From Strange and Distant Shores: The Aztec Mummy Trilogy (Part 2)

momia aztecaby Orrin Grey

The Aztec Mummy Trilogy Director: Rafael Portillo Cast: Ramon Gay, Rosa Arenas, Crox Alvarado, Luis Aceves Castaneda. Country: Mexico

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy opens almost literally right where its predecessor left off, with The Bat in jail after his foiled plot, undergoing interrogation and looking as self-satisfied as a cat with cream. This is as good a place as any to mention that Luis Aceves Castaneda is probably the high point of the trilogy for me in his role as The Bat/Dr. Krupp. He seems like he’s trying to be the Mexican Orson Welles, and he strokes his goatee with exactly the right amount of serial villain melodrama.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take The Curse of the Aztec Mummy ten minutes to get sillier than the first movie ever got, and a crime-fighting luchadore called The Angel shows up at the police station in a convertible almost immediately, looking for The Bat, who hasn’t even broken out of jail yet. The Angel is a good parallel to The Bat’s over-the-top villainy with his just-as-over-the-top heroism, handing out lines like “Their dead partners are crying out for justice” and giving the protagonists a “radio watch” so they can communicate with him.

The Bat escapes from a prison transport in a scene featuring the recycled footage of the out-of-context gunfight from the first reel of The Aztec Mummy; a scene that also treats us to The Angel beating up a bunch of thugs and then narrowly escaping death by accidentally rolling out from under a car tire that was about to crush his head.

The protagonists from the first film re-enter the second because The Bat is still hot to use Flor to find the lost Aztec treasure, a plan which gets explained to us with about ten more minutes of footage from the first movie. Then The Bat sends a bunch of unarmed thugs to kidnap Flor and brutally beat Dr. Almada and Pinacate.

What follows is a sequence of people getting to the villain’s lair, getting into fist fights and getting captured. There’s a lot of getting captured in these movies, which have something of the feel of old serial films, not just in their megalomaniacal villains and steadfast heroes but also in their repeated cliffhangers and abundance of people tied to chairs. Eventually, both Dr. Almada and The Angel end up captured, and we learn that The Angel has been Pinacate all along. The Bat needs Dr. Almada alive to translate some hieroglyphics, but he tells his men to take The Angel “to the death chamber.”

The “death chamber” turns out to be a room with a sliding floor that opens onto a pit containing about twelve snakes and a couple of rubber spiders. Somehow, The Angel manages to escape this diabolical trap.

Of course, the mummy arrives at the last minute again to reclaim his stolen treasure and put things to rights, defeating The Bat and throwing him into his own “death chamber.” Once again, the mummy’s scenes are inexplicably dark, while the scenes around them are perfectly well-lit.

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