By Doyle Greene
Following the nationwide and foreign upheaval and tragedy in 1968, Mexican "trash cinema" started to shift clear of the masked wrester style and in the direction of darker, extra specific motion pictures, and irritating visions of the trendy international: motion pictures that are known as "avant-exploitation." This paintings covers six of these movies: El Topo, Mansion of insanity, Alucarda, Guyana, Crime of the Century, Birds of Prey, and Santa Sangre.
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Additional info for The Mexican Cinema of Darkness: A Critical Study of Six Landmark Horror and Exploitation Films, 1969-1988
In destroying the Four Masters he also destroys himself: a self-destruction prompted by El Topo’s succumbing to the wiles of the woman. To the extent El Topo is not only an epic for the counterculture but about the counterculture experience, Mara and the sinister Woman in Black (who will be discussed at length shortly) represent the malevolent force of feminism emerging in the counterculture movement—the dangerous Sirens of the counterculture. A slender man with long hair and a bushy moustache, the First Master represents Eastern religion, a pervasive influence on counterculture idealism.
One of the bandits inflates a balloon and sets it on the ground. As it slowly deflates, Jodorowsky constructs and parodies the classic Western gunfight montage: close-ups of steely eyes and stoic expressions; twitching hands next to holstered guns; dramatic long shots surveying the scene; and, of course, the squeaking, shrinking balloon that, when fully deflated, will signal the commencement of the shootout. After a flurry of loud gunshots and jump-cuts that fragment the action to the point of incomprehensibility, two bandits slowly tumble off their horses dead, and El Topo shoots the gun from the third bandit’s hand—a parody of the classic Western cliché, as well as symbolic castration (The Man from Laramie).
In a surreal addition, the Third Master’s farm is entirely populated by white rabbits—all of whom promptly die when El Topo arrives. Beyond the counterculture reference (Jefferson Airplane’s anthem of the Psychedelic Revolution, “White Rabbit,” itself derived from Lewis Carroll’s pre-surrealist Alice in Wonderland), Jodorowsky explained, “The rabbit is also a solar symbol of reproduction ... they were killed by a disease ... by El Topo. ”60 Indeed, the “plague” that El Topo carries with him which kills the symbols of fertility is his own “diseased” manhood and sexuality being steadily “infected” by Mara’s influence.
The Mexican Cinema of Darkness: A Critical Study of Six Landmark Horror and Exploitation Films, 1969-1988 by Doyle Greene