Robot vs the Aztec Mummy (1958) Mexican poster

The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy (1958)

Rating:

(La Momia Azteca Contra el Robot Humano)

Mexico. 1958.

Crew

Director – Rafael Portillo, Screenplay – Alfredo Salazar, Story – William Calderon S [Guillermo Calderon] & Alfredo Salazar, Producer – William Calderon Stell [Guillermo Calderon], Photography (b&w) – Enrique Wallace, Music – Antonio Diaz Conde, Art Direction – J. Torres Torija. Production Company – Cinematografica Calderon S.A..

Crew: English Language Version

Director – Manuel San Fernando, Producer – K. Gordon Murray

Cast

Ramon Gay (Dr Eduardo Almada), Rosita Arenas (Flor Almada), Luis Aceves Castaneda (Dr Krupp), Crox Alvarado (Pincate), Angelo De Steffani (Popoca), Adolfo Rojas (The Robot)


Plot

Dr Eduardo Almada gathers two colleagues to him. He tells the story of how his wife Flor discovered via hypnotic regression that she was the reincarnation of the Aztec handmaiden Xochitl who was condemned to death after she engaged in a forbidden love affair with the warrior Popoca. To prove the truth of this, they went in search of her tomb – only to awaken the mummified Popoca who came after them. They also had to fight the villainous Dr Krupp who exerted hypnotic control over Flor to get her to lead the mummy to them. Dr Krupp has now stolen a supply of radium. In following him to his lair, they discover that he has built a robot to defeat the mummy in order to obtain its treasure.


This was the third film in the Mexican-made series of Aztec Mummy films. The series began with The Aztec Mummy (1957) in which a professor conducts an experiment in hypnotic regression on his fiancee (the Bridey Murphy fad – for which see the film The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) – had just been hugely popular) and she discovers a whole other past life as an Aztec handmaiden. They go in search of her tomb only to awaken the mummy of her love. This was very quickly followed by a sequel The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957), which managed to introduce a masked wrestler to the mix (something that had been excised from the recaps here). This was followed by Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy (1964) wherein producer Guillermo Calderon crossed the series over with the Wrestling Women who had first appeared in Doctor of Doom (1962) and went through a five film series of their own, including a bout with a robot in Wrestling Women vs the Murderous Robot (1969). The Aztec Mummy and the Robot were later revived for the low-budget US-made homage film Mil Mascaras vs the Aztec Mummy (2007).

The Robot in Robot vs the Aztec Mummy (1958)
The Robot

The Robot vs The Aztec Mummy has gained a reputation as a bad film and was duly ridiculed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-99). The reasons for it being a bad film are plentiful and obvious – I shall get to the on-screen technical ones in a moment. However, the major issue exists more in terms of it being a complete ripoff. The runtime of the film is 64 minutes, just over one hour, but 45 minutes of these – ie. nearly three-quarters of the film’s runtime – consist of footage recycled from the previous two films, meaning that the total amount of original film that we have here comes in as slightly short of twenty minutes (including time for the credits). It is not hard to imagine audiences of the day who enjoyed the preceding film feeling ever so slightly annoyed to be expecting a new film and instead watching what is essentially only an extended re-run of the other two films.

Despite rehashing two other films, The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy lacks much interest dramatically. The direction is static and dull. There is a failure to invest anything in terms of atmosphere in the scenes with the mummy creeping about and menacing people. The most ridiculous thing about the twenty minutes of original footage that we get is the robot. This is an absurdly clunky looking tin can where the actor inside awkwardly walks while swaying from side to side – oh and not to mention comes with a human head inside a plastic visor that also has a giant lightbulb on its forehead. It is just like something out of a 1930s serial such as The Phantom Empire (1935), The Mysterious Dr Satan (1940) or Captain Video (1951). At least, you hope, the showdown between the title creatures has something that looks forward to the various Godzilla vs ___ films of the coming decade. Alas, even then this is a fight that takes place inside a crypt and is over quickly – although at least has the amusement of seeing the Aztec Mummy crush and squish the robot like a used aluminium can.


Full film available here


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