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La Marca del Muerto

Marca del Muerto, La (1961) Movie Poster
Mexico  •    •  74m  •    •  Directed by: Fernando Cortés.  •  Starring: Fernando Casanova, Sonia Furió, Rosa María Gallardo, Guillermo Cramer, Aurora Alvarado, Juan José Martínez Casado, Pedro de Aguillón, Guillermo Bravo Sosa, Edmundo Espino, Hortensia Santoveña, Armando Velasco.  •  Music by: Gustavo César Carrión.
     Mad scientist brings his dead mad scientist grandfather back to life and makes a Frankenstein-type monster out of him.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 1:31
 
 

Review:

Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
Image from: Marca del Muerto, La (1961)
This film is basically a rehash of the Hammer Horror classic THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH (1959; itself a remake of 1944's THE MAN IN HALF-MOON STREET!). Watching it in the wake of several (largely uneven) Italian Gothics, I would say that the contemporaneous Mexi-Horror cycle is rather more fun to sit through; for the record, I have two more of them – namely THE WORLD OF THE VAMPIRES (1961) and THE LIVING HEAD (1963) – lined up for this week-end.

As usual, we have here a mad scientist obsessed by the quest for immortality, sacrificing any number of female lives along the way – until he is caught red-handed, tried, condemned, jailed and hanged for his crimes…and that is just the first 15 minutes of the film (which was re-edited for the U.S. by Jerry Warren and released three years later under the moniker CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD)! Anyway, we jump forward 70 years to the immediate future, i.e. 1962, and a dead-ringer relative for the notorious doctor (he even shares his name with him: how unsubtle can you get?!) stumbles upon his secret formula (actually, this is one of the unlikeliest scenes ever depicted, with the laboratory still filled with the rotting corpses of the long-past experiments!) – which he subsequently perfects thanks to the advances in technology (even allowing the unfortunate blood-donors to survive the ordeal this time around) and, rather than try it on himself, unearths his ancestor's body and revives him (the latter, then, rather fancies all the modern gizmos)!

Much of the running-time is devoted to the new medic's obligatory long-suffering fiancée (hilariously, he turns up for dinner at her house one night only to abduct the maid!). It comes as no surprise at all that the leading lady eventually ends up on a slab herself…especially when the old doctor (who reverts to the haggard look of his true age a fortnight after each transfusion) finds no more co-operation from his successor! However, before this happens, he locks him up in the lab and takes his place in the affections of his girl, even accepting her marriage proposal which his namesake had long been postponing (amusingly, when he goes out into the modern world, he addresses the butler with the first name that comes to mind, to the befuddlement of the latter, and then is almost made to soil his pants when he is nearly run over by a speeding car)!

Still, he cannot hide the mark of the hangman's noose (presumably what the title refers to) forever, and the plot slowly works its way to the expected fiery climax…which sees the two docs engaging in a one-on-one, the lovers re-united and fleeing for their lives, and the old man shouting at the top of his lungs that he cannot die. Incidentally, one of the more interesting things about this one is its religious element, with any number of crosses turning up throughout, the scientist somewhat perversely kidnapping his victims just as they exit the church, and also his defiance of God (while laughing in a priest's face) immediately prior to meeting the gallows pole!

While certainly atmospheric, entertaining and propelled by a dynamic score (which sounded oddly familiar), one is disappointed that the 'extra time' allowed the mad doctor involved is 'wasted' on replenishing the all-important concoction as opposed to thinking about what he intends doing for all eternity once he has attained his goal! Without wishing to blow my own trumpet, years ago I had jotted a plot line wherein a scientist devises a serum which obliterates sleep and, hungry for power and feeling invulnerable, he proceeds to become a criminal mastermind…and, when his wife stumbles upon the potion too, with all the time now on her hands, she naturally turns into a nymphomaniac!


Review by MARIO GAUCI from the Internet Movie Database.