Casimiro (German Valdes AKA Tin Tan) is the night watchman at a wax museum of horrors. Most of the time he just sleeps. The owner of the museum is Professor Sebastian (Yerye Beirute). He is also a mad scientist who is experimenting on raising the dead. So far with no luck. All his experiments have failed. To cover up what he is doing he covers the dead bodies in wax and puts them in his museum. The professor has two minions, Nacho (Alfredo Wally Barron) and Rito (Agustin Fernandez). They dig up the dead bodies for the Professor to try to revive and assist him wherever needed.
One of the professor’s tools is what he calls a re-hydrating device that he uses to give new life to dead tissue. He thinks that if he gets a mummy and re-hydrates it he can bring it back to life. He wants to make a trip to Guanajuato where all the mummies are and steal one. Of course he needs a new brain for the mummy. That’s why he keeps Casimiro around. The professor also has a device he calls an atomic controller that looks a lot like a radar gun. He believes that with it he can control his zombies. He wants to create an army of walking dead people and rule the world.
The professor hears about an Egyptian mummy that was found and is going to be exhibited. The origins of the mummy are a mystery. It is believed the mummy was responsible for the deaths of many people. There is a legend that because of the death of one of its victims the mummy is cursed and periodically comes back to life and turns into a werewolf when the moon is full. Professor Sebastian and his minions attend the discussion of the exhibit. At one point during the exhibition Rito turns off the lights. The professor and his henchmen steal the mummy and race away.
Professor Sebastian tries to raise the mummy (Lon Chaney Jr.) but he fails. He leaves the lab with the mummy on a table. During the night a bolt of lightning revives the mummy. It gets up and staggers around the room and ends up at the window. It looks up at the sky and sees the full moon. The mummy changes into a werewolf and begins his rampage.
“La Casa del Terror” AKA “The House of Terror” was released in 1960 and was directed by Gilberto Martinez Solares. It is a science fiction/horror film and a comedy. Many of these Mexican horror films were released in America or sold on DVD but only in Spanish. Due to fans of these types of films some of them have been subtitled into English, by those fans, so that others can love them too. Reportedly the fan responsible for the subtitles for “La Casa del Terror” is someone with the moniker Fredegis.
Chaney’s transformation effects into the werewolf was done similarly to the way Universal did their effects where Chaney had to hold his face still while the slow dissolves turn him into the werewolf. The special effects were done by Jorge Benavides. Lon Chaney Jr. does not speak through the entire movie.
The comedian Tin Tan is well known in Mexico having done over a hundred movies, many of them horror films. He plays the lead and reluctant hero Casimiro. Whatever his comedic shtick is it doesn’t seem to translate very well in the subtitles which is probably a good thing since I’m not a comedy fan and I did enjoy the film. Yes it’s over the top and silly but you do get a mummy, a werewolf and a mad scientist so lots of the boxes get checked.
Professor Sebastian makes a reference to taking a trip to Guanajuato. During a cholera outbreak in Guanajuato, in or around 1833, the many dead were quickly buried to prevent disease. The climate of the area caused the bodies to naturally mummify. The bodies were disinterred between 1870 and 1958. The disinterment was due to a burial tax that families had to pay to keep their loved ones in the ground. If the tax wasn’t paid, the body was stored. The tax was abolished in 1958 but there were still lots of mummies in storage. If you have mummies you have tourists. Eventually a museum was created to house them, the “Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato”. They have a website. In total there is somewhere around a hundred and ten mummies but only about half are on display.
Sometime in the mid sixties Producer Jerry Warren began buying Mexican films and, channeling Roger Corman, began to cut and paste them together with additional footage to give birth to his own version of Frankenstein’s monster. “La Casa del Terror” was one of the movies that Warren got his hands on. Combining footage with that of “La Momia Azteca” 1957 and his own footage he brought forth into the world “The Face of the Screaming Werewolf” 1965. To do that he edited out almost all of Tin-Tan’s comedy routines and kept most of Chaney’s stuff. The resulting film was only an hour long as opposed to La Casa del Terror’s one hour and twenty-two minutes. We’ll look at "Screaming Werewolf" another time.