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Mexican Wrestling Macbeth

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Mexican Wrestling Macbeth, The Mammals, at Bailiwick Arts Center. The Mexican wrestling film defies easy description. Part Republic serial knockoff, part Cormanesque pastiche, part Rock'em Sock'em Robots, the subtropical subgenre, which had its heyday in the 60s, starred actual wrestling superstars, generally playing themselves--except with comic-book crime fighting powers. Imagine a brooding shot of a no-budget reproduction of the mist-shrouded Transylvanian principality that thrived on the Universal backlot in the 30s, complete with crosses and guttering torchlight. Stick a man in a silver cape and wrestling mask in the foreground. Then pull back to reveal his encircling enemies: zombies, werewolves, crime bosses, witches, martians, Aztec mummies, kidnappers... you get the picture.

Generally the Mammals have high-art tricks up their low-art sleeves, but here they tilt toward pure silliness. When would-be leading lady La Diabla Azul doesn't get the part in a Luchadores Enmascarados version of Macbeth, she seduces ambitious assistant director Jorge (the excellent David Stinton), and one folding chair later they're on top of the world--until masked leading man Samson (Santino Jimenez) smells a rat. Nodding to the conventions of stateside viewing, writer-director Bob Fischer structures this as an adventure in bad dubbing, with dialogue provided by three offstage actors while the crew onstage clumsily lip-synch. Tighter counterpoint might make this funnier, but for audacity alone it's a laudable choice, and when it works it's comic gold. Similarly, making Lady Macbeth a burly she-male (company stalwarts Ron Kroll and Derek Smart, in another pair of perfectly over-the-top turns) is a fine idea, but other cross-casting dilutes the effect. The gloriously stupid slam-bang finale, however, reduces these to minor quibbles.

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