Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wrap It Up: Tale of the Mummy

Russell Mulcahy is a self-centered jerk.  Yes, the man directed a great film called Highlander, The Shadow and as a film that fate seems determined to not let me see- Razorback.  Of course, this guy also made Silent Trigger, Resident Evil: Extinction and Highlander II.  How can you keep working after Highlander II?  Unlike those Wes Craven Presents films, the guy's name is just not famous enough.  Besides, fans who know his name don't really associate him with horror.  Sure, there are decapitations in Highlander, but even that film was made over twenty years ago!  I'll try to get past this bit of silliness, but I must mention one thing.  The movie features Jason Scott Lee as the lead, a man who would also be in the sequels to Dracula 2000 (a Wes Craven Presents film).  There is someone else here who shows, but why spoil the fun?  No, you'll just have to wait and see.  Get used to disappointment, British accents and very-dated effects from this 1999 film.  If you're still curious about this little-seen film, follow me for the ride.  Get out your sand skin for my review of...
The film begins with some silly narration from Christopher Lee.  I'm getting Howling II flashbacks!  Instead of being in space, Mr. Lee is in Egypt looking to dig up the remains of some mummy who is feared.  Wow, how original.  His group- which includes stock actor John Polito- goes down, despite the warnings of the natives.  If nobody listens to you guys ever, why do you still bother?  They go down and crack open the seal, only to be struck by 'the mummy's curse.'  Actually, it appears to be a several hundred year-old fart from the Mummy that causes them all to die.  Lee drags himself to safety, only to find that his torso has become sand and split in half.  Did anyone really think that Lee would survive past the first ten minutes, especially in a flashback?  In the present day, a young woman is at the same site with a bigger, more scientific crew.  The group makes small talk when...Gerard Butler walks in.  Yeah, he's in this movie!  He's apparently the lead girl's fiancee, which gives you an idea how long he will last.  The group are lowered down in Hazmat suits and see inside.  The group gets distracted, allowing Butler to climb in and grab a trinket.  His way back is gone, however, and he falls to his death.  Thanks for coming, Gerard.  See you in a more famous horror film next year!
The film jumps over to London where the rest of the action takes place.  A murder or two takes place, both of which involve body parts being removed after death.  It must be those evil EMTs from Cardiac Arrest again!  This is where we get our first taste of this movie's special effects- save for Lee's death- and boy are they...mediocre.  Want to know what really seals the deal?  The mummy's early form consists of him flying- yes, flying- around as CG cloth.  He doesn't have a body- just the wrappings!  Lame!  The detective working the murder case is Jason Scott Lee, the man who would be in Dracula II and III- as mentioned above.  His job here is to talk in cliched dialog, fight people and be a romantic lead.  Guess which of the three is his strong suit?  The mummy continues his rampage in the city as a Red Herring rears it's head in the form of her former comrade from the dig.  Of course, we know who's killing the people, so this plot thread is *entirely pointless.*  In a bit of exposition, the woman explains that a bunch of the people went crazy in the aftermath of the mummy being unearthed.  The reason you didn't show this until now is...what exactly?

The mummy continues his rampage but eventually turns his focus towards our heroine.  In the other plot, the 'crazy' guy is trying to stop the mummy, but fails.  For that story, see tomorrow's Poor Bastards of Cinema.  To help himself, he seeks out his old friend and psychic...Shelly Long?  Yeah, she's in this movie too...for some reason.  Eventually, the 'crazy' guy gets caught in our heroine's apartment.  He retells the history of the mummy, another thing that may have been interesting to show earlier.  Basically, he was a Greek heretic who fled to Egypt, only to be killed and mummified.  Unfortunately for him, his followers were all crazy and ate his organs, as opposed to mummifying them.  His quest has been to get those back...from their reincarnated selves in the present.  Yeah, that's not completely-silly or anything.  He chases down our heroine- see last week's Poor Bastards of Cinema- and catches her, but doesn't kill her.  That seems stupid, but the reason will prove to be even stupider.  The 'crazy' guy eventually dies, but has his body used as a vessel to find our heroine.  The group splits up, with the scientist being killed by a possessed Shelly Long.  How often do I get to type that?  It all builds to a showdown between a fleshy mummy and Lee.  He shoots our heroine to stop her from being sacrificed, only to find out that he was the real subject.  He dies and gets his body stolen by the mummy, dooming all of humanity.  The End.

This movie, well, it sucks.  The plot is stupid, aided in no part by the bad effects.  The idea of not having the mummy be in full form until the end is just a giant tease.  It would be worth it if either they're CG effects or their live-action mummy effects were spectacular.  While the live-action stuff is a lot better, it's not worth it.  The acting ranges from dull (Jason Scott Lee) to over-the-top (Sean Pertwee as the crazy guy).  That's never a good spectrum, is it?  The whole film just feels like a second-rate horror film.  There are some good ideas here and it is certainly better than some other, David DeCoteau-directed films of the genre.  Mind you, I still refuse to have shit like that be my litmus test.  This movie is just not good.  The whole package feels cheap, but also full of itself.  With it's strange plot twists, silly effects and ass-backwards storytelling, it just didn't work for me.  Maybe this movie has some fans out there...but I have to wonder how many people have even heard of it.  I bet Dawn of the Mummy has more viewers than this one!

Up next, a minor cult classic from the '80s gets some attention.  I hope you like zombies, crazy people and glowing eyes.  Stay tuned...

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