Living Head, The / Ojo de la Muerta (1963)
Cast: Mauricio Gaces, Anan Luisa Peluffo, Guillermo Cramer, German Robles
Director: Chano Urueta
Nutshell: Explorers pay a high price for “desecration” of an ancient Aztec tomb
Around the same period director Chano Urueto immortalized himself with the majestic Brainiac he tried his hand at the “ancient tomb desecration” genre inspired by “The Mummy” and its thousand spin-offs.
The film opens as three intruding “godless” scientists are upon the threshold of a great discovery – the lost ancient tomb of the Great Akatoo. Upon breaching the tomb, they scientists find that it comes with a prerequisite battered scroll warning of dire consequences in case of mishandling. The tomb also comes with an Aztec heavy who serves as a substitute for a bandaged Mummy and a masked “Living Head”. Once you remove the mask it reveals a rather ugly man’s head who proceeds to try his utmost to look as menacing as possible using only his facial expressions and eyes to terrify. Obviously, the head is the catalyst of revenge against the desecrators and it is the head that commands the lumbering, occasionally chanting but not at all frightening Aztec “Mummy” or Zombie to exact revenge. Another item of crucial relevance is an old ring that has the ability to glow when its bearer is summoned by the hugely psychic Living Head.
Anyway, the desecrating scientists return home and one of them, the professor with a curvy blonde for a daughter, stores the Living Head and the Mummy in their guest room while he stupidly presents his daughter with the deadly ring that glows. It’s not long before strange events start to occur and one by one the scientist’s lives are imperilled at the behest of the irritable and scowling Living Head and his accomplice the lumbering Aztec Mummy.
The climax builds when the head demands the bearer of the ring to commit murder and the bearer of the ring to commit murder and the bearer happens to be the glamorous Marta, daughter of professor Mueller – chief desecrator. Things get even more complicated when the professors helping hand is hypnotized by the ring and turned against the lovely Marta – the girl of his dreams. It’s all rather typically kitchen sink stuff from Urueta yet fairly engaging stuff without ever approaching the sheer genius of Brainiac which shares much of the same background music as this film – talk about kitchen sink production!
Sadly, the films villains are a bit of a let-down in that the Living Head is none too inspiring and the Mummy is just a big flabby fellow with some paint thrown on him. The blonde tries hard but the bad guys just aren’t menacing or nasty enough to quicken the pulse. It’s a noble effort but lacking that extra to make it one of the memorable vintage “bad movies” emanating from Mexico ‘s vault of horror goodies. Compared to some of the marvellous, atmospheric and decidedly weird stuff that came out of Mexico ‘s horror exploitation wave, this is not a particularly noteworthy effort even if it will do quite nicely on a dreary Saturday afternoon.