Daily Archives: March 6, 2019

Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957)

*. Curse of the Aztec Mummy is the second of three Mexican films all shot at the same time and released as a mini-serial. The first film was The Aztec Mummy and the next The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy. Just for the sake of completeness, The Aztec Mummy was recut with additional footage with an American cast included for U.S. release and retitled Attack of the Mayan Mummy (1963). A fourth instalment, Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy (1964) isn’t related to these films at all.
*. In any trilogy — and the same holds true for novels as it does for films — the middle work is usually the weakest, being just a way of marking time after the first instalment and the conclusion. Curse of the Aztec Mummy very much fits into this scheme, though it’s not without some redeeming features.
*. The story picks up where The Aztec Mummy left off. Criminal mastermind Dr. Krupp (a.k.a., The Bat) is in police custody but his gang soon bust him loose. Then he kidnaps Dr. Almada’s girlfriend Flor and hypnotizes her again into leading him to the mummy’s tomb. There the mummy (his name is Popoca) is let loose and foils the gang’s plans.
*. It’s a hopelessly cheap, ineptly made film that only has entertainment value for laughs today. I did say it had some redeeming features though, so here goes.
*. In the first place, it correctly realizes that the mummy himself isn’t a very interesting figure. He rarely is in a mummy movie. So they’ve built a story around him here involving a whole lot of other nonsense, including a long-range radio wristwatch and a death room whose floor withdraws to reveal a pit of snakes beneath. In fact, Popoca doesn’t even put in an appearance here until the last ten minutes of the film.
*. The ludicrously stiff dialogue is another source of fun. When the evil Dr. Krupp is slapping the nobel Dr. Almada, who is tied to a chair, around he forcefully rebuts the accusation of cowardice. “I don’t doubt for a second that you’re plenty of man. I’d be glad to try you out, I have a pair of fists that could break your head. But right now I want to get something that’s more important. After it’s mine I promise that you and I . . . I want to fight you, doctor. Alone!”
*. Probably the best (meaning the most wonderful and ridiculous) element added is The Angel: a crimefighting figure decked out like a professional wrestler, complete with a mask and cape. It’s a costume that’s both silly and impractical, as it keeps getting in his way when he’s trying to throw punches. In one fight scene it even gets pulled all the way around so that he’s forced to wear it like a bib.
*. I’m not sure why this figure has been so popular in Mexican pop culture. El Santo is the seminal figure but I think his first movie actually came out a year after this one. Nevertheless, he was already a famous personality on the wrestling circuit so the Luchador enmascarado (masked pro wrestler) as hero wasn’t that big a breakthrough.
*. The Aztec Mummy trilogy have since gone on to achieve a kind of cult status, which they probably deserve. They really are odd. But despite being only an hour long with quite a bit of plot to get through I found Curse of the Aztec Mummy to really drag in places. We get some stuff borrowed from the first movie explaining who Popoca is and then some dull passages relating to Flor’s hypnosis and Dr. Almada’s translation work. Meanwhile, The Angel gets beaten up and captured so many times it’s almost humorous in how repetitive it becomes.
*. An oddity then, and not without some laughs, but not a good movie. Only conoisseurs of trash will want to seek it out.