|release date||November 30 1957|
|starring||Enrique Rambal, Abel Salazar, Martha Roth, Ofelia Guilmáin, Ana Laura Baledon|
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde gets some south of the border flair in this 1959 film from legendary producer/star Abel Salazar (BRAINIAC) and Mexican cult filmmaker Rafael Baledón (CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN). Enrique Rambal stars as Samuel Magno—THE MAN AND THE MONSTER (EL HOMBRE Y EL MONSTRUO)—Magno sold his soul to the devil to become the world’s greatest pianist. The price for fame and adulation—whenever Magno fingers the ivory keys of his grand piano, the music that unfurls releases a horrible beast, transforming the maestro into a fang-toothed, bloodthirsty, madman with only the singular desire to be a preeminent musician, despite the horrific collateral damage he inflicts on his innocent victims.
Following up his new production company’s prior-year success with THE VAMPIRE and THE VAMPIRE’S COFFIN, producer Salazar once again continued to mine the old Universal Studio’s vein of easy profits from monster movies. This time, Salazar and his production team really hit on the notes that reverberate throughout the golden age monster oeuvre. Near the end of the film, Magno is coaxed into playing a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture for a young girl (Ana Baledón). The tragic suspense in the moment directly echoes the lakeside horrors in James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN—adding a bleak humanity to the monster and a note of heartbreak to the film.
The storyline follows reporter Ricardo Souto (Abel Salazar) as he travels to interview legendary pianist Magno for a piece on his newest student Alejandra (Martha Roth). Roth plays dual parts in the film as both Alejandra and as Laura, Magno’s greatest student and the victim of his first bouts of rage and jealousy. As Alejandra’s recital approaches, and the grotesque monster begins attacking locals and threatening the life of the gifted student, it doesn’t take long for Souto’s investigation to uncover the teachers horrific other self—setting up a musical climax that’s equal parts THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
Gorgeously photographed by workhorse cinematographer Raúl Martínez Solares (NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES) the film bears all the earmarks of the gothic ambience that Salazar would make prominent in his late 50’s, early 60’s genre catalogue. Favoring the simple set-ups and cross-pollinated cast and crews preferential of the classic Hollywood studio system, Salazar cranked out nearly a dozen slick horror films and cemented Mexican cinema as a solid resource—ripe for picking by US importers like Sam Arkoff’s American International Pictures—for filling out double bills and late night television creature features.
THE MAN AND THE MONSTER is another brilliant addition to the growing line of legendary Mexican cinema from the crew at CasaNegra Entertainment. The DVD boasts a beautiful transfer with only the slightest hint on print damage and a stellar score—this is especially noticeable in the films final concert hall sequence. The bonus features include cast biographies, radio spots, still and art galleries and a superb slide show presentation highlighting some of the finest pieces in Mexican horror & fantasy theatrical poster art, making THE MAN AND THE MONSTER a great addition for the collections of world cinema junkies and quirky horror cinéastes.