The Panther Women – Indicator

uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/1000016487-220x275.png" width="220" height="275" srcset=" 220w, 456w, 768w, 900w" sizes="(max-width: 220px) 100vw, 220px" />Director: Rene Cardona
Screenplay: Alfredo Salazar
Starring: Ariadne Welter, Elizabeth Campbell, Tongolele (as Yolanda Montes ‘Tongolele’), Eric del Castillo, Manuel ‘Loco’ Valdes, Eda Lorna, Genaro Moreno (as Jenaro Moreno), Maria Douglas, Gerardo Zepeda
Country: Mexico
Running time: 88 min
BBFC Certificate: 12

Cuban-born director Rene Cardona directed more than 140 films in Mexico, ranging from children’s movies to horrors. He was also an actor, producer and screenwriter who made a number of films in the wrestling crime fighters genre; movies about colourful and flamboyant acrobats solving crimes, like Batman and Robin. In March 2024 Indicator brought us three of these on lavish limited edition Blu-rays – The Bat Woman, Santo vs the Riders of Terror and this film, 1967’s The Panther Women.

The plot revolves around an ancient curse enacted by a cult of witches who are hell-bent on taking out the youngest descendant of a family who killed their leader Eliom, whom the witches resurrect as a gloriously grim skeleton, wonderfully brought to life by gruesome makeup. The cult includes the titular shape-shifting panther women.

Masked Mexican wrestler The Angel (Zepeda) plus female wrestlers The Luchadoras (characters who appeared in five films, this being the fourth in the series), Loreta Venus (Welter) and The Golden Rubí (Campbell), try to track down the cult to stop their plans in their tracks. Cue an old fashioned mystery that takes its time to play out as the cult tries to kidnap and take out the youngest member of the family that killed their leader, whilst the wrestlers and police try to solve the mystery of the cult.

It’s a reasonably atmospheric film, particularly the scenes in the crypt where the cult’s lair is based; one scene in particular oozes eeriness as a coffin opens and Eliom rises from it. That creepy atmosphere is bolstered by an ominous score by Antonio Diaz Conde, and the costumes for the monsters – the panther women of the title and the cult’s leader Eliom – are low budget but quite something and are very endearing.

There are several scenes of wrestling bouts – the plot stops dead for a female wrestling match about an hour in as our heroines take on a masked tag team. I’m a wrestling fan but this almost tested my patience, though towards the end of that match the plot thankfully picks up again, wit the masked team turning out to be the panther women.

There are some decent fisticuffs in some of the non-wrestling match fights, that play out like the 60s Batman series without the jazzy music and letters filling the screen as the punches hit. Editing and camerawork are frenetic during these and other scenes which means the film is never boring and the cinematography means it is often a very beautiful picture; some of the graveyard sequences are like paintings.

The acting is solid throughout with particular mention for the high priestess of the cult who is played with gleeful menace by Maria Douglas; she and the simply astonishing and iconic Tongolele as Tongo steal every scene they’re in and their characters’ scenes are the best parts of the film.

The Panther Women is a very atmospheric and fun entry in the Mexican wrestling subgenre of films that range from crime fighting to spookfests. It takes its time to get going before an incredibly rushed finale, but there’s plenty of atmosphere along the way and it’s well worth a watch for that performance by Tongolele.


The Panther Women is released on limited edition Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films on their Indicator label on 25th March 2024. The restoration is excellent with the black and white visuals simply looking gorgeous, allowing the beautiful cinematography to really shine bright. There are also no issues with the soundtrack.


2K restoration from the original negative

Original Spanish mono audio

Audio commentary with the publisher of From Parts Unknown and screenwriter of Los campeones de la lucha libre, Keith J Rainville (2024)

Let Them Fight! (2024, 15 mins): the Killer Film, el critico enmascarado (the masked critic), lucha libre specialist, and filmmaker behind the Monterrey female wrestlers documentary La femenil, discusses the protagonists of the film, the cine de luchadoras, and the controversial history of Mexican female wrestling

Cat Fight (2024, 24 mins): academic and Latin American horror specialist Valeria Villegas Lindvall, also known as Morena de Fuego, examines the struggle for empowerment and the subversive representation of the female characters in the film

Original theatrical trailer

Image gallery: promotional and publicity material

New and improved English translation subtitles

Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Iain Robert Smith, archival essays by Janina Möbius and Ricardo Cárdenas Pérez, an archival interview with Guillermo Calderón, and full film credits

UK premiere on Blu-ray

Limited edition of 8,000 individually numbered units for the UK and US

The number of extras is small but what’s provided is first class. First up is the commentary by Keith J Rainville, which is fantastic. He provides an overview of the series of Luchadoras films, fills us in on some of the wrestlers who appear, and explains how the wrestling scenes were used to pad out the movies. There’s a wonderful whistle-stop overview of Mexican wrestling, and we also get a great run through of the origins of Mexican wrestling films, details of the cast and crew and so much more. The wrestling elements were the most fascinating to me but there’s plenty to glean. An outstanding commentary.

Let Them Fight! is a great 14 minute piece in which the masked critic provides an overview of the Luchadoras films, the female wrestlers who appear in the film. We also learn about the Angel character, including the man who portrayed him. Fascinating stuff.

Cat Fight is an excellent 24 minute piece by Valeria Villegas Lindvall which looks at the female characters, their costumes, the lighting, iconography of Mexican cinema, and the kinship between Mexican films and Italian movies of the time. There’s also an engaging section on the costume design of the film. Another great extra.

The on-disc extras conclude with a four minute trailer and an image gallery of more than 40 production stills, lobby cards and posters.

The booklet is another incredibly rich, rewarding and valuable one from Indicator. It opens with a new essay by Iain Robert Smith which provides a rundown of the genre, background to the series of films and more, concluding with the treatment of Mexican wrestling films on home video. Next is a fabulous archival look at Mexican wrestling by Janina Mobius. Another top notch archival article is from Ricardo Cardenas Perez, who looks at the origins of Mexican female wrestling before looking at their transition to films. The booklet closes with an informative interview with producer Guillermo Calderon.

In closing, The Panther Women is another entertaining and atmospheric slice of classic Mexican cinema, which features some iconic performances, some creepy elements, an intriguing tale and a delicious score. It’s the latest excellent release of classic Mexican cinema on the Indicator label, which provides an outstanding 2K restoration and a small but valuable selection of extra features.


The Panther Women - Indicator
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