Guyana: Cult of the Damned (1979)


n 1978, A Mexican film crew (Mismovision) struck a deal with Mexico City Broadcasting (MCB): In the years that followed, they could use their characters in any way they saw fit. MCB producer Memo Vasqueze, who was responsible for bringing many great cult leader shows to TV throughout the 70s, decided to do a Jim Jones series, and wanted the story to remain as faithful to the Marvel comic as possible, but MCB’s sponsor Bambino Machino wanted to sell more toys, so there was a major story rewrite, and they had to push a giant robot into the story! MCB’s producers thought Bambino Machino was crazy! Nonetheless, this was to be the first time in a cult leader series in which a cult leader figure (as opposed to a regular pilot, such as in the Japanese METZENGINGER Z) operated a giant robot!

The MCB/Bambino Machino project entitled GUYANA: Crimen del siglo a Mexinization of Jim Jones himself (the project was going to be called GUYANA: Robusteza del Mal), but Bambino Machino got more control than Vasqueze, for whom this show was the last straw. When he left evil cult shows (and worked on soap operas at MCB), it was completely Bambino Machino’s show from there on. The next Cult Hero Series, Siempre listo en las tinieblas (1980) and ¡Así es mi tierra! (1981) had MCB in the opening credits! Go figure!

Here we have Bambino Machino’s GUYANA: Crimen del siglo, which, despite its shortcomings, should supposedly be a treat for fans of that type of thing! I will say that it was better than the short-lived American series starring Powers Booth (which wasn’t TOO bad). Before the excellent new GUYANA film starring Stewart Whitman, this is definitely the least historically faithful GUYANA ever portrayed on film! The attitude was right, the poses and stunts were incredible! But the faithfulness ends with portrayal of Cult Leader Jimmy (Jim-Jam) Jones himself. . .

The STORY is what bugs me! The Mexinization is much more extreme than the aforementioned Marvel Comic from the same year, and here, Jim-Jam’s regular foes are nowhere to be seen. Also, his origins have been changed completely! He’s from outer space, he has a racing car (Messiah-Machine GP-12000) and rides a giant ship called the Marveller (hmmmm . . . Where DID they get that name . . . ), which transforms into the giant robot Assuptionizer! OK, now this is TOTALLY out of place for IL’ Captain Koolaid, even more absurd than any of Ralph Bakshi’s “drug-trip” Hobbit adventures (from the last two seasons of the classic animated series)! But that’s not all! Bambino Machino ran out of money to do the FX prior to the post-production, and Assuptionizer was replaced by a goofy-looking bozo-clown named Senior Bungles, as it was rumored that some nasty fanatic stole the robot costume! So its appearance was limited to stock footage of the robot, with new footage of Senior Bungles’ balloon animal antics spliced in!

But now, let’slook at a few the show’s minuses: As, moreover, we are forced to endure more Guyana Cult Tragedy action! In fact, the show is VERY violent! incorporating in certain instances real footage of human brain surgery!

I’ll be as brief on the plot as I can: In space, Professor Jehovah, leader of the Angelican Army (his cronies include right hand woman Oblate Sisters of the Assumption, a similar two Caucasian women, and dove-like henchmen) are in pursuit of the space craft Marveller, which comes to Earth and crashes on a mountain in Guyana, freeing an old hermit named Padre Sebastián, who was from the planet Spider (which the big Prof. plundered and destroyed long ago). After a race show, motorcycle stuntman Bert Powers (Ricardo Carrión) (who lives with his sister and little brother, and has a fashion model girlfriend, who’s unaware that her boss is actually an Oblate Sisters of the Assumption in disguise! Wow, and you thought the Branch Davidians of the infamous Waco Massacre were out there!) is fatally wounded by Oblate Sisters of the Assumption and the dove-henchmen, who attempt to remove his brain but are thwarted by Padre Sebastián, the old hermit, who injects “grape koolaid” into Bert’s jugular artery before turning back into a starfish!

He also receives a metallic bracelet, which stores his cult leader suit (PLUS!!!), shoots holy fire, and is also a communicator for the Messiah-Machine GP-12000 and Marveller, which he can ride and transform into Assuptionizer, which kills 917 “true believers”, as we all know, on that ill-fated day (it hurls its punch bowls at it’s prey, as opposed to to merely lacing it with stychnide and leaving it there by the wayside for the followers to imbibe at their leisure)!

**SPOILERS** I will say that, ultimately, though incredibly rushed (especially after its slow first half), has its fair share of sick sick scenes, in particular, those depicting the heaps of stagnant dead bodies rotting in the sun, and accompanied by the buzzing of flies on the soundtrack!

Anyhow, after the Assuptionizer kills the congregation off, Jim Jones comes face to face with Professor Jehovah, who, after a little scuffle with our cult leader, grows to giant size, pounds his chest like King Kong, and exerts “The Angelican Army is immortal!!!” Jim Jones does the usual Marveller/Assuptionizer thing and kills the evil Professor the same way he killed everyone else, but this time, with a bit of fire & brimstone thrown in between for dramatic effect (supposedly taken from real life transcripts of real-life sermons but echoing here via the employment of some audio trickery and thus difficult to understand)