‘The curse is unearthed’
American Mummy – aka Aztec Blood – is a 2014 supernatural American horror feature film directed by Charles Pinion (We Await; Red Spirit Lake; Twisted Issues) from a screenplay co-written with producer Greg Salman. It stars Suziey Block, Aidan Bristow, Aaron Burt.
At an archaeological dig in the New Mexico desert, a group of university students unearth a mummy wearing a fearsome mask made out of a human skull.
Carmen (Esther Canata), a graduate student steeped in apocalyptic scholarship, performs a secret, bloody rite above the ancient corpse, awakening the spirit of Tezcalipoca, Lord of the Smoking Mirror.
The camp and its occupants are soon filled with the blood-hungry spirit of Tezcalipoca, intent on spreading his evil to the world…
Wild Eye Releasing unleashed American Mummy on 3D + 2D Blu-ray and DVD on May 9, 2017.
Interview with director Charles Pinion:
It seems to be mummy season, Charles! Did you make this film knowing we were approaching a resurgence of the classic monster?
I had no idea! This movie started as American Mummy over a decade ago, when all we had was the title and a dream!
How and when did it all begin?
Greg Salman approached me with the title American Mummy in 2004. Once we settled on the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the Smoking Mirror, the story coalesced around that dark and bloody deity.
We were ready to shoot American Mummy in 2006. The movie was cast, and we planned to live and shoot in the tents where the movie was set. It would be a bloody, messy, run-and-gun masterpiece. Then the money fell through.
In 2010, in the wake of Avatar, there was a renewed interest in 3D movies. Thus American Mummy was reborn as a 3D movie.
American Mummy had its world premiere at Revelation Film Festival in Perth, Australia in 2014. The following month it played at Macabro Film Festival in Mexico City.
And was the mummy, or even the story set around it, inspired by any other films in that long-running series of mummy movies?
No. We assumed we were striking new ground in the realm of mummy films, since ours was an American mummy, not an Egyptian one.
I’ve since discovered the 1957 Mexican film La Momia Azteca, which inspired many sequels with great titles like The Aztec Mummy against the Humanoid Robot. And the 1961 3D film The Mask uses a mask of our mummy, Tezcatlipoca, as the transmitter of psychedelic visions. So the mummy world is even larger than I thought!
Any homages in your film to the others?
No. There are definitely homages to Evil Dead, though! [smiles]
How do you think American Mummy differs from the new Tom Cruise movie?
I think a shorter answer would be to “How does it resemble the new Tom Cruise movie?” Um, there’s a mummy? To be honest, I’ve only seen the trailer to the new Tom Cruise movie but would be surprised if there were any similarities.
Was it easy to title the movie American Mummy without Universal coming after the studio?
Sure. In 2004 we were just happy to have been the first to grab the title American Mummy. I think American Zombie came out that year, and I thought “Wow, no-one’s taken American Mummy yet?”
Regarding anyone coming after us, if we called the movie “I’m Lovin’ It” then McDonald’s would go after us. I don’t know how anyone can lay claim to a word like “mummy”.
For the eventual DVD release, any idea what we can expect in terms of extras?
It’s out now! The more collectible version is at Walmart, with a colour cardboard cover, and a 2-disc package of a 3D/2D Blu-Ray and 2D DVD.
The extras are trailers for the movie (including a real long and gory one), a video about the 3D rig we used, and a couple of behind-the-scenes things, one a funny bloopers moment where two actors try to get through a scene without cracking up.
Making movies is fun, as well as hard work, so sometimes the steam gets through the cracks and it’s time to laugh.
How much notice do you take of reviews?
I probably take too much notice of reviews. I appreciate the ones that judge the movie on its own merits (or lack) than on expectations of what they thought the movie was going to be. I love being surprised by movies.
Every work is a child to me, and I love all my kids, even the flawed ones.
Finally, your favorite mummy movie of all time?
I have to go with the first one. Karloff’s slow, shambling walk with arm outstretched still gives me the creeps.
“It’s got decent amounts of nudity, fantastic and realistic looking props, and tons of blood splattering gore. It’s all ever so slightly on the edge of B-movie quality, but I think that adds to the allure of it all. This could have been a lot better, but I felt the right sacrifices were made to secure the location, the props, and the special effects – which keep this movie from being a total bomb. Also, the acting wasn’t terrible, either!” Horror Society
“If you’re looking for a simple story, bare bones of CGI, this is it. There are a lot of old school gore elements, which should make horror nerds quite happy. American Mummy definitely delivers on its “devil within” premise.” Adeline Rivera, Sinful Celluloid
“It looks like a typical micro budget indie horror film, what else? Interiors are shot inside tiny tents or against a papier-mâché rock wall that’s supposed to resemble a cave. Exteriors are shot in a desert so windy, dialogue sometimes gets garbled. That’s when the audio isn’t fighting with a soundtrack that ridiculously overemphasizes onscreen events with generic music.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt
“The breasts are plentiful but as the movie progresses the gore came out. American Mummy goes from a campy 80’s teen flick to a no budget 80’s horror, where the special effects were made up as needed and on the spot. The film tries to teeter between horror and comedy similar to the Evil Dead.” Jason Minton, Without Your Head
Suziey Block (Dude Bro Party Massacre III; Exquisite Corpse; Entrance), Aidan Bristow, Aaron Burt, Esther Canata, Erin Condry, Rudy Marquez, Peter Marr.
Cougar Buttes, Lucerne Valley, Apple Valley and Northridge, California, USA
Related: The Shuffling Saga of The Mummy on Screen – article