Countdown to Halloween: "R" is for The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (1958)
A large part of The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (1958), I’m guessing about two-thirds of it, is told in flashback, which makes sense because only about one-third is original material. The flashback sequences are actually recaps of two previous movies: The Aztec Mummy (1957) and The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1958). It’s an expeditious way to watch a trilogy in only 65 minutes.
Although I haven’t seen them, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. The mummy’s “origin story” is similar to most mummy origin stories: a man (here, he’s named Popoca) is buried alive due to some kind of romantic scandal and his beloved woman is killed. In present day, curious archaeologists desecrate the tomb, an act which eventually facilitates the resurrection of an angry mummy.
One of the archaeologists, Flor (Rosita Arenas), is the reincarnation of Xochitl, Popoca’s woman. In this particular case, it was Flor’s husband, Dr. Eduardo Almada (Ramon Gay), who hypnotized his wife while experimenting with hypnotic regression. He uses her memories of the past to locate Popoca’s tomb in the present. Here, the mummy’s goal is not to regain his long lost love…
…but it’s to regain two relics that comfort him during his long periods of slumber: a gold breastplate and bracelet. These artifacts become the points around which the plots of these movies revolve. A colleague of Dr. Almada, Dr. Krupp (Luis Aceves Castaneda), moonlights as a criminal called “The Bat,” and he attempts to steal the breastplate and bracelet in each of the three movies.
It’s been five years since Dr. Krupp was thrown into a snake pit at the end of The Curse of the Aztec Mummy, and in The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, he’s stolen a corpse, some radium, and a human brain to perform what Dr. Almada calls “some diabolical experiment.” We soon learn that although Krupp has learned the secret of life, he doesn’t want to create it in a body that will simply rot.
His masterpiece will be a “human robot” and, instead of exclaiming, “It’s alive… It’s alive” when it comes to life, he exclaims, “It’s a success… It’s a success!” He then explains that it’s loaded with enough radium to disintegrate anything… even a mummy. This will allow Krupp to nab the relics, decipher the hieroglyphics on them to locate Xochitl’s tomb, then have enough money to build an army of human robots.
The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy reminds me of two things: an adventure-filled chapter serial and a Mexican luchador movie. Although there are no masked wrestlers, there are masked heroes and villains. We catch a glimpse of The Bat in costume during one of the flashbacks, and we learn that Almada’s assistant, Pincate (Crox Alvarado) was once the hero called “The Angel.”
I’d like to see The Angel in action. While he doesn’t do much in this movie, and I don’t think he even says a word, Alvarado is fun to watch as Pincate. The actor has a charismatic screen presence and the character seems genuinely interested in all the nonsense that’s happening. I was interested, too. It’s cheap and not particularly well made, but it is fun. And, come on… mummies fighting robots!
Written by Alfredo Salazar (adaptation)
Original Story by Guillermo Calderon, Alfredo Salazar
Directed by Rafael Portillo
Starring Ramon Gay, Rosita Arenas, Crox Alvarado, Luis Aceves Castaneda RT 65 min.
Home Video Prime Video (streaming)
Part of the Countdown to Halloween. Click here for a list of all the blogs participating. Each offers its own distinctive month long celebration of the chilling holiday we all love.