Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957)

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (La Maldición de la momia azteca), the second in the Aztec Mummy series, is one of those seques that really requites you to have seen the first movie if you’re going understand what’s going on. Which is a pity in some ways, because it’s a different type of movie to The Aztec Mummy. The first movie had its cheesy moments but it had some real atmosphere and some nice ideas. The Curse of the Aztec Mummy is just silly fun, although it’s still highly entertaining silly fun. Adding a mysterious masked crime-fighter known as The Angel (in a cape and spandex tights no less) inevitably increases the camp quotient considerably!

The diabolical criminal mastermind who meddles so diastrously in Dr Almada’s past life regression experiments in the first film has escaped from custody, and he’s still determined to get hold of the fabulous Aztec treasure. His plan to discover the exact location of the treasure involves kidnapping both Dr Almada and his fiancee Flor and forcing them to repeat their earlier experiment - to send her back to her previous life when she was to be offered as a sacrifice to the Aztec gods.

It plays out very much in the style of an old Hollywood movie serial, with the good guys being captured by the bad guys, then escaping, then being recaptured, then re-escaping, and so on. The diabolical criminal mastermind behaves the way any good movie diabolical criminal mastermind should - when he has the hero at his mercy he doesn’t simply kill him, but instead devises a complicated and ingenious method of execution which of course fails, as such methods always fail in the world of the movies.

The acting is pretty basic, although Rosa Arenas is quite good as Flor. It lacks the wonderful gothic mood of the best Mexican horror movies, it lacks the genuine frisson of terror that the human sacrifice sub-plot in the first movie provided, and Rafael Portillo’s direction isn’t overly imaginative. It does however offer non-stop if somewhat bewildering action and plenty of unlikely plot twists and narrow escapes from certain death.

It can be found in BCI’s three-movie Aztec Mummy boxed set, nicely restored and including both the original Spanish soundtrack with sub-titles and an English dubbed version. It’s all good campy fun, and the boxed set is well worth picking up.

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