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Thursday, March 15, 2012

FIGHTS: RETROSPECTIVE: Mil Mascaras fights crime in "Los Canallas" (1968)

by Bowie Ibarra

As we move forward to honor the induction of Mil Mascaras into the WWE Hall of Fame 2012, would like to share one of his feature crime-fighting films, "Los Canallas" (The Rogues).

And the first image we see are his masks and the fact that he is the star of the movie.  As if we didn't know.  Not to be confused by his cinematic lucha contemporaries, El Santo and Blue Demon.

It opens with the Rogues riding through the street of Mexico on motorcycles.  Considering the movie was made in 1968, there was nothing that said 'bad guy' as a group of people riding motorcycles.

At any rate, the leader, named Cadena (Chain), goes to the lair of her gang, Los Angeles Infernales (The Infernal Angels).  The lair is very much Aztec in design.

It's an elaborate lair, once again consistent with Aztec architecture.  And as the teammates walk to their secret lair, a bongo soundtrack backs their stroll up.

As they move into the inner-sanctum of their hideout, the Angels are partying and having a good time.  In fact, Cadena tells her friends they are going to have fun.  So they go out and break it down, 1960s style.

And, of course, Cadena gets in on the action and lets the music move her body.  She even removes (gasp!) her neckerchief!  Scandalous!

But a party pooper arrives, saying that Cadena's arch nemesis, Mil Mascaras, is arriving at the local airport for a wrestling match later that night.  That makes her mad.

Mil Mascaras arrives on the scene.  And he's flying his own plane.

I'll say that again.  Mil Mascaras is flying his own plane.  He's the Bruce Dickinson of lucha libre.  Mil Mascaras don't need no stinkin' pilot!

And the markings on his plane are "M".  And since wrestling is, apparently, also a business, Mil arrives to work with a briefcase for all his files and paperwork, I imagine.  The suitcase also has an 'M' on it.

When you're a globe-trotting lucha libre star, you can just leave the airport and your car will be ready to take you to the arena.  All you have to do is get in it and drive it.  Kind of like in "Grand Theft Auto".  Mil just showed up and kind of went, "I'll drive this car."

Two of Cadena's henchmen and henchwomen follow Mil from the airport and try to assassinate Mil by throwing a smoke bomb in the convertible.  It works, but only makes Mil wreck the car.

Fans going to the wrestling matches see Mil and offer to help him.  He takes them up on the offer and rides with them to the arena.

Cadena hears that the two minions failed her, so she ties them up and whips them.

She's not playing around, either.

She whips the crap out of the henchman and the henchwoman.  Whippings seem to be a theme in some of these old school lucha movies.

And hair pulling.  Man, that Cadena's mean.

And we get the requisite lucha match that is a standard for lucha flicks.  The crowd even breaks into the traditional Mexican 'Rah-Rah-Rah' chant for Mil.  

So it's Mil vs. Dorrell Dixon and this is lucha rules, baby.  Two out of three falls for the win. 

Cadena and two of her henchwomen watch the match at ringside.  They have a diabolical plan to poison Mil Mascaras with a bracelet laced with poison.  It's on the wrist of the 'guerita' on the right.

And so we get highlights from the match, between shots of Mil's new friends and the anxious looks of the Angeles.  Mil wins the first fall via submission (Bear Hug).
Ref stops the fight for the opponent via submission, giving the second fall to Dixon.
But Mil wins with his signature 'plancha' for the third fall and the win.

As Mil goes to his dressing room, he chats it up with his new friends.  But the 'guerita' runs up to him and gives him a hug, scratching his belly with the tainted bracelet and runs off.  His friend tries to tell him he think the lady scratched him, but he blows it off saying its from the match.  He goes to his locker room and the most uncomfortable looking table ever.  Is looks more like a concrete table at a west side park in Uvalde.  Who built this locker room?

But he starts to feel the effects of the poison.  As it takes hold, he gets jumped by the Angeles Infernales in their party mask disguises!

As you might imagine, Cadena takes the opportunity to whip Mil with her 'cadena'.

They rip off his mask to see who it is.  But Mil has a failsafe mask underneath... that's kind of creepy looking.  Pantyhose, anyone?

As Cadena realizes that her attempt to kill Mil Mascaras fails, she cusses:  "Malditas!" she cries!

Back at the base, she curses Mil Mascaras, says she has his mask, but swears she will have his head.

Mil puts on another mask, considering he's "The Man of 1,000 Masks", and tries to identify the woman and the fun bunch that tried to do him in.  He says she has a voice that was 'grave' and 'cold'.  And he mentions he was assaulted with a 'cadena'.

As you might imagine, his new friends figure out she is Cadena, the leader of Los Angeles Infernales.  They plan to go to the club where they hang out and infiltrate it, using one of Mil Mascaras new friends, Estrella, as a spy.

Meanwhile, in a prison outside of town, a guy named Raco is waiting for a call from Cadena via an old toy piano.  Another prisoner, Gancho, is making fun of Raco for waiting for Cadena and listening to the toy.  And they are wearing the old school prisoner stripes outfit pajamas.  Also, Gancho means hook in Spanish.  If you're wondering who Gancho is, he's the dude with the hook hand.

Estrella finds one of the members of Los Angeles Infernales and asks if she can join.  Flirting with the man, he says he'll talk to Cadena.

She visits with one of the members of Angeles Infernales to try to infiltrate the group. He says he'll talk to Cadena, who is on the way to rob a businessman as he goes to the bank.

The man says she can join, but she has to be initiated first.  Also, while they talk, a group of people are playing with a large ball.  

Meanwhile, Mil has another match with Cavernario Galindo (Caveman Galindo).  This guy is wild and crazy, even biting Mil's shoe in a pin attempt.

