The high-flying men and women of classic popular Mexican cinema will return to the Plaza Theatre during the second installation of Cine Fantástico.
The celebration of Mexican film will take place Saturday, Oct. 12 and is part of Chalk the Block.
In Cine Fantástico’s inaugural year, the masked Mexican hero El Santo’s restored 1961 film “Santo Contra Cerebro del Mal” returned to the big screen.
This year, a masked female hero takes the big screen in a restored version of 1968’s “La Mujer Murciélago” (“The Batwoman”), in Spanish with English subtitles. The film and two others have been restored by Mexico’s Permanencia Voluntaria Film Archive. “Santo Contra Hombres Infernales” (“Santo Versus the Infernal Men”) and Mexican film’s first horror movie, “La Llorona,” will also be shown.
Cine Fantástico also celebrates the contributions of the Calderón brothers, Mexican film producers who also owned theaters in El Paso and Juárez, including Downtown’s Colón Theatre. The Calderóns produced many of the films starring Mexico’s most popular luchador, El Santo.
The work of Permanencia Voluntaria Film Archive has been funded in large part by the Paso del Norte Community Foundation’s Permanencia Voluntaria Film Fund.
Its work is led by Viviana García Besné, a descendent of the Calderón brothers. García Besné will participate in Q&A’s, led by El Paso film host and Cine Fantástico co-founder Charles Horak, before each film. Here’s a Q&A with García Besné.
Q: Why is “La Mujer Murciélago” significant?
We were the first to begin restoring luchador films, which are a significant part of Mexican cinematic history. The first movie we restored was El Santo’s first film and for the second film, we wanted to restore a film with a female luchador (actress Maura Monti). It is one of my favorite films. I have the pleasure of knowing Maura, so that gave it an advantage.
It’s a great homage to her and her work. It’s one of (acclaimed Mexican film director) Guillermo del Toro’s favorites and it had a big influence on his movie “The Shape of Water.”
Q: Why is it important to preserve these types of popular film?
These are movies that were beloved by audiences. These three movies may not be the best, most technically made films, but they performed their function, which is to entertain people.
These are movies for families. Everyone can enjoy them and they weren’t just loved by Mexican audiences they were loved worldwide. They are a reflection of popular culture at that time.
Q: What about on a personal level?
I’ve loved this movie since I was a little girl. I grew up in the house where parts of it were filmed, it was my grandmother’s house. I thought the monster in the movie lived in a part of the house they wouldn’t let us go and it would come out to bathe at night.
I dreamed of being a luchadora when I was young. I wanted to be a woman who could defend myself like they do.
Q: Tell us about “La Llorona” and “Santo Contra Hombres Infernales.”
“Santo Contra Hombres Infernales” is El Santo’s second movie, it’s the sister movie to the movie we showed at the first Cine Fantastico, “El Santo Contra Cerebro de Mal.”
They were filmed at the same time in Cuba, just before the revolution reached Havana. The history of these movies is remarkable. “La Llorona” is the first Mexican horror movie with sound.
The Caldedón family appears in the movie, the children of José Calderón, owner of the Colón Theatre, were all from El Paso and Juárez and there’s a scene at a party where all of the children are seated at a table.