The Man and the Monster (1959)

aka El Hombre y el monstruo
Article 1884 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-12-2006
Posting Date: 10-9-2006
Directed by Rafael Baledon
Featuring Enrique Rambal, Abel Salazar, Martha Roth

A musician sells his soul to the devil in order to become the greatest pianist in the world. However, there’s a catch; whenever he plays his favorite number, he turns into a murderous monster.

This movie has a great beginning. A woman crashes her car into a tree. She goes out looking for help, and hears piano playing from a nearby house. She knocks on the door of that house, and the playing stops. Suddenly, someone inside the house begins knocking on the door to get out, and a voice begins pleading with the woman to unlock the door. It is then she notices the keys lying outside the house…

I’m not sure if the impact of this scene really registers in the above description, but it is one of those beginnings that really piqued my curiosity and caught my attention, and any movie that can do that in the first couple of minutes is on the right track. I consider this one of the best of the Mexican horror movies; it has some surprising revelations, an interesting story, and a real sense of mood. It does have its problems, however; the dubbing does work to its disadvantage, and the monster makeup is (with its Cro-Magnon nose, its Groucho Marx eyebrows, its badly set teeth, and its protruding tongue) more likely to induce guffaws than chills. Still, look past these problems, and you have an effective little chiller. Abel Salazar (THE BRAINIAC ) produced the movie and appears as its hero; for some reason, I find the horror movies that he’s connected with to be some of the more interesting ones from Mexico, though not always the best; after all, he also gave us THE LIVING HEAD .


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