Even if you haven't heard about the legendary “Mummies of Guanajuato” – a massive army of well-preserved human bodies first unearthed in Mexico nearly 150 years ago – chances are you've seen some of the horror films that were directly or partially inspired by them.
All Photos © Guanajuato Museo de las Momias
Beginning with references to Aztec mummies and similar undead walkers in Mexican horror films of the '60s and '70s (often pitting the monsters against popular wrestlers like El Santo), cinematic nods to the dessicated specimens also include Werner Herzog's classic 1979 version of Nosferatu – which included an extended scene of the mummies in close-up during the haunting opening credits – and the distinctive ghouls of Return of the Living Dead, which director Dan O'Bannon and designer William Stout based on images from the Guanajuato collection.
Apart from their many movie appearances, the mummies are also a vital part of Mexican culture: the Guanajuato exhibit, which includes over 100 preserved bodies of all ages (including the world's smallest mummy, a preserved fetus) is housed in its own museum, carefully studied by specialists from around the world. The museum receives hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
You can learn more about the heritage of the Guanajuato Mummies and see many more chilling photos at the museum's official site.
Want to see even more real-life mummies? Lots more? Then check out this massive legion of the dead discovered in the jungles of the Philippines!