Monster Man [2003]

Casa Negra's latest Mexican horror re-release, The Man and The Monster, is a direct hybrid of Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Wolf Man. Professor Samuel Magno (Enrique Rambal), cursed by his decision to exchange his soul for being the world's best pianist, plans to heal himself by passing the torch to Laura, his student prodigy. Laura happens to be a doppelganger of Magno's former competitor, Alejandra, who he killed and has stored in his closet. Alejandra's rotting face looks uncannily like Barbara Steele's in Black Sunday, leaving one to wonder if this film inspired Bava's puncture-wound look. The crux of the tragedy occurs when Magno's curse takes effect, whereby he can play piano gorgeously but not without turning into a hideous, hairy, wolf-like monster. The Man and the Monster is all about the transformation scenes, time-lapsing hair, fangs, and facial crags that are as humorous as they are scary. Made the year after El Vampiro, director Rafael Baledón's film could possibly share castle sets. It relies on the same narrative trope in which an outsider, Ricardo Souto (Abel Salazar, who also played the similar character in El Vampiro), intervenes to solve the mystery and rescue the woman. However, there is always room for more cinema investigating Faustian bargains. --Trinie Dalton

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