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Lost in translation

14 February 2012

If you have an hour to kill (er… an hour, three minutes and thirty-five seconds to kill), I suppose there are worse things to do than ponder what happens when you try to repackage low-brow Mexican entertainment for low-brow gringo consumption.

La Maldicion de la Momia Azteca
has a few culturally redeeming moments (a very few)… some nice location shots of Mexico City and environs in the mid 1950s (if I’m not sorely mistaken, the location shots of Dr. Almada’s house is the present home of ex-President Miguel de la Madrid in Coyoacán), a masked hero of the pre-Santo era (more Zorro… or perhaps Scarlet Pimpernel than El Santo) and at least a nod to Mexican history.

All of which gets terribly mangled in the reworking for the U.S. market.  The stylized acting that might work in a low budget, Mexican film (which this was), when coupled with bad dialog and the attempts to “Americanize” the characters (“Bobby” and “Jennie”?) turns what would be just a classic bit of Mexican kitsch into something so mind-bogglingly grotesque as to call into question how bad an auteur the contemporaneous Ed Wood really was.

By the way, this film does have a socially redeeming value… Francisco Franco himself personally saw that it was banned in Spain.  That whole long dead guy stalking his reincarnated girl-friend made La Maldicion de la Momia Azteca a victim of  el Cadillo’s attempts to dress up the frumpy old Spanish Inquisition in the oh-so-modern Fascist clothing. It seems that the whole dead guy stalking dead girlfriend’s reincarnated persona just wasn’t something strictly adhering to Catholic dogma, and … as far as Franco was concerned… made it very unSpanish, therefore unpatriotic… and just went to show how backwards the Mexicans were, and how fortunate Spain was to have gotten themselves tossed out of the country.

Franco is still dead (but then, in the movie, so is Popotla), but who knows… maybe watching “The Curse of the Aztec Mummy” still pisses him off.


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