The Null Device


Sunday Photo Feature #03: decoration on traffic-light control boxes in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, 2003:

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Tonight I went to the ACMI's Latin American Film Festival screening of Santo y Blue Demon contra El Doctor Frankenstein, a 1974 Mexican film pitting two masked wrestlers against a mad scientist abducting women for use in brain-transplant experiments. Taken by itself, it would be just another bad film, only with subtitles. The plot is corny and riddled with holes and the production looks cheap. However, it makes a fascinating cultural artifact. It was one of 60 films made starring Santo ("The Saint"), a famous masked wrestler who became a national hero of sorts in Mexico; other films had him going up against zombies, mummies, Martians, vampires and the like. In some ways, the film is reminiscent of an episode of the old Batman TV series, only grounded in a Latin American culture, which places a premium on honour and chivalry. The sets included the usual sci-fi villain's-lair sets, replete with stylish furniture, sliding doors, shiny metal corridors and "computers" with panels of rhythmically flashing lights, which explode in showers of sparks when hit by a wrestler-thrown henchman. Oh, and the music was fairly typical '70s genre-film music, with theremins and dissonant vibraphones and kettle drums and such. Anyway, it was somewhat amusing in places, though some of that was probably due to the somewhat iffy translation of the subtitles, and much of the rest due to the cross-cultural thing ("look! it's a guy in a suit and a mask sitting in a restaurant!").

The film was introduced by an Australian bloke in a sequined Mexican wrestling mask, who gave a brief history of lucha libre, as the sport is called there, and of the phenomenon that was Santo, which was somewhat interesting.

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Apparently killing zoo animals isn't just an Adelaide thing; some nutter has been poisoning zoo animals in Sao Paolo, Brazil:

Victims over the past week include monkeys, golden-headed lion tamarinds and more than 30 porcupines. Three chimpanzees, an orang-utan, three tapirs, four camels, an elephant and a bison died during the previous month.

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