During the match, Cadena makes contact with Raco and gives him the secret to escape the jail.  In the toy piano, there's explosives that he uses to bust the window bars and escape with Gancho, who is now his friend.

With the release of Raco, Cadena goes to Raco's mother's house and tries to extort money from her.  But it doesn't work.

Then, Estrella is initiated into the gang in a bizzare ritual lead by a wild-wig wearing Cadena.

They pour blood over an effigy of Mil.

She then pulls out a knife to initiate Estrella.

The ritual is complete with Modern dance and bongos.  Lots of bongos.  And a xylophone heavy soundtrack.

A lot of the shots were done with handheld cams.  It was as if the director said, "Just do the dance number, we'll get the shot with a stationary cam and handhelds."

She calls for Mil Mascaras death.  They cut a K in her back for Estrella.  Kadena makes Estrella swear she is devoted to the Angles and the death of Mil Mascaras.

Ricardo calls and says Estrella got initiated into the group.  Mil waits for Cadena around town.

Then, Cadena rolls up with her gang.  One of the funniest lines from the movie is then delivered.

Que quieres tomar?  (What do you want to drink?)
Un highball.  (A highball)

Then, they lure Mil to chase Kadena to their clubhouse.  As Mil walks around, Cadena calls him out.

This is also the outfit that El Caballero of The Rain City Superhero Movement needs to have as his ultimate goal for crimefighting.

He brings him to the bar for a toast, water.  He sees her poison his drink in the mirror.

A toast, then she tries to seduce him.  He tells her he "has a bad impression" of her, and he tells her he saw her poison his drink.

Then, its a Chase!

But it's a trap!  She leads Mil into a nearby warehouse where the cowled Raco, Gato, and Gancho are waiting.  They hide.

As Mil is in hot pursuit into the warehouse, he makes it very clear that it's very important to jump over things as well.

Raco Try to shoot him with an machine gun.

Cadena cusses again, shouting "Maldito!"  When she look to see if he is dead, she doesn't 'find him.  Gato and Gancho they try to hunt him down.

Mil jumps Gato and beats him up.  As he runs to hide after the frakas, he runs to a yellow can.  Raco shoots the can, thinking Mil is in it.  But it turns out Mil hid the body of Gato in it, and Raco killed him.

Mil escapes!  Raco blames Cadena.  But they will have their vengeance in the ring.

Estrella, looking every bit like the dolls you find at the pulga, tells Mil Raco is going to fight Mil in the ring.  And so, they fight.

Raco wins first fall

The Angeles watch from ringside, including Estrella.  One of the gang members sets up a poison kiss with toxic lipstick.

When Mil wins the second fall, the lady makes her move.

I have to admit, Mil doesn't really avoid it.  Estrella tries to stop the attack, but is stopped by Cadena.

Mil is about to win with an Indian Deathlock, but suddenly stops and get weak from the poison kiss.  He is sent to the hospital and the match featuring Mil, 'El Idolo de los Multitudes', is postponed for next week.  And it is going to be a Mask vs. Cowl match!

Doctor says the venom was best delivered through the mouth.  That's why the lady didn't die, because it never got in her mouth.  Okay there, doctor.  Okay.

Mil tries to get a measure of revenge by trying to enter the clubhouse, but get jumped and is run off.

Then, there's a contract signing for the Mask vs. Cowl match.

Cadena gets the team ready to get Mil, but pulls Estrella aside.  She knows Estrella is a mole, and sends her to the torture chamber.  A very smokey and mysterious torture chamber.

Cadena and Gancho take Estrella to a pit filled with acid.  That's right.  An acid bath that no supervillain should not have available at their disposal in their lair.  It's an acid bath that could leave nothing but bones

On to the Mask vs. Cowl match.  Mil wins first fall via submission, but as he waits for the second fall, Ricarod tells him he doesn't see Cadena or Esterella.

Estrella is hung over the acid bath until she admits her alliegience to Mil.

Mil wins the second fall, but Raco runs off before removing his cowl.  The arena goes crazy chasing after him, and Mil's friends get in a fistfight with Los Angeles.  That is until Ricardo gets a pipe and holds them at bay for the cops.

Raco makes it to the Acid Bath and says the cops are coming.  Then, Gancho and Raco fight it out.  Gancho wins.

But a torch begins to burn the rope holding Estrella up over the acid bath as Mil arrives.

But before Mil can save Estrella, he has to fight it out with Gancho!

Mil wins by pushing Gancho into a wooden board with fireworks and lights behind it.

Wait.  It's an electrical board that is apparently highly dangerous and fragile.  Because when Gancho is pushed into the wooden board Electrical board, Gancho dies in a flurry of flashes and fireworks.

Estrella is saved!

Raco's mom arrives with authorities and is sad.  Raco was given love, protection, and an education with his family, so says the mom.  And he turned out to be a turd.  A dead turd.

And it ends like a high school one act play, with all the loose ends tied up.  Cadena is captured.

And its back on the beat for Mil, who gets on his personal plane to fight another crime somewhere in the world.

The video I got was in Spanish, but its still enjoyable to watch if you don't understand the language.  These movies were meant to be fun, and this one definitely is.

I found mine new in a Spanish DVD bargain bin for about $3.  Seek it out if you can.  It's worth a look as a classic piece of lucha libre cinema.


Bowie Ibarra is the author of the "Down the Road" zombie horror series.  His upcoming book, "Pit Fighters: Baptism by Fire" is a combat sports themed book featuring a luchador who crosses over into MMA.

You can network with Bowie and check out his great Tex-Mexploitation works at 

1 comment:

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