The Aztec Mummy

La Momia Azteca

Mexican original release poster
La Momia Azteca
Directed by Rafel Lopez Portillo
Produced by Guillermo Calderon
Written by Alfredo Salazar
Guillermo Calderon
Starring Ramón Gay
Rosa Arenas
Crox Alvarado
Luis Aceves Castañeda
Jorge Mondragón
Arturo Martínez
Ángel Di Stefani
Jesús Murcielago Velázquez
Music by Antonio Díaz Conde
Cinematography Enrique Wallace
Edited by Jorge Bustos
Cinematográfica Calderón S.A.
Distributed by Azteca Films Inc.
Release dates
  • November 13, 1957 (1957-11-13)
Running time
80 minutes
Country Mexico
Language Spanish

La Momia Azteca (lit. trans. "The Aztec Mummy") is a 1957 Mexican black-and-white horror film produced by Guillermo Calderon from his story idea, scripted by Alfredo Salazar and directed by Rafael Lopez Portillo. It is the first in a series of four other films starring the title character and is clearly inspired by the mummy films of Universal Pictures.


In ancient times, Aztec warrior Popoca is buried alive after being caught having an affair with maiden Xochitl who is killed outright. Popoca is cursed with immortality in order to forever guard the Great Pyramid of Yucatán where his lover and the treasures of the Aztec are kept. In the present day, Dr. Eduardo Almada decides to experiment with hypnotic regression on his fiancée Flor Sepúlveda. Through hypnosis, Eduaro discovers that Flor is in fact a reincarnation of Xochitl, using her past memories to find Xochitl's remains. Taking the remains along with Xochitl's golden breastplate (which contains a map to the location of the treasure), they attempt to leave the cave. However, before they are able to leave they are intercepted by the now reanimated Popoca. Managing to elude the immortal warrior, the group flees to Mexico City with Popoca in pursuit. Meanwhile, Dr. Krupp (Almada's colleague who is also the villainous thief known as The Bat) discovers the existence of the treasure and sends his thugs after Almada in order to retrieve the breastplate. Krupp's men converge on Flor's house in order to retrieve the breastplate. Little do they know that Popoca is not far behind...




At this point in Mexican Cinema, there was a wide range of films being released that were similar in plots to earlier horror films made by Universal Pictures, but differed enough to avoid any copyright lawsuits.[1] Variations on Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and other monsters, were especially popular. So it is not surprising that Guillermo Calderon and Alfredo Salazar wrote a story and screenplay similar to that of Univesal's horror films The Mummy, and The Mummy's Hand and its sequels.[1][2][3]

Filming and Release

La Momia Azteca was filmed in Mexico City, Mexico in Estudios CLASA studio, along with its first two sequels back-to-back. [4] The film was released in Mexico on November 13, 1957 by Peliculas Nacionales[5] and was profitable in both Mexico and in the United States, as were its sequels.[1]


"La Momia Azteca" was released in the United States in 1957 by Azteca Films Inc., undubbed and unsubtitled, for exhibition in the many communities of Spanish-speaking Americans, large and small. No English language version was developed, however, until 1964 when Jerry Warren arranged with Azteca Films to purchase rights to a half-dozen of its release titles for general American release.[6] However, Warren drastically cut the original film and added new footage of his own making, significantly altering the story line (e.g., Dr. Almada becomes the first casualty of the mummy when it grabs his foot as he is fleeing its tomb: a jump-cut is made and all further scenes showing Almada are eliminated, and voice-over narration makes it clear he has thus been killed). This rendering was sold directly to American TV-movie syndicator, Medallion Pictures Inc., as "Attack of the Mayan Mummy". Then Warren took some of the footage from this TV-movie, including the footage of his own making, restored scenes of Dr. Alamada and others previously edited from the rest of the film, made some other cuts, added some more original footage, and combined all of this with principal footage culled from the unrelated Mexican horror-comedy, "La Casa del Terror", starring Lon Chaney Jr. and Tin-Tan, to create another new story in 'Face of the Screaming Werewolf", which is how it was made available to U.S. theaters.

No straightforward English-dubbing of this first film in the series was ever made, though English-subtitled prints were briefly available on videotape and DVD. The first two sequels, "La Maldicion de la Momia" and "La Momia Azteca contra El Robot Humano" were, however, taken as made and dubbed by K. Gordon Murray, both of them for direct-to-TV syndication in the company of numerous other Mexican horror titles, and also with a theatrical showing of the latter in 1964.

The entire film series including the film was last released on DVD by Bci / Eclipse on December 26, 2006.

Public Reception

Contemporary critical reception of the film, at home or abroad, has not been found.

It currently has a score of 2.2 / 10 on IMDb, [7] although this may be due to ballot-stuffing by "worst film ever made" fandom, which almost exclusively focusses on horror and sci-fi films and, being American, would most likely be rating Jerry Warren's revision.

Horror awarded the film a grade C commenting "Although the mummy is given relatively little screen time, his initial, on-screen revelation is suspenseful and expertly handled, at least by the standards of Mexican horror films. The movie builds to a reasonably satisfying climax, though its hour-and-twenty-minute running time often drags. The only element to the film which does not make sense when taken by itself is the introduction of Dr. Krupp. When viewed out of context with its sequels, Krupp's presence in The Aztec Mummy [sic] seems largely gratuitous, as he doesn't really have much importance to the plot. It is only when the plots of the two sequels are taken into account that Krupp's role in the original begins to make sense".[8]

Welltun Cares gave the film a score of 2 / 4 commenting "This is a mummy movie without the trappings of Egypt, and as such has some interest to the Horror fan. It’s doesn’t quite merit “gotta see” status, though, what with relentless padding and extremely superfluous subplot".[9]

TV Guide awarded the film no stars out of 4 calling the film "Completely bizarre and cheaply made," but further stated that the film was engaging and worth taking a look.[10]

Regardless the film and its sequels have gained a following over the years and is now considered a cult classic.[4]



  1. 1 2 3 Wheeler Winston Dixon (24 August 2010). A History of Horror. Rutgers University Press. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-0-8135-5039-8.
  2. Rovin, Jeff (1989). The Encyclopiedia of Monsters. New York, New York: Facts on File Inc. p. 15.
  3. Tom Weaver,; Michael Brunas; John Brunas (1 April 1990). Universal Horrors: The Studio's Classic Films, 1931-1946, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 462–. ISBN 978-0-7864-9150-6.
  4. 1 2 "Momia azteca (1957)". DB Cult Film DB Cult Film Institute. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  5. "La momia azteca (1957) - Release Info - IMDb". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  6. Dennis Fischer (17 June 2011). Science Fiction Film Directors, 1895-1998. McFarland. pp. 648–. ISBN 978-0-7864-8505-5.
  7. "La momia azteca (1957) - IMDb". Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  8. "DVD Reviews A-M - Horror Digital". Horror Jeremy. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  9. Waters, Cullen. "La Momia Azteca/Attack of the Aztec Mummy (1957)". Welltun Cares Cullen M. M. Waters. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  10. "The Aztec Mummy Review". TV Guide. TV Guide. Retrieved 7 January 2015.

External links

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