An old horror staple is given a fresh spin in American Mummy, which puts the horror element firmly in the spotlight
A group of college students discover a major find in the New Mexico desert, the burial site of what appears to be an Aztec god. This site was found by a small team, one of whom died in the process due to a strange accident. But what started as a simple artifact find has now turned into a serious historic find, even attracting well known names in the field to examine the site. While some are overjoyed to have access to this historical find and be part of the discovery process, not everyone is content to be a passive part of the process.
Using an ancient book of rituals, one of the students plans to test the legends of the past and try to resurrect the mummified corpse. As it happens, the ritual calls for blood sacrifice and she provides copious amounts to the deceased god.
After she cowgirls the ancient body a little, she starts to get violently ill, puking green slime. Despite the efforts of the rest of the team, she winds up dead and wrapped in plastic sheeting. But as it turns out, her ritual worked and her corpse is reanimated, thanks to the mystical Aztec STD given to her from the corpse of the ancient god. Now the spirit of Tezcatlipoca, god of war and strife is on the loose and no one is safe from his unholy wrath!
American Mummy is a nice change of pace from mummy movies that seem to think popcorn action and CGI overload are more important than making the central monster a lethal stalker.
This movie was made in 2014, shown at various festivals under the title of Aztec Blood, then shelved. But Universal’s revival of The Mummy inspired Wild Eye to acquire this mystical tale, dust it off, and finally give it a proper home video release. American Mummy was also shot in digital 3-D. And, while some shots are clearly designed with that in mind, it doesn’t lose much in the transition to 2-D. But if you have the set up and desire to do, the Blu-ray from Wild Eye includes both versions to choose from.
I thought this looked fun from the trailers, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m kind of baffled as to why it took this long to find a home video release. It might not be a horror classic, but it takes the mummy legend back into the horror realm and gives us a unique, interesting take on the mythos.
Moving the mummy out of Egypt into New Mexico opens up the concept, with new mythology and a welcome change of scenery. Although I suppose tents in the desert are tents in the desert, right? As I mentioned, this movie is all about horror, bringing the spirit of an Aztec god to life through viral possessions. The possession angle isn’t all that new, but using sex to spread the mystical plague was quite cool. If you want to push your evil spirit around the world, infecting hosts through sex is a safe bet for success.
However, it doesn’t add a ton of sleaze, which can be good or bad — depending on your preferences. I’m all for gratutious nudity, so I was hoping things would just spiral into depraved madness. But the movie does come through in terms of bloodshed, which you gore hounds will surely appreciate. A lot of fun, old school style practical effects are used here, including a very cool pickaxe to the head and a guy who tears himself in half. So we have paranoia, blood soaked violence, and an ancient STD…sounds like fun to me.
The film’s dialogue and cast are bound to be somewhat divisive, depending on how you feel about b-movie style elements.
I can see those who prefer mainstream cinema not being into the performances, since they’re on the melodramatic side at times. But I think it adds to the fun, as the cast seems to embrace the tone of the movie. You don’t need high dramatic turns in a film about an ancient STD from the Aztecs, at least in my opinion.
Most of the performances are middle of the road, but I have to point out the outlandish Russian researcher, who is almost like a bizarro world Hammond from Jurassic Park. He is so sloppy and ill prepared, with a laughable accent and really stereotypical Russian word jumbles, it is hilarious stuff.
I found the writing to be acceptable, from the great premise to the sometimes not so great dialogue interactions. But again, as a fan of b movies, I loved the odd little moments and character quirks. But if you’re a cinema snob or prefer mainstream movies, you might not have that same appreciation.
In the end, I had fun with American Mummy, and it was a nice change of pace, especially given the total disaster of Universal’s 2017 reboot of The Mummy. The premise pumps some new blood into the legend while staying within the familiar framework, as well as taking it back into the horror world. To me, that is what stands out the most, how great it is to see the concept back in the horror realm, without all the CGI mess and action stars. It does have some of the typical indie woes, which is understandable given the resources involved, but I think it rises above those restrictions.
If you’re a fan of mummy movies and want a return to a focus on horror, American Mummy provides that ride.