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"Are pumas known for their whining?"—Mike
Puma Man, also known as The Pumaman, The Puma Man, The Pyooma Man, Thepew Maymen, or L'Uomo Puma, is a 1980s superhero movie produced by Italians in English.
The plot? Our villain is Dr. Kobras (Donald Pleasence in a shiny futuristic muu-muu), who has gotten his hands on a huge golden Aztec mask, which contains alien circuitry that allows it to control minds. He plans to use it to dominate world leaders, and already has a collection of paper-maché heads signifying his mental conquests. Only one man can stop him: the eponymous Puma Man, the scion of a line of "man-gods" sired by ancient spacefaring Aztec alien puma things. He's an American living in nearby London, so Kobras sets off to determine who his foe is by hurling potential candidates out of windows. Only the Puma Man could survive that, y'see.
Our hero is Tony Farms, an American archeologist who is quickly discovered by Vadinho, an Aztec priest of the space-gods. The hulking holy man becomes Tony's mentor by hurling him out a window, chasing him around a university, and breaking into his apartment to aggressively push his belief system and fashion accessories. Tony is understandably reluctant to get involved in all this, but after mind-controlled love interest Jane Dobson is used to lure him into a trap, Tony finally accepts his heroic destiny and a magical Aztec belt, transforming into the mighty Puma Man!
Now firmly allied with Vadinho, Tony sets about mastering his puma-derived superpowers to get the sacred mask out of Kobras' hands. He can see in the dark, sense danger, "leap" great distances, teleport, and feign death quite convincingly - you know, standard puma stuff. Oh, and super-strength, which Vadinho belatedly remembers to mention in the middle of a major battle. Anyway, with these skills in hand, Tony heroically attacks Kobras' mansion stronghold, is soundly defeated, retreats, loses his superpowers, is nearly Driven to Suicide by Kobras' mind games, and heroically plays dead until the villain's minions go away.
Vadinho then leads his own assault against Kobras, using a suicide belt to bluff his way inside. The Aztec resists the villain's hypnotism and demolishes his command center, removing Kobras' mental control over Tony. Pumaman quickly teleports to the rescue and hops around in the background while the Aztec takes down wave after wave of mooks, prompting Kobras to make a run for it. In the end, Tony is barely able to overcome an elderly bald man and cause Kobras' helicopter to crash, the golden mask is recovered, Vadinho gets beamed up by the alien-god-things, and Tony and Jane join the Quarter-Mile-High Club.
Puma Man contains examples of:
- Ancient Astronauts: Traveling in space bathyspheres.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Averted. Vadinho refers once or twice to "The Great God Puma," meaning that Puma Man was named after the god. Really could have been specified better, though...
Mike: I don't mean to be picky, but pumas aren't really known for flying...
- Angel Unaware: When Vadinho is about to leave with the aliens at the end, a question occurs to Tony.
Tony: Tell me the truth, Vadinho; are you one of them?
Crow: Who, me? No, I'm Jewish.
- Badass Native - Badass Preacher: Admittedly Vadinho's a preacher of the most ridiculous religion since Happyology, but it still counts!
- Bald of Evil: Kobras. "Someday I hope to be as bald as you, sir."
- British Accents: Donald Pleasence has one, of course, and there's a Running Gag relating to his use of the British pronunciation of the word "puma" (phonetically "pyooma", as opposed to American "pooma").
- But Now I Must Go: The gods at the beginning of the film. later, Vadinho, who hitches a ride back to the Andes Plateau from the gods when the mask is recovered.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: In a scene deleted from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, Vadinho lifts up Tony's car off the ground to stop him from escaping, and once locked inside, tears the car apart to escape.
- Chest Insignia: If Tony ever forgets what the MacGuffin looks like, he can just look at his shirt.
- The Chosen One: Tony, allegedly. But everyone knows the real hero of the story is Vadinho.
- Chroma Key: Badly, badly done.
- Covers Always Lie: Take a good hard look at that poster up above. No go watch the movie. Now laugh derisively.
- Destination Defenestration: Remember, the best way to spot your local Pumaman is to chuck people out of windows until one of them survives.
- Driven to Suicide: The Mask convinces Tony to commit suicide. Vadinho prevents it.
- Dull Surprise: Tony Farms, for the most part.
- Dumb Blonde: She seems like a nice girl and all, but holy crap is Jane not the sharpest tool in the shed.
- The Eighties: Hardly the worst example, but still.....
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Because his mentor forgot to mention that "your hands are claws" during the earlier orientation. Though Tony might have been able to extrapolate this from his name if his powers weren't so random.
- Faking the Dead: Heroically! Witness as Puma Man fakes his own death so Kobras will leave him alone and he can let Vadinho do everything!
- Follow the Leader: This movie was made to cash in the success of the first Superman movie.
- Herald: Vadinho, it's one of his jobs, telling the hero he's The Hero.
- The Hero: Vadinho. He's the only one who knows what's going on, and he's the only one actually effective in battle. In a scene cut from the MST3K version, he displays enough strength to lift the rear wheels of Tony's car off the ground to keep "the hero" from escaping, and is able to tear his way inside. Which begs the question: why does he need the whiny git in the first place?
- Heroic Willpower: Vadinho, naturally has the willpower to resist the mind-control device. Even Jane is able to overcome it and smash it instead of shooting the Pumaman. But our "hero," Tony? Nope.
