“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Review of “The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy” (1958)

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Also known as The Aztec Mummy Against the Humanoid Robot. With either title, you know exactly what you are going to get: a mountainous pile of schlock stacked so high it is capable of blacking out the sun. There should come a time during every production when the director needs to ask, “Why?” I asked myself that same question numerous times during a viewing of The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (or we can call it by the original Mexican name to give it an air of mystery and intrigue: La Momia Azteca Contra El Robot Humano). Judging by all of that, you probably assumed correctly that there is indeed an Aztec mummy wreaking havoc in some way and then an ultimate final showdown with a robot. While they are included in the form of a paper mache-coated limping mummy and a robot made out of some pretty rad cardboard, both title characters are on-screen for what seems like less than five minutes. The rest of the film, though, drags on for an eternity. What on earth was TCM thinking in showing this movie last week? Did a studio exec lose a bet?

This has to be one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life. It is insufferable from beginning to end, and yes, I watched it until the bitter end because I really could not believe what was happening. I don’t understand how something like this was allowed to be made, budget or no budget. What kind of desperation was the studio going through that it had to complete this disaster? Whoever wrote the script must have been high. Scratch that, I hope they were high when they sat down to write it. Maybe a bad batch of acid? First of all, the film was originally shot in Spanish and then overdubbed. This is fine. Many productions of the era underwent the same process. But during this dubbing, the use of English is so literal and serious that is sounds as if the characters are reading from a book. There is no life or form to it. No one really talks like they do in this movie. The audio is terribly unbalanced, with background noises barely audible and the dialogue so loud you have to lower your television volume. The actors talk at each other, not too each other. Not like it really matters.

Putting aside the fact that the Aztecs never actually mummified their dead or dressed like Egyptians, the preposterous storyline which is told via a combination of flashbacks with narration and fragments of present-day nonsense makes you want to grab the nearest sharp object. I know this goes without saying, but the story makes absolutely no sense. There is an Aztec mummy whose grave has been robbed or disturbed. Said mummy has behemoth strength capable of killing us mere mortals and roams the earth with bloodthirsty vengeance on his mind. There is a team of scientists involved trying to save the day, and of course, an evil doctor who was presumed dead is trying to invent a humanoid robot running on nuclear fusion which can destroy the mummy (and presumably anything else it wants to). Get all that? The final showdown which is billed in the title lasts about thirty seconds and is so mind-numbingly awful that you won’t be able to describe what you just witnessed. It’s a joke. It has to be a joke, right? A very bad prank carried out by a couple of bored filmmakers. No friends, its real, and actually takes itself seriously.

Aside from that, the sets are okay, but the special effects and make-up border on something you would see if a group of high school kids got together to film a project with a camcorder for drama class. The picture is murky and muddled, and the mummy is laugh-out-loud horrible. It looks like the guy is wearing a paper mache mask and a latex suit designed to look like a shroud. The robot is made of cardboard and recycled car headlights.  The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy has somehow become a public domain cult classic over the years. A movie reproduced endlessly in those early VHS tape years. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Were people suicidal back then? Was there nothing else around to waste time with? It was bad back then, and it is even worse now. I have also found that this is actually a sequel, which I did not know prior to viewing. There may even be a third one out there. Well, there you go. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Starring Ramon Gay, Rosa Arenas, and Croz Alvarado. Directed by Rafael Portillo.

1 out of 10 stars.

More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here.

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