Last week, we looked at the sociopolitical climate that lead to Mexican cinema creating cine de ficheras, an extremely low budget latsploitation subgenre that basically served to test new, more relaxed censorship laws. Although that came to an end fairly quickly, what came after is still around today. The Mexploitation films of the late 80s already knew where the boundaries of language and nudity were, so they all tried to provide as much of those elements as possible. Sadly, no new ground was being explored and the budget limitations were the same, so the results were less than spectacular. A perfect example of such a film is Los Gatos de las Azoteas (The Cats of the Roofs), a 1988 film by writer and director Gilberto Martínez Solares.


Mexico, 1988, Gilberto Martínez Solares

Los Gatos de las Azoteas has one of those plots that resemble a collection of smaller comedy sketches brought together to make a movie. The main character is Juan Camaney, a man who helps run a small store and makes deliveries on his bike. The other three characters are Lorenzo, a married man who constantly cheats on his wife; Julio, an elderly engineer who likes every woman he sees; and Akenatón, a violent tarot and palm reader who thinks he’s the the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten and wants every lady that visits him to be his slave. The four characters interact in the same building and neighborhood and the resulting scenes are what make up the movie. For example, Julio likes to use his binoculars to spy on the women in the building across from his and ends up witnessing some of Akenatón’s murderous behavior.

Although the plot is nothing special, the film does offer a few interesting scenes simply because the situations presented are weird and the characters (i.e. a guy dressed like a pharaoh, an angry dwarf, women dressed in crazy costumes and wigs, etc.) keep the eye entertained. Unfortunately, with no new boundaries to push, this film, like others in the late 80s, relied on larger-than-life characters that can get tiresome to watch. Despite the unnecessary energy and screaming, what truly makes this film one hard to recommend is that the dialogue is so full of slang that comprehension is only achievable to those who have been in contact with it before. In the first five minutes, curse words and insults make up about three quarters of the dialogue. This is not a problem in itself, but the fact that the insults and words used are almost always the same means that it gets boring after a while.

If you’re bored one day, watch Los Gatos de las Azoteas. Some of the humor is enjoyable, even the slapstick that a couple of police officers bring the three times they’re on screen (think of The Three Stooges slapping one another and you get the idea). Also, there is a bit of death and plenty of nudity. However, if you want latsploitation with better writing and an actual story behind the mayhem, stick to the comedies that came out in the first half of the 80s.