The Pumaman 1980
I had never heard of this movie before starting this site and accumulating my big list of superhero movies to watch. And on top of that, I only recently found out that it was also an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which I did end up watching shortly after watching this movie proper. It’s a low budget movie produced in Italy about a hero with the blood of the Aztec gods running through his veins. But what it really amounts to is that this giant Aztec man gives him an ugly belt which gives him an ugly costume and the abilities of the Pumaman. This allows him to shred metal with his mighty claws like a puma, see in the dark like a puma, slow his heartbeat to feign death like a puma, fly like a puma, even teleport… like a puma. And there has to be a big bad villain to this whole story, which ends up being this weird bald guy who dresses like he’s in a bad sci-fi movie using an Aztec mask to put people under mind control.
If all that doesn’t sound bad enough, the special effects are atrocious. I mentioned that he flies… like a puma. As a sidenote, I have a vague urge to make a parody music video using clips of this movie and the melody of the Lonely Island’s song Like a Boss, replacing it with Like a Puma. Anyway, the flying effects are awful, where Pumaman is flailing about on a platform while the background footage flies around behind him. The worst part is when he hangs up one of the henchmen on… something, and all the pretenses of making it look like he’s flying go away and he just walks over to hang him on some sort of post and walks off screen. His seeing in the dark, which is only used twice, is done with the exact same look as the old Incredible Hulk television show.
The two heroes of the movie are Tony Farms, mild mannered scientist working at a natural history museum, and Vadinho, a member of the ancient Aztec aliens or something. Vadinho is a giant guy with a bad haircut who throws Tony out a window to prove that he’s Pumaman, since he survives the three story fall without any injuries. They’ve also set up that several people matching Tony’s exact same upbringing have been thrown out windows to their deaths. Of course, it’s later (kind of) revealed that those killings were done by the villain of the movie Kobras. But Vadinho tells Tony that he’s the Pumaman and he is there to help him learn his abilities, even though he only seems to tell him about them when after he actually needs to use them. Tony spends most of his time badly wisecracking his way through the movie, at least when he’s not whining about something or other. He is one of the most annoying heroes I’ve ever watched. And to top it off, every time he flies, he makes cat claws with his hands which looks absolutely ridiculous even if it’s really the only connection to a puma there is in the entire movie since I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a puma teleport or play dead. Vadinho, for being a giant of a man, ends up being easily subdued and beaten up throughout the course of the movie, excpet of course when the movie needs him to kick some ass. He also has his own somewhat magical powers when he calls on the Aztec gods with his necklace to heal his wounds and eventually leaves with them when they come back in their glowing Death Star replica spaceship.
As for the villain Kobras, which by the way any time someone mentioned his name I thought they were saying Cobra and I half expected Cobra Commander to show up at some point in time. Kobras has a tendency to wear these shiny sci-fi-esque outfits even though the movie is set in modern day England. Which also doesn’t make much sense when there’s only one person in the entire movie who sounds British. He has this ancient Aztec mask, which also has a circuitboard on the back behind a hidden panel, which proves that there was an alien presence in the world for some reason. And when he looks through this mask, he’s able to control the minds of other people, yet I have no idea how he knows that it’s able to do this. And also for some reason, every person that he uses the mask on it also creates a little wax replica of their head for him to put on his shelf so he can mind control them remotely. But even with this remote mind control powers, he still needs to use car phones to talk with his minions. There’s also some sort of plan involving all the world leaders, but none of them look like world leaders or even do anything except sit around at a table for a little while and then leave while Kobras is sitting in the other room looking at them through his mask.
A hero is not a hero unless he’s wearing a costume, and once Tony finally puts on the Pumaman belt, he’s instantly wearing his ridiculous costume, which is just a pair of khaki pants, an ugly gold belt, a shirt with a glittery gold mask on the front of it, and a red cape which is reversible and becomes a dark green poncho so he can go around incognito. Since of course it’s common to see people wearing green ponchos in the middle of England. Kobras practically has better fashion sence than this guy and it seems like he would fit right in with Riff Raff and Magenta at the end of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This movie is just plain bad. The acting is bad, the script is bad, the action is bad, the costumes are bad, the special effects are horrible. This is definitely one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, and doesn’t surprise me in the least that it was considered bad enough to make fun of in an episode of MST3K. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.