La momia azteca contra el robot humano (1958)

ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY, THE (La momia azteca contra el robot humano)

(director: Rafael Portillo; screenwriters: Guillermo Calderon S./Alfredo Salazar/story by Alfredo Salazar; cinematographer: Enrique Wallace; editors: Jorge Bustos/Jose Li-ho/J.R. Remy; music: Antonio Diaz Conde; cast: Ramon Gay (Dr. Eduardo Almada), Rosita Arenas (Flor Almada/Xochi), Crox Alvarado (Pinacate), Luis Aceves Castaneda (Dr. Krupp), Enrique Yáñez (Dr. Krupp’s Henchman), Jorge Mondragon (Dr. Sepulveda), Arturo Martínez (Tierno, Krupp’s henchman), Emma Roldan (Maria, the housekeeper), Julien de Meriche (Comandante); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Guillermo Calderon S.; Alpha Video; 1958-Mexico-dubbed in English)

“A bad horror pic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

By the title you would think it’s a wrestling flick. Instead it’s a bad horror pic (for some it can be one of those “so bad it’s good films”). It’s the third in a trio of ludicrous mad scientist mummy films made in Mexico by no-budget studio American International. There were two versions made, this dreadful English one and a superior Spanish one. Mexican director Rafael Portillo’s (“Bloody Sea”) spooky film is so schlocky and incredibly asinine, that there’s something to be admired about making such a terrible picture (stilted acting, lame screenplay, poor pacing, poor production values and being overall awkward) and agreeing to have it released with your name on the credits.

In the preamble a voiceover tells us in all seriousness: “How far can the human mind fathom the mysteries of the hereafter? No one knows. This film is based on an extraordinary scientific experiment carried out by Dr. Hughes and Tony from the Institute of Hypnotherapy of the University of Los Angeles. Its authenticity is beyond any doubt. The testimony of the persons involved will prove its veracity. Its cinematographic version has reality and fiction intertwined.”

The film then spends the next 25 minutes in flashback showing sequences made up of scenes from the first two movies. These flashbacks take place in the home of a psychiatrist named Dr. Eduardo Almada (Ramón Gay), who has invited over two colleagues to hear him tell his bizarre story. Almada is a researcher who wants to use hypnosis so a person can return to his/her past life. But Almada is laughed off the stage by his scientific colleagues when presenting this to a psychiatry seminar five years ago. Not daunted, Almada has his pretty then-fiancée Flor (Rosita Arenas), now his wife, be his subject. With the help of her father Dr. Sepulveda (Jorge Mondragón) and Almada’s loyal assistant Pinacate (Crox Alvarado), they hypnotize her and she returns to her past life as an Aztec girl named Xochi. We learn that she was a sacrificial virgin and was buried with a golden breastplate and bracelet by the high priests along with her lover warrior Popoca, because of their forbidden love. Popoca is cursed with the mission of guarding forever the tomb from robbers, as the invaluable artifacts hold the key to a great Aztec treasure.

Evil scientist Dr. Krupp (Luis Aceves Castaneda), known as “The Bat,” matches wits with Dr. Almada, Flor, and Pinacate as he attempts to secure the breastplate and bracelet from the burial tomb by creating a tin robot (with incandescent light bulb ears) to get the treasure. But the protector mummy returns to life (which, in any case, explains the title), and leads to clash between the forces of good and evil in the climactic big fight scene.

The lackluster story, told without any energy or conviction, lays an egg, as the filmmaker manages to do so little with the material except keep it messy, uninteresting, campy and dumb.


REVIEWED ON 11/29/2009 GRADE: C-