• The Man And The Monster (Casa Negra) DVD Review

    Released by: Casa Negra
    Released on: April 24th, 2007.
    Director: Rafael Baledon
    Cast: Abel Salazar, Enrique Rambal, Maricarmen Vela, Laura Baledon, Deelia Guilmain, Marta Roth, Jose Chavez, Carlos Suarez
    Year: 1958
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    The Man And The Monster – Movie Review:

    Rafael Baledon’s The Man And The Monster is an interesting Mexican take on Goethe’s Faust in that it tells the story of a man who makes a bargain with the devil to get what he really wants. In this case, the man is Samuel Magno, a piano player to gives Satan his soul in exchange for unsurpassed skills on the ivories (he’s kind of the Robert Johnson of Mexican pianists!). What Magno doesn’t know is that every time he plays his most popular song, a sinister change will take effect and he’ll morph into a horrible monster. Magno hopes to make amends for a crime from his past that continues to haunt him, hoping that if he sets things right he’ll win his soul back from the devil but he soon comes up with a more sinister plan in which he hopes to win his soul back in exchange for that of an innocent woman that he hopes to take on as his protégé.

    Directed with a fair bit of style by the man responsible for the amazing The Curse Of The Crying Woman, we once again have a uniquely Mexican film that, while it plays with genre conventions and story ideas originating from Europe, definitely puts a ‘south of the border’ spin on things. The film deals with themes of matronly control and maybe even some Oedipus-complex issues if you want to read more into it than was likely intended by the filmmakers. Obviously Faust and Dr. Jekyll And Mister Hyde played a big part in the story but throwing in some local flavor and style helps set the film apart from the other countless variations on a similar theme. The locations and the hyper-stylized gothic atmosphere lend the story some legitimate mood and atmosphere that contrasts interestingly against the manic scenes in which the transformed Magno hammers away at his piano and rants and rages almost like a werewolf.

    Pacing wise, Baledon’s film keep things moving at a good click. The cast does a fine job with the material (look for the omnipresent Abel Salazar, probably the most recognizable face in the history of Mexican horror movie cinema as Magno’s noble concert promoter) with Enrique Ramball making the most out of what is essentially a dual role for him. His interaction with the various supporting characters, his mother in particular, are some of the more interesting parts of the picture and it’s fun to see him play the part differently depending on who he’s dealing with in any given scene. The monster make up effects are more than a little on the goofy side by today’s standards but there’s a strange sort of charm to them that makes it all work – the influence of the classic Universal Wolf Man films of the forties is undeniable. You won’t believe any of it even for a second but that doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it.

    The Man And The Monster – DVD Review:

    The movie was shot for a fullframe presentation which is how it is shown on this DVD, with a brand new transfer that has been taken from original vault elements which has been very nicely cleaned and restored. Casa Negra has obviously put some serious effort into making this transfer as clean and as nice as possible and it shows and their transfer is very, very nice. Print damage has been all but completely eliminated save for a trace of grain here and there, and the black levels stay strong throughout.

    The original Spanish language track is here in Dolby Digital Mono alongside the English dubbed track. Dialogue is clean and clear and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion though the Spanish track is definitely in better shape than the English one. There are spots where things sound just a little flat but that’s not surprising considering the age of the movies and there really isn’t anything to complain about here in terms of the audio presentation. The optional English subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read and no obvious typos were evident.

    Just like with the release of The Living Coffin, the extras on this release are definitely on the slim side compared to previous Casa Negra discs, but we are treated to some cast biographies, a decent still gallery, an English language radio spot used to advertise the film during its U.S. run, animated menus and chapter stops.

    The Man And The Monster – The Final Word Review:

    The extras are light but the transfer is solid and The Man And The Monster proves to be a whole lot of spooky late night fun. Not a classic, but certainly a very entertaining film with some nice atmosphere and great effects, this is one that fans of Mexi-Horror should really get a kick out of.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      This one is a fun watch. We do have a "flying cat" scene or two, if you are on the look for things like that. This does have a great opening scene and doesn't drag too badly.