About Lou Aguilar

fiction writer, screenwriter, filmmaker, journalist

The Travesty Story

 One Saturday night in the summer of ’76, I abandoned a group of pot-smoking friends (I didn’t inhale) to watch the weekly Creature Feature that played on UHF Channel 20 in Washington DC.  I don’t recall what the feature was, but I’ll never forget what followed it.  Count Gore De Vol, the program’s vampiric host, had introduced a new segment: amateur horror/sci-fi movies made by local filmmakers.  Even though I’d refused the pot, I found myself getting high on Attack of the Paramecium Men.  It was a silent, black-and-white slapstick short (with jazzy music), featuring three leather-clad greasers who first evade and then defeat the humanoid paramecium. It was, in the word of Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride, “inconceivable.”

One month later, on Pre-Orientation Day at the University of Maryland, I began my inevitable future as the compleat film auteur.  I was enrolled as a film major and found myself in the company of a single fellow “auteur.”  He was a Woody Allen-type, only taller, and looked just as bewildered as me.  We struck up a conversation, and he casually mentioned that he’d made a number of 16mm shorts.  One of them had even aired on Channel 20.  It was, of course, Attack of the Paramecium Men.  I hailed him like a brother, and from that moment on my life took a turn for the comedic.

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El Santo: An Appreciation (plus an audio review of Santo in the Wax Museum)

Fifty years ago, a new movie superhero entered the national consciousness.  The nation was Mexico, and its hero was the masked wrestler known as El Santo.  After first gaining prominence in the ring and then in comic books, Santo next took on the challenge of film.  It was in this medium that the wrestler would cement his legend as a larger than life action hero.  It quickly became clear to movie producers that puny human villains no longer presented Santo with a proper challenge, and so in his first two films (a low-budget double bill), Santo is pitted against supernatural and science-fictional foes, Cerebro del Mal (Evil Brain) and Santo Contra los Homres Infernal (Santo VS the Infernal Men).  The movies were hits in Mexico, and Santo’s appeal soon extend beyond his native Mexico.

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David Carradine Remembered (plus audio clip)

The past year called away some screen notables, including Karl Malden, Van Johnson, Jennifer Jones, and Patrick Swazye, but two deaths struck me particularly hard.  One was that of David Carradine, whom I knew, and the other Jacinto Molina, AKA Paul Naschy, the Spanish horror film star whom I hoped to meet.  Both men made indelible impressions on me in the dull and dreary 70s, although their unique talents outlasted that decade.

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