A disgruntled professor tells a newspaper editor about experiments in regression that have led to the discovery of Mayan treasure. Unfortunately, it’s guarded by a living Mummy.
Yes, here he comes again! Master no-budget schlockmeister, your friend and mine, Jerry Warren! This was actually the first of Jerry’s lucrative ‘cut and paste’ efforts. It was a radical and groundbreaking cinematic technique, where he bought the footage of a foreign language film and recut it for US audiences with new scenes. Here he’s resurrecting Mexican movie ‘La Mommia Azteca’ (1957), which was the first in the Aztec Mummy monster series.
Our story begins with the hypnotic regression of a woman, Ann Taylor (Rosita Arenas from the original movie) and her visions of a Mayan pyramid. Well, actually its Aztec really, but who’s gonna know? She sees strange rituals, sacrifices, and a fabulous treasure. Her medical team discuss the procedure as they carry it out, but only talk when the camera is on someone else. Otherwise, Jerry would have to try and match the mouth movements of the Spanish-speaking actors with English dialogue and that would have been a fair bit of trouble, no? Later on, scenes in the darkened pyramid are a godsend, of course, with no need to worry about pesky dubbing there. But we still have Voiceover Man providing some helpful exposition when the heathens remove the Holy Breastplate from the Aztec — sorry, Mayan — Mummy, and things go all tits up.
The boffin who’s already off the project is Dr Munson (George Mitchell). He dishes the dirt on these goings on while enjoying coffee out of an obviously empty cup, which he waves about just to make sure that we notice. This is some of Jerry’s newly shot material, which also include the Doc grousing to a couple of teenage girls in what I think is supposed to be some kind of coffee shop or club. There’s a table and some dancing teens in the background, anyway. One of these cuties is supposed to be the girlfriend of Timmy from the original movie, and, given that the new footage was shot 7 years after the original film then the ages of the two ‘sweethearts’ just about matches. But, of course, the story is all supposed to be taking place at the same time. Oops.
Having said that, Jerry does employ all the weapons in his considerable filmmaking arsenal here. Stylistically, he normally went for the single ‘locked off’ shot for minutes on end, but here there are actually edits within scenes. Yes, really, sometimes more than one! And, he expands his filmmaking palette further when the camera tracks in for a closeup! My god, Jerry, what were you thinking?! That’s half the budget gone right there! The success of ‘Terror of the Bloodhunters’ (1962) must have gone to his head.
Jerry sold the end product to television, but didn’t stop there, oh no. He took most of the Mexican footage, some of his wraparound material, and stapled them together with scenes from the Lon Chaney Jr Mexican wolf man comedy ‘La Casa del Terror’ (1960). He titled this tribute to the art of recycling ‘Face of the Screaming Werewolf’ (1964) and sold it to cinemas. His contribution? One new scene featuring a couple of cops that lasts about 30 seconds at the end.
Jerry, you were a legend!