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ANALOG ABATTOIR: Looking Back at Rubén Galindo Jr.’s Satanic Slasher, “GRAVE ROBBERS”

Sunday, February 4, 2024 | Analog Abattoir, Retrospective


Starring Augustin Bernal, Fernando Almada and Edna Bolkan
Written by Rubén Galindo Jr. and Carlos Valdemar
Directed by Rubén Galindo Jr.
Vinegar Syndrome 

Life can be so unpredictable. One minute you are grave-robbing a crypt for treasures and using your supernatural-sensitive girlfriend to find gold, the next, you unwittingly resurrect a Satanic executioner whose one goal is to impregnate a virgin with the Antichrist. Just another Tuesday, am I right?

GRAVE ROBBERS (or LADRONES DE TUMBAS, if you are working on your Duolingo) is the work of Mexican horror maverick Rubén Galindo Jr. The son of prolific Mexican director and producer Rubén Galindo, he has recently come into greater prominence for his 1980s horror output. Credit must be given to distributor Vinegar Syndrome for releasing Galindo’s answer to Lucio Fucli’s Gates of Hell trilogy. The films include GRAVE ROBBERS; Cemetery of Terror, which stars schlock favorite Hugo Stigiliz (Tintorera), and Don’t Panic, starring an unforgettable pair of dinosaur jammies. The throughline for all three films is Satanic Evil manifesting as a slasher – and all three films scratch a different itch. However, GRAVE ROBBERS speaks to me the most because of its themes, aesthetics, and overall execution.

The introduction is an instant sell, as we witness a candle-lit, underground chamber where a burly figure prepares a woman, strapped over a drawing of a pentacle, for a Satanic sacrifice. The barbarian-sized cultist inscribes the Number of the Beast into the woman with a dagger. However, before he can complete the ritual, holymen discover and subdue him. Revealed as an executioner for the Inquisition-era church, he is condemned, with his axe driven into his chest by the Archbishop. With his last breath, the executioner promises to return from the grave to seek vengeance and complete his mission of creating the Antichrist.

Smash cut to the late 1980s. Here, we get a setup akin to a Friday The 13th flick since different groups converge at the setting of future carnage. One includes the local sheriff’s virgin daughter (see where this is going?) and her gal pals on a camping trip conveniently close to the graveyard. The other is the titular grave robbers, who incite the massacre to come. They also all dress like characters from a Streets of Rage movie adaptation. Led by the impetuous Manolo and assisted in finding treasure through supernaturally gifted Erika, our grave-desecrating teens stumble upon a familiar underground crypt. Within lies the gold they seek. Removing the axe from the desiccated body in the tomb, Manolo unwittingly resurrects the Satanic executioner. Reborn as a ghoul, the killer descends on the surrounding area, attempting to make good on his last living proclamation. What follows is a bloodbath of gruesome axe murders and supernatural powers that manifest as Evil Dead-esque hyperviolence.

From the character design of the executioner (who looks like a Tombs Of The Blind Dead Templar on HGH( to the delightfully gory kills, GRAVE ROBBERS is slasher gold, hacking its way to the final battle between good and evil. The elements of black magic and supernatural forces create a multi-faceted threat to the characters. Whereas many slashers suffer from unnecessary exposition or plain old filler to pad the runtime, this flick moves at a clip and the effects-heavy violence gets its due. The movie feels like a labor of love. Rubén Galindo Jr. has great admiration for the ’80s slasher genre, and it shows in the pitch-perfect direction. Watching GRAVE ROBBERS for the first time feels like listening to a seminal thrash metal band like Slayer on cassette – mean, lean, and full of shock-rock bravado with just the right amount of background static to give it texture. So, crank that volume knob to 666 and embrace the blasphemy!

Death to false horror,
Dr. Benny Graves

Benjamin Grobshteyn
The thrash metal Marc Maron, Dr. Benny Graves serves as arch-fiend of the analog abattoir. With a deep love for shock rock, schlock horror, and dead media, he can often be found searching the wasteland for the right SOV horror to sate his lust for trash-cinema. Dr. Graves resides in the unholy circle of hell known as New Jersey.