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La cabeza viviente (1963)

 |  Horror  |  29 May 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 82 users  
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A group of archaeologists break into the tomb of an ancient Aztec general, arousing the warrior's head and sending his undead servant out to take revenge on the careless scientists.



, (as A. López Portillo)
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Cast overview:
Mauricio Garcés ...
Roberto / Acatl (la cabeza viviente)
Ana Luisa Peluffo ...
Marta / Xochiquétzal
Abel Salazar ...
Inspector Toledo
Germán Robles ...
Prof. Muller
Guillermo Cramer ...
Xiu (the high priest)
Antonio Raxel ...
Prof. Urquizo
Eric del Castillo ...
Detective killed by Xiu
Salvador Lozano ...
Prof. Rivas
Álvaro Matute ...


A group of archaeologists break into the tomb of an ancient Aztec general, arousing the warrior's head and sending his undead servant out to take revenge on the careless scientists. Written by Jeremy Lunt <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

tomb | head | aztec indian | archeology | See All (4) »


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Release Date:

29 May 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Living Head  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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References Caltiki, the Immortal Monster (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

Mind-numbing, Headless Horror From Churubusco-Azteca
22 May 2000 | by (Wichita, KS USA) – See all my reviews

During the 1960s, auteur K. Gordon Murray bought the American release rights to a number of Mexican-produced horror films (including a couple of El Santo's earlier films), redubbed them in Coral Gables, FL, sold them to American-International Television for TV release.

Charity compels me to say that the results were "unique." Horror cinema has long held a place in the Mexican film industry, with series like the Nostradamus (a vampire, not the famed seer) films and seemingly endless films concerning mummies, werewolves, and their frisky, lethal friends.

Then there is THE LIVING HEAD.

In style and feel, this isn't all that different from these other black-and-white spookers. Sets are adequate but have a stagey feel to them, the set dressing is erratic, and the tension could be cut with a rather dull soup spoon. Still, this is a watchable little production -- much more than Universal-International's living head entry of a few years earlier.

The opening is in the Aztec past, where their chief warrior has just been disgraced (i.e., killed, which is a major no-no). A maiden is held responsible for this and is sealed into his tomb, with the dead man's head and the grim, dedicated head priest.

Centuries later, obviously being blissfully aware of curses and other down sides of their trade, archaeologists enter the tomb and cart off the head. Also taken is the death ring worn by the dead maiden, who's by now a pile of dust.

The priest's body is also carried off. In a darkened storeroom, it comes to life and places itself under the head's orders. The chief scientist's two companions are killed -- their hearts removed from their bodies by the revived mummy's stone knife.

The police arrive, in the person of Abel Salazar (best known for playing vampires and the sorcerer/creature in THE BRAINIAC). In spite of the priest's habit of carelessly leaving the still dripping hearts on the table in front of the head, nobody puts one and one together and tosses the head into the nearest fireplace.

In their defense, I should mention that, when it's not beetling ferociously at the camera, the head has a mask over its face. Nobody thinks to look beneath this mask, behind which the head is probably sticking out its tongue and crossing and criss-crossing its eyes in secret glee at how well things are working out. Jack Nicholson would have done wonders with this role.

The archaeologist's daughter has already put on the death ring, and is getting psychic images of the killings, which does the police no good. Everyone of course pays no attention whatsoever to this potential lead. Women are so hysterical and imaginative!

Maybe it's just me, but with as many odd things as are happening here, I'd have trusted even the flimsiest lead proposed by the family dog, at this point of the game.

The head now commands her (through the ring, which she's already tried to throw away) to kill her father. In the big resolution, love conquers all and the head and the revived priest are thwarted.

Interesting little film, but not worth staying up until dawn to watch. Set the VCR for this one.

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