GRAVE ROBBERS aka LADRONES DE TUMBAS (1989)
Another Mexican horror from Rubén Galindo Jr. This one opens in Mexico at the time of the inquisition. The church’s executioner (Agustín Bernal) has turned against God to worship Satan and himself is killed by his own axe before he enacts a sinister ritual. With his last breath, he proclaims that some day he will return and finish what he started. In modern (well…1989 Mexico) times, a group of youths are robbing graves and stumble upon the treasure filled crypt of the monks and the executioner. They remove the axe from his chest and soon he is walking the earth once again, slaughtering anyone in his path, while searching for a virgin to complete his ritual. The only one standing in his way is local police captain Lopez (Fernando Almada), a descendant of the archbishop who originally slew the executioner, whose virginal daughter Olivia (Edna Bolkan) is exactly the maiden the fiend is looking for.
Fun and gory horror is directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. from a script with Carlos Valdemar. Much like their Cemetery of Terror collaboration, this flick is atmospheric, very bloody and very 80s. Galindo knows his tropes well and we get creepy old graveyards, cobweb filled crypts, fog shrouded churches and an abundance of well rendered gore. The plot is a bit loopy, with an axe wielding walking corpse looking for a maiden to knock up in Old Scratch’s name, but Galindo directs it seriously…but not too serious…and simply knows how to present the horror traditions well. The 80s fashions and electronic score give the film some fun 80s nostalgia, and even if it gets a bit silly, it is visually atmospheric and does have some very spooky moments, along with some gruesome kills. The undead executioner makes for a solid fiend/villain complete with supernatural powers and the cast are all fine for this type of horror hi-jinx.
Grave Robbers might a bit goofy at times and it’s story might be more silly than scary, but it’s the skilled direction of Ruben Galindo Jr that keeps it spooky and bloody fun. He is very aware of the classic horror film traditions and knows how to use those elements very well. The film takes itself seriously, but not too serious to not have a good time. The film is visually impressive and atmospheric, the cast just fine for what they have to do and the gore effects are abundant and well done. Another solid Mexican horror from Ruben Galindo Jr and another obscure title available on Blu-ray from the awesome folks at Vinegar Syndrome.
Rated 3 (out of 4) axes!