THE RIDER OF THE SKULLS (aka: El Charro de las Calaveras)
Dir. Alfredo Salazar, 1965
80 min, Mexico
In Spanish w/ English subtitles
A masked rider (not Zorro) arrives in a sleepy Mexican villa in the midst of a slew of vicious werewolf attacks during what seems like a solid month of full moons. The Rider is given lodging by a señorita and her young son - Perico - who appear to be the next targets of the flannel-clad lycanthrope. The Rider, with the help of a local witch dispatches of the monster who <SPOILER> turns out to be the boys father. As he rides off into the sunset with Perico by his side one may expect the credits to roll but don't rise from the opulent comfort of your seat just yet, viewer, this adventure is far from over. The Rider (now taller and with a different mask) along with the help of a new boy and their manservant Cléofas (the films "comic relief") fight a vampire in some highly unconvincing day for night photography. It's worth mentioning that the vampire not only has the giant head of a bat but also has the power to change into an equally unconvincing rubber bat and flies off. Finally, The Rider faces his deadliest foe yet when he teams up with a woman in possession of the cabeza of none other than the Headless Horseman and his two robed skeleton henchmen leading to a machete fight at sunset.
Director Alfredo Salazar is best known for his contributions to Mexican horror in the form of many, many Santo/Blue Demon movies as well as penning such psychotronic fare as THE NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES and the should-be classic THE MAN & THE MONSTER (produced by and starring his brother Abel). Star Dagoberto Rodríguez had a 30 or so year career in Mexican film and television which is more than likely the reason he removes his mask and reveals his identity in the middle of the film. Due to it's "monster of the week" feeling and suspicious change of companions/mask/location/etc the working assumption is that THE RIDER OF THE SKULLS is actually three episodes of a serial stitched together to make it feature length. Nevertheless, Salazar wears his love of classic Universal monsters on his sleeve and creates a film unlike any other.
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