Retro Review: The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy
During the 50’s and 60’s Mexico’s film industry became responsible for some of the strangest, craziest, and downright most fun horror films in the world. Movies like; El Vampiro, the Witch’s Mirror, and the Braniac, all hold a special place in the hearts of B-movie fans. But there is one in particular which has garnered a lot of attention over the years due to just how far it takes the audience into the realm of the hilariously bizarre. Released in 1958, as part of a trilogy of films, in director Rafael Portillo’s Aztec Mummy series, the Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy has achieved infamy for how unabashedly entertaining it is with it’s unique brand of lunacy.
In his research on reincarnations and past lives with his subject Flor; Dr. Eduardo Almada discovers the location of a hidden Aztec treasure. Before he can claim the bracelet and breastplate which hold the key to said treasure he must deal with the mummy Popoca. Once a mighty Aztec warrior, Popoca is now cursed as a member of the undead guarding his society’s secrets for all eternity. Scheming to get his hands on the treasure in his continued plot to achieve immortality, Almada’s rival Dr. Krupp AKA the Bat has his own plans for the mummy. Utilizing the strongest metals possible, the Bat and his disfigured assistant construct a robot capable of going toe-to-toe with Popoca. Believing the police would be outmatched, Dr. Almada assembles a team of the toughest guys he can find…..middle-aged scientists to confront the mad doctor (they are instantly captured). With his enemies out of the way, the Bat leads his robot into the cemetery to do battler with the mummy. Luckily Dr. Alamada and one of his associates are able to free themselves (the others who were with them are never mentioned again) and rush to stop the Bat’s scheme.
One thing is obvious while watching the first few minutes of this flick, and that is director Rafael Portillo has a great affinity for flashbacks. In fact the first 45 minutes of the flick consist of Dr. Almada recounting everything about what has happened up to that point as his colleagues sit around and occasionally ask questions. Considering much of the footage utilized for the Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy came from the other films in the trilogy, perhaps putting so much stock into this plot device is not an entirely terrible idea. Given that Portillo has to somehow makes a flick that combines; horror, science fiction and pulp crime genres, the man already had enough on his plate without worrying about filming new material. Viewers will no doubt see elements of countless other genre films copied in this movie, but they are all so charmingly poorly done that it just adds to the overall fun weirdness of it all.
Given the whole movie is built towards a showdown between machine and monster, the actual fight between the Bat’s robot and Popoca is incredibly one-sided. The mummy handily opens a can of Whoop Ass on his mechanical opponent. That being said you will not be disapointed as the sight of two men in cumbersome costumes trying, and ultimately failing, to have it out is nothing short of hilarious. If it is action you are looking for in these films you may best search out Curse of the Aztec Mummy, the second film in the series as it features a luchadore superhero known as the Angel.
Thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000 the Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy was eventually found by a brand new audience. Since then it has developed a solid reputation as a cult classic. To call this movie completely bonkers would be a bit of an understatement, but it is the furthest thing from boring.