Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mummies Alive Week: Bram Stoker's The Mummy

Are you kidding me?  While it's true that Bram Stoker wrote many other tales, isn't a little cheap to slap the name onto every one of them?  Hell, not every version of Frankenstein felt the need to call itself 'Mary Shelly's Frankenstein' after all.  Realistically, films like Shadowbuilder, Burial of the Rats and To Die For would not sell themselves.  This film is allegedly based on 'Bram Stoker's Jewel of the Seven Stars,' a story that is not exactly that famous.  I should note that this story has already been adapted into a film back in 1971, making this 1998 film a bit silly.  