Monday, April 11, 2011

The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy

This movie may be one of a kind. The authenticity of the facts here have been sworn to before a notary public. It isn't often a producer is willing to go out on a limb like this for a movie. Not that you'd be able to prove any facts to the contrary, the film being about as incomprehensible as they come.

I'll explain it as best I can. A disgraced psychiatrist, Dr. Eduardo Almadan (Ramón Gay), attempts to prove his past-life regression theories by hypnotizing his wife. He discovers she was once an Aztec princess named Xochi. Bad thing for Xochi she was having a secret affair with Popoca, a lowly warrior. The two are discovered and punished dearly: Popoca is buried alive while Xochi has her heart cut out upon the sacred altar.

After she's slaughtered, Xochi is adorned with a sacred breastplate and bracelet. But this is no ordinary jewelry, it contains code that tells where the Aztecs buried their treasure. And Popoca has been cursed to guard it for all eternity.

I don't know what it is about horror movies where some evil shithead is cursed with immortality. It's a stupid idea, all things considered. It only makes the monster harder to kill, which I guess is good if one wants a sequel. Not so good for for our heroes who have to battle an unstoppable beast.

Intent on proving his theories correct Dr. Almadan treks off to Mexico to find the altar and retrieve the breastplate. He figures it'll be a cinch since his wife has the inside scoop on its location thanks to his past-life regression therapy. And actually, it is a cinch, all things considered, except stealing the breastplate awakens Popoca (Ángel Di Stefani), who’s looking rather bedraggled now.

Are you following all this? Because it starts to get a little complicated now. See, all these goings are being spied upon by Dr. Krupp, AKA The Bat, an evil genius of sorts. He wants the Aztec treasure for himself, and figures if he can steal the breastplate it'll be all his. Back in Los Angeles, Krupp (Luis Aceves Castañeda) and his henchmen kidnap the Almadan family and force the good doctor to translate the breastplate.

But before The Bat succeeds in his dastardly plot, Popoca shows up and makes hay of the gang. He then scurries off into the darkness once more, taking the sacred relic with him.

This is all told in flashback, with Almadan narrating the events as we see them. Well, sort of. A lot of time, what he describes isn't exactly what happens on screen. It makes me wonder if the American distributor paid any attention to the original script, or if they just threw together a whole new movie based around the existing footage. Certainly the Spanish language version can't be this hard to follow. Can it? Anyway, we learn this all took place five years ago.

All that time, no one has heard a peep from Popoca, and The Bat has been on the lam. Or so everyone thought. It turns out The Bat has been developing an indestructible robot who will be able to wrest away the mummy's treasure. And well... yeah, this does eventually lead to a battle between Popoca and the robot, justifying the title of the film.

In the meantime, there are more kidnappings, detective work, trips to the cemetery, hypnosis, and another half dozen plot points crammed into this movie. Like a piñata on your nephew's sixth birthday, this one is jam packed with stale Mexican treats. And like that piñata you'd like to beat the crap out of this movie if you could.

Directed by Rafael Portillo and Manuel San Fernando • Unrated • 1958 • 65 minutes

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