- High Altitude Interrogation: Puma Man grabs one of Kobras's mooks and flies him up high in the air and repeatedly drops him to lower heights until Puma Man in satisfied with the information he receives.
- Hot Scientist: Jane Dobson. Yes, really, Jane is supposed to be an archaeologist.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Vadinho has no superpowers but does most of the heroics that theoretically should be performed by our hero. Plainly, the movie should've just been about him in the first place.
- Idiot Hero: We're probably not supposed to come to this conclusion, but Tony is clearly not a bright man.
- I Meant to Do That: There's a debate whether the movie was intentionally trying to be goofy with the way Puma Man flies. MST3K's Paul Chaplin believes this was a form of subtle humor on the part of the filmmakers while the rest of the writers believed everything was done seriously.
- Intangible Man: Tony can walk through walls as well as teleport.
- Kneel Before Zod:
- Landmark of Lore: Stonehenge. Don't ask what it's got to do with the Aztecs.
- Leitmotif: The happy bouncy "flying" music. Mike and the Bots start writing lyrics for it after a while.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Vadinho's got a pretty serious case of this.
- The Load: Tony. Though, to his credit, he figured out a way to find Kobras' mansion and even killed Kobras at the end.
- MacGuffin: The Mask. Doubles as a Mind Control Device.
- Magical Native American: Vadinho uses a ritual to heal himself after taking a beating, is strong enough to tear apart a car barehanded, and has the gods on speed-dial.
- Mayincatec: Do the filmmakers know anything about the Aztecs?
- Mile-High Club: With Tony And Jane at the end.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling/Spider Sense: Tony gets headaches when trouble's around,
- Neglectful Precursors: Despite Vadihno's claims that "Each man is free" as a mantra of the gods, they left a mask on Earth that controls people's minds.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Since the Puma Man's powers are never actually defined, pretty much anything he does counts as this. He will constantly be informed of another power just in time for him to use it right then and there. He even discovers the power to temporarily die right when Kobras is trying to make him do just that.
- His powers are whatever Vadinho tells him his powers are.
- A superhero based entirely around the Placebo Effect? That sounds like a way better movie than this!
- His powers are whatever Vadinho tells him his powers are.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: This is an Italian movie. Set in England. About an American. With Aztec superpowers.
- Non-Action Guy: Puma Man, the hero who jumps around a little bit and then lies down.
- Not Quite Dead: one Of Pumaman's powers.
- Now You Tell Me: The world leaders ponder Kobras' security after they're already in his mansion and effectively in his power.
- The Obi-Wan: Vadinho, although his teaching methods leave a lot to be desired.
- Older Sidekick: Vadinho
- Old Shame: It shouldn't be surprising Donald Pleasence once declared this the worst movie he was ever part of.
- Our Gods Are Greater
Mike: Whole Bible thing? Bunch of hooey. It's all about aliens and spinnin' globes.
- Percussive Prevention: When a de-powered Tony tries to stop Vadinho from going on a suicide mission, the priest floors him with one punch.
Servo: Yes! The Aztec speaks for all of us!
- Pointless Doomsday Device: While not technically a doomsday device, the mask is capable of controlling men's minds. For a race that has as a motto "Each man is a god, each man is free," there seems to be no conceivable reason for the aliens to have created this.
- Porn Stache: Worn by many of the villains. May explain some of the awkward sequences. (Maybe not.)
Servo: My mustache makes me fall sideways!
- Power Perversion Potential: Apparently doing the nasty while hovering in mid-air is "the only way to make little Puma Men."
- Rummage Sale Rejects: The Puma Man - Khaki slacks and a half-cape/poncho?
Mike: They gave him the Captain Dork costume by mistake.
- Secret Legacy: Not that you'd want to put "the Pumaman" on your resume or anything...
- Shallow Love Interest: Jane.
- Shaped Like Itself: During the introduction, the gods assure us that the Pumaman will have all the powers of... a Pumaman (thereby justifying New Powers as the Plot Demands).
- Sissy Villain: Kobras
- Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes: Tony is a Type I loser all the way and comes back with about twelve t-shirts to prove it.
- Spheroid Dropship: The Ancient Gods' ship, which on the poster is rendered suspiciously-similarly to the Death Star.
- Space Clothes: Kobras' shiny futuristic muu-muu thingy. Which is actually an improvement over the sweaty leather S&M jacket he's introduced to us in.
- Strong as They Need to Be: Inverted. The Pyumaman can tear apart an old Jaguar (car) with his bare hands and rip into a brick wall, but has trouble overcoming Kobras in a struggle.
Mike: So, ripping through metal doors, no problem; subduing stocky senior citizens, that's another story.
- Although in his defence, Donald Pleasence once killed Isaac Hayes.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Those starfaring Aztec god-aliens.
- Superhero: We use the trope here loosely
- Super-Hero Origin: His dad was secretly a Pumaman, then one day an Aztec introduced him to defenestration.
- Survival Mantra: "Each man is a god...each man is free...each man is a god..." it helps Vadinho resist the mask's mind controlling power.
- Teleporters and Transporters: One of Puma Man's many powers.
- Theme Music Power-Up: A bouncy little synthesized tune that surprisingly fits the goofiness of the superhero.
- Too Dumb to Live: One of Kobras's henchmen tries to shoot Tony during the previously-mentioned High Altitude Interrogation. For once in the movie, Tony is justified in calling someone else an idiot.
- Trickster Mentor: Vadinho
- Upgrade Artifact: The Belt.