El pueblo fantasma (1965) Poster

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A mad Mexican mix of western cliché and vampire lore
melvelvit-110 October 2011
A mysterious gunslinger called the Rio Kid appears out of nowhere to kill any hombre foolish enough to boast that he's the fastest draw in the Mexican west and Texan, the son of an infamous bandido, sets out to track down the phantom and redeem his family's honor. Joining him on his quest are Nestor, an old-timer seeking revenge after doing a long prison stretch because of the Kid and the Rivero brothers, who want to make a name for themselves as gunfighters. They converge on San Jose, a ghost town held in a grip of fear by the Kid, and soon find out they're up against the supernatural...

These atmospheric, black and white antics are a classic example of south-of-the-border insanity, an outré blend of Western clichés and vampire lore. The Rio Kid is a handsome black-clad devil two centuries old who tracks down trigger-happy outlaws so he can drink their blood (thus ingesting their prowess) and is something of a frightful folk hero (he even saves a gypsy girl from rape) until the few remaining townspeople discover the awful truth. Some plot threads wouldn't have been out of place in a straight western, including the romantic rivalry between Texan, a hero-in-the-making who has to live down accusations of cowardice, and the fiancé of Nestor's daughter as well as the timeless themes of revenge and the reclamation of a town under the thumb of a bad man. There's also quite a few Universal horror clichés as well: the tavern on the edge of town is full of superstitious locals warning strangers not to go out at night and the Kid, who can change into a bat at will, rises from his cemetery crypt nightly and can't see his reflection in a mirror. His fangs hang down to his chin when feeding and there's silver bullets, stakes through the heart, and a gypsy wagon with an old blind man whose dancing daughter falls under the vampire's spell as well. There's also a song, "The Ballad Of Manuel Saldivar", that's sung throughout the movie and it makes Texan very upset whenever he hears it because it's about his father -he single-handedly beats up a mariachi band who plays it and almost has a breakdown when the gypsy girl does a rendition. The movie plays -and looks- like a DESTRY-themed episode of GUNSMOKE with a vampire and it's a most amusing way to spend an hour-and-a-half, that's for sure.
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