Although it's set in 1956 (April, to be exact), the only modes of transportation in THE HEADLESS RIDER were horses and a stage coach but that's not the only head-scratcher in what's basically a bad Mexican western loaded with horror movie tropes. A secret brotherhood of monk- robed, skull-masked assassins kill any rancher who tries to sell his land and only one thing stands in their way -a Zorro-esque phantom in a white suit and black ski mask that makes him look headless in some shots. By day he's a sombrero-wearing cross between Clark Gable and Cantinflas and there's an illogical explanation for all the other supernatural goings-ons, from a disembodied hand to a reanimated corpse. The four songs are as out-of-place silly as everything else but they did remind me I have a Bollywood horror movie coming up soon.
The second in the series, THE MARK OF Satan, opens with a song before getting down to business with an executioner's ax that flies through the night, a family curse, and an inheritance scheme that was too convoluted for me to follow. No matter- enter "the Headless Rider" and his roly-poly sidekick to sort things out. There were five musical interruptions, er, interludes this time but at least a couple of the supernatural happenings were just that and there's even a little gore, too.
The third film in the trilogy, THE HEAD OF PANCHO VILLA, is a three- episode serial with very little horror trope outside of bats and skeletons and this time there's only three songs. Six comrades who fought with Pancho Villa and were saved from an ambush by "The Headless Rider" need his help again when a secret sect in black Ku Klux Klan robes kidnap and electrocute them one by one to get their hands on a mysterious black box the men are protecting. What's in it is not what you'd think from the film's title, oddly enough- the box contains an ancient Aztec secret that enabled Pancho Villa to win the Revolution and whoever possesses it can do the same. Patterned on the Saturday afternoon serials from their uber-influential neighbors to the north, there's a cliffhanger at the end of each episode and the fourth wall is broken so's "The Headless Rider" or his sidekick can speak directly to the audience and keep us up to snuff.
There's something for everyone in this "super hero" trilogy: music, romance, comedy relief, and lots of cheesy Churubusco chills for the kiddies but the crazy thing is, that's not who these films were intended for.
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