¡Aztec Mummies & Martian Invaders!: La momia azteca contra el roboto humano

Saturday Aug 15, 2009 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM This is a past program

In the mid-'50s, on the trailing edge of the Mexican cinema's storied “Golden Age,” stark realities began to transform Mexico's motion picture industry. Economic downturns rapidly led to nationalization, the introduction of production and distribution quotas, slashed budgets, censorship and highly bureaucratic production practices. One of the most intriguing products to emerge from this restrictive atmosphere, “Mexploitation,” combined elements of several popular genres to efficiently churn out mass entertainment with pre-sold appeal. Monsters, mad scientists, space ships, robots and shapely space-women now shared the screen with the charros and campesinos of Mexico’s romantic past; the mummies and Spanish nobles of its colonial and pre-colonial legacies; and the modern, masked, “lucha libre” wrestlers who had fast become the leading heroes of working class entertainment. These sci-fi and fantasy culture jams proved enormously popular and remained a staple of Mexico’s commercial cinema until the mid-1970s. Hilarious and endearing for their rock-bottom production values, stilted acting and gimmicky devices, the films are also a treasure-trove of information about Mexico's ambivalence toward tradition, modernity, religion, ethnicity, sex roles and economic development—tensions which persist to this day.

Opening Night

La momia azteca contra el roboto humano
(The Aztec Mummy vs. The Human Robot) 
Mexico, 1957

PROD: Guillermo Calderón. DIR: Rafael Portillo. SCR: Guillermo Calderón, Alfredo Salazar. CINE: Enrique Wallace. EDIT: Jorge Bustos, José Li-ho, J.R. Remy. CAST: Ramón Gay, Rosa Arenas, Ángel di Stefani, Crox Alvarado, Luis Aceves Castañeda.

The sinister Dr. Krupp covets the ancient treasure guarded for centuries by the dread Aztec mummy Popoca. Dr. Almada, a modern Mexican scientist, tells his incredulous colleagues about Dr. Krupp’s earlier attempts to hypnotize Almada’s beautiful fiancée Flor into stealing the treasure. The final confrontation in a cemetery between the mummy and Krupp’s metallic robot (both of them more kooky than menacing) is a spectacle reminiscent of Ed Wood. Can Krupp’s tin monstrosity finally rob Mexico of its ancient patrimony, or will Popoca vanquish the evil invader?  (35mm, b/w, subtitles, 65 min)

Join us in the courtyard on opening night for a post-screening fiesta!

Funded by the UCLA Arts Initiative and co-presented with the UCLA Film & Televison Archive.

Public programs are made possible, in part, by a major gift from Ann and Jerry Moss. 

Additional support is provided by Bronya and Andrew Galef, Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley, an anonymous donor, and the Hammer Programs Committee.