the truck, Our Gang and first horseman hears the strangled cries of second horseman. First goes to find out what is wrong with Second. With him ridden off, Manolo asks about the disappearing axe, but the rest of Our Gang doesn't know what happened to it.
Scene 28: Second Horseman gets a name, Tonio (add the tilde symbol over the 'n'), just in time for First Horseman to find his body with his slit throat. His horse also rears up, but he's able to keep his seat.