Saturday, May 15, 2010

In short: La Maldicion De La Momia Azteca (1957)

Now that mildly evil mad scientist Dr. Krupp aka The Bat (Luis Aceves Castaneda) has been caught by the police, and the Aztec Mummy (Angel Di Stefani) is merrily sleeping with his beloved magic doodads again, the life of the family of Doctor Almada (Ramon Gay) should go back to normal again.

Alas, some of Dr. Krupp's henchmen are still at large and are freeing their master from the hands of the police faster than most people would think possible. Not even the intervention of the masked wrestler El Angel (not to be confused with El Santo, whose movie adventures would only start in 1961, and who was still "only" an exceedingly popular luchador at the time) can prevent the evil mastermind's escape. The rest of the film will make clear that El Angel's intervention won't prevent anything at all - he's basically a masked punching bag.

The freshly freed Dr. Krupp has a plan. He still wants the Aztec treasure to finance his dastardly experiments, but he knows that only the mummy's magical doodads can take him there and that only Alamada's fiancé Flor (Rosa Arenas) can lead him to them - notwithstanding the fact that it were Almada and his cowardly assistant Pinacate (Crox Alvarado) who returned the objects to their place of origin. We don't call the guy a mastermind because he's clever.

Be that as it may, Krupp decides that it is best to kidnap Flor, hypnotize her, get the girl to tell him where the doodads are hidden, fetch the doodads, then kidnap Alamada, get Alamada to translate the writing on the doodads that leads to the treasure, fetch the treasure, and not get killed by a rampaging mummy.

I don't see how anything could go wrong for him.

Rafael Portillo's La Malidicion De La Momia Azteca drops any pretensions the first Aztec Mummy film, La Momia Azteka, had of being a horror film and concentrates on the pulpy serial elements of its plot, completely sidelining the titular mummy until the final fifteen minutes, but adding an early (although not, as some people seem to believe, the first) appearance of that mainstay of Mexican pop cinema, the masked, heroic luchador. It's just too bad that El Angel is so utterly useless, only winning one of his various fights - characteristically the one where he has the assistance of a teenage boy and attacks his enemy from behind - and doing nothing actually heroic whatsoever. At least, the demasking scene explains the "hero"'s crapness, and thereby gives the whole masked man episode a weird streak of realism in a film that is about as divorced from reality as my dreams of becoming the Emperor of America. It is probably best to see El Angel as another baby step on the way to the true lucha hero, that is, a masked guy who is not overshadowed by a middle-aged archaeologist.

Still, El Angel's uselessness aside, La Maldicion is quite a fun film if you are inclined to like straightforwardly directed films with overacting bad guys with silly plans and randomly placed snake pits, enthusiastic (non-choreographed in a serial style) brawls, wild and woolly plots, snazzily dressed gangsters and, um, well, that's about all there is to see here, really. But it's fast and fun enough to provide an entertaining time.

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