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The Aztec Mummy vs. the Human Robot / La momia azteca contra el robot humano (Rafael Portillo, 1957, 65min)
Faux Aztec legend meets Ed Wood–esque special effects as a sinister character builds a low-rent robot in an attempt to steal an ancient treasure.
The Human Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy “not only has a place in Mexican cinema, but also in the culture of fantasy cinema” Quentin Tarantino, Morelia Film Festival, 2010
The future is here
SCI-FI CLASSICS FROM MEXICO
Presented thanks to the generous support of
Alfonso Rosas Priego, Cinematográfica Calderón, Filmoteca Unam, Fundación Televisa, and Steve Seid
All prints courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM
Text and descriptions by Steve Seid (Video Curator, Pacific
Film Archive, Berkeley Art Museum, USA)
The future was never easy for Mexico. It was something made elsewhere as Mexico gazed on its past, dwelling on pre-Cortesian glories gone. North of the border, the United States developed the technologies of modernity, even exporting theories and images of the future. What here was an indigenous genre, the science fiction film, was in Mexico an appropriated one in which its own popular artifacts and idiosyncratic myths were grafted to an imported trope.
A robot in mortal battle with an Aztec mummy; a masked wrestler repelling an invasion from Mars; Venusian babes in bathing suits falling for a charro from Chihuahua—often these films had bottom-of-the barrel budgets, meaning they had to skimp on the pie-plate props and the otherworldly attire as well. But beyond the rayguns, spandex space suits, and trashcan robots, mass conceptions about sex roles, technology, machismo, tradition, and xenophobia ooze from these films like an alien Blob. Enormously popular throughout the fifties and sixties, these wry and engaging sci-fi flicks say a little about Mexploitation and a lot about the popular imagination.
Part of the London MexFest
London MexFest is part of the Shoreditch Fringe Festival www.shoreditchfringe.org