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Film / Puma Man

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That's no moon; that's the gods' spacestation.

Puma Man, also known as The Puma Man, The Pyooma Man, The Pyewmaymin, 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 papier-mâché 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 (Walter George Alton), an American paleontologist who is quickly discovered by Vadinho (Miguel Ángel Fuentes), 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 (Sydne Rome) 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 (or fly, the writers don't seem to be sure), teleport, and feign death quite convincingly - you know, standard puma stuff. Oh, and his fingers can act as super-strong "claws", which Vadinho belatedly remembers to mention in the middle of a major battle. And possibly super-strength, which he uses once to flip a car over and then never again. Anyway, with these skills in hand, Tony heroically attacks Kobras' mansion stronghold, is soundly defeated, gets caught by Kobras' hypnosis, retreats, loses his superpowers through Kobras' mental commands, 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, while Jane Dobson smashes Tony's papier-mâché head, removing Kobras' mental control over him and restoring his powers. Puma Man 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.

It was the featured film in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Puma Man contains examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Tony's dorky little Eurocompact counts, given that Vadinho can tear it apart with his bare hands.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Traveling in space bathyspheres. Who apparently look like pumas, have terrible taste in fashion, and tend to leave mind control artifacts laying around.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Type II (Animal Alias). His powers are only vaguely catlike, though.
    Mike: I don't mean to be picky, but pumas aren't really known for flying...
    • Vadinho does refer a few times to the Great God Puma, so Puma Man may derive thematically from a catlike Aztec god, not from the cat itself.
  • 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 (as Vadinho): 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!
  • Badass Normal: Again, Vadinho, though how "normal" he is (he's strong enough to rip apart cars with his bare hands, and can magically heal himself) could be up for debate.
    • Given the fact he is just a portly old man, Kobras is able to physically grapple with Tony during his attempted helicopter escape despite the fact Tony is both super strong and able to rip apart metal and stone with his "claws".
  • Bald of Evil: Kobras. "Someday I hope to be as bald as you, sir."
  • Brandishment Bluff: Vadinho bluffs his way into Kobras' mansion with a bomb strapped around his chest to get near Kobras' command center.
  • 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 MST3K version, Vadinho lifts up the back end of Tony's car off the ground to stop him from escaping, rips the lock and handle off of door of the car and once blocked inside, rips off the steering wheel and bends the gear shift to escape. Granted, Tony drives a tiny classic Volkswagen Beetle, but it is still impressive.
  • 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.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Puma Man's displayed powers include Super Strength, flight, teleportation, intangibility, the ability to see in darkness, a Danger Sense and the ability to send himself into a death-like coma.
  • Covers Always Lie: Take a good hard look at that poster up above. Now go watch the movie. Now laugh derisively.
  • Destination Defenestration: Remember, the best way to spot your local Puma Man is to chuck people out of windows until one of them survives. The film puts a little too much effort into making us wonder if maybe Vadinho's one of the guys who's chucking random Americans out of windows looking for the right one, with how he stalks around wordlessly looking all creepy, tearing through all obstructions with his bare hands to get to Tony, and then suddenly grabbing him and shoving him out a window. Since he actually works for the aliens sponsoring Pumaman, you'd hope he'd have less murder-y methods for finding the right guy at his disposal. It's clearly not Vadinho, however, as a glimpse at the two people, neither of them Vadinho, who throw one of the other victims out a window, but the movie doesn't go out of its way to make that clear.
  • The Dinosaurs Had It Coming:
    Jane: So dinosaurs became extinct because they no longer knew how to love each other. Is that right?
    Tony: Exactly. And I wouldn't want our species to end the same way.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Mask convinces Tony to commit suicide. Vadinho prevents it.
  • Dull Surprise: Tony Farms, for the most part.
    • At all times he has the look of a man who's been hit with a fish.
  • Dumb Blonde: She seems like a nice girl and all, but holy crap is Jane not the sharpest tool in the shed. It might by slightly justified as Jane spends most of the movie under Kobras' control.
  • The '80s: Though the film came out early on in 1980, meaning it had most likely been filmed prior to the end of The '70s, not to mention the disco-esque music & other things.
  • 11th-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!
  • The Fashionista: Jane has to wear a lot of very odd outfits — i.e., the "S&M Day at the Field Museum" look — and she pulls it off for the most part.
    Tom: A Zubaz top, a lab coat and a veil ... it works.
  • Glass Cannon: Tony is super strong and fast and can fly, but the one thing he's lacking from Superman's standard Flying Brick package is the immunity to bullets, so Tony has to dodge gunfire.
  • Herald: Vadinho, it's one of his jobs, telling the hero he's The Hero.note 
  • Healing Factor In the MST3K version, Vadinho's injuries from being beaten up by Kobras' mooks are unexplainedly healed. A scene removed from MST3K has him doing a ritual to heal all his wounds.
  • 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 raises 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 instead of shooting the Puma Man. But our "hero," Tony? Nope.
    • Villainous Valor: Once the tables have turned and Tony has Kobras in the eye of the mind-control device, even he is able to better resist it than Tony, leading to his escape.
  • 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 is satisfied with the information he receives.
    Mike: Help! I'm falling at a sixty-degree angle, breaking all the laws of physics!
  • Hot Scientist: Jane Dobson. Yes, really, Jane is supposed to be an archaeologist.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Vadinho has no superpowers (certain scenes cut from the MST3K version of the movie suggest that he might have super strength, but even that's questionable) but kicks about 2000% more ass and 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.
    Crow: So basically the hero is this guy, it's time we accepted that fact.
  • Idiot Hero: We're probably not supposed to come to this conclusion, but Tony is clearly not a bright man. His theory on the dinosaur's extinction also make one question his qualifications as a paleontologist.
  • 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.
    • His pose was probably intentional (he's trying to imitate a four-legged "pouncing" pose rather than a Superman-like flying pose), but the terrible special effects are probably not intentional.
  • Intangible Man: Tony can walk through walls as well as teleport.
  • Landmark of Lore: Stonehenge. Don't ask what it's got to do with the Aztecs.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Vadinho's got a pretty serious case of this. Which works, considering he's far more heroic than our titular 'hero'.
  • Leitmotif: The happy bouncy "flying" music. Mike and the Bots start writing lyrics for it after a while, as if it were a commercial jingle.
    Crow: When you want the flavor of bacon in a dip....
  • Legacy Character: The Puma Man is handed down from father to son, for at least two previous generations according to the film (Tony's father and grandfather).
  • The Load: Tony. Though, to his credit, he does figure out a way to find Kobras' mansion and even kills Kobras at the end, though with far more trouble than a guy with superhuman attributes should really have against an elderly man.
  • 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.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: When Tony is Faking the Dead, Kobra's Dragon suggests they plug Tony's seeming dead body to make sure he's dead. Kobras overrules him, saying it would point to murder, not suicide. Of course, the question must be asked: who would know and who would care? (It's been established that Kobras controls the police and government at this point.)
  • Mayincatec: The film creators apparently did a smattering of work on early American cultures and then threw it all out and went with whatever they thoughts looked cool.
  • The Mentor: Vadinho, although his teaching methods leave a lot to be desired.
  • Mighty Whitey: Vadinho is far more capable for a hero, but Tony is the main character, because.
  • Mile-High Club: With Tony And Jane at the end.
  • Mondegreen: Tony's friend Martin somehow mishears "Puma Man" as "Sandwich Man".
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling/Spider-Sense: Tony gets headaches when trouble's around. Well, sometimes; he still walks obliviously into traps and ambushes several times.note 
  • 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.
  • Neutral Female: Tony gets beaten up by thugs and Jane just sits around looking like she has a slight headache.
  • 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!
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: This is an Italian movie. Set in England. About an American. With Aztec superpowers.
  • No-Sell: Vadinho no sells a jump kick during the fight at the end.
  • Non-Action Guy: Puma Man, the hero who jumps around a little bit then lies down and lets Vadinho deal with all the hard 'hero' work.
  • Not Quite Dead: One Of Puma Man's powers.
  • Now You Tell Me: The world leaders ponder Kobras' security after they're already in his mansion and effectively in his power.
  • Older Sidekick: Vadinho.
  • Our Gods Are Different
    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!
  • Pinball Protagonist: Puma Man, the Chosen One, does absolutely nothing of use throughout the movie, besides killing a little old guy. It's Vadinho who gets the real action.
  • 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!
    "Sam Elliot is Ted Turner in The Gregory Peck Story!"
  • Power Incontinence: Once Kobras gets a hold of Tony's mind, he starts affecting his powers before attacking his mind.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Apparently doing the nasty while hovering in mid-air is "the only way to make little Puma Men."
  • Rear Projection: Dear God is it misused for major Special Effect Failure. Note to producers: keep the camera steady for the flying sequences.
  • 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 Puma Man" on your resume or anything...
  • Satellite Love Interest: Jane. A character so lacking in personality that she barely qualifies as a cardboard cutout. And yet she still manages to prove herself to have more Heroic Willpower than our "hero" by managing to resist Kobra' mind control when he was completely unable to.
  • Shaped Like Itself: During the introduction, the gods assure us that the Puma Man will have all the powers of... a Puma Man (thereby justifying New Powers as the Plot Demands).
  • Single Line of Descent: The opening narration by the space-god establishes that all of his son's male-line descendants should be Pumamen, but Tony is apparently the only one.
  • Sissy Villain: Kobras. And yet our "hero" Tony barely manages to take him in a one-on-one fight.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The main theme would be more at home with a contemporary sitcom than a superhero film.
  • Spheroid Dropship: The Ancient Gods' ship, which on the poster is rendered suspiciously similar 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 wearing when first introduced.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Inverted. The Puma Man 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.
    • It's inconsistent whether he's supposed to have actual super-strength, or just super-strong finger "claws" to rip into things. It's mostly shown as the latter, but at one point he lifts up a car and flips it over.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Those starfaring Aztec god-aliens.
  • Superhero: We use the trope here loosely.
  • Super Hero Origin: His dad was secretly a Puma Man; 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.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Belt.
    Mike: You know, my mom had a pair of earrings that did the same thing.
  • Trickster Mentor: Vadinho
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: At one point, Tony teleports into his friend Martin's fire truck and asks him for a "position indicator." Martin has no idea that Tony became a superhero up to this point, but seems only mildly surprised by Tony's outfit (he thinks it's an advertising gimmick, including misremembering Tony's superhero name as "Sandwich Man") or by the fact that Tony just teleported into the seat next to him.
  • Upgrade Artifact: The Belt. Tony has some powers before he puts it on, but the belt unlocks the rest.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: When Kobras's thugs find Tony playing dead, one of them suggests putting a bullet in him to make absolutely sure. Kobras says no, because he wants it to look like an accident, although since by this point Kobras has mind-controlled half the government, you have to wonder why. Put another way:
    Mike: [as Kobras] No, that would be cheating.


Example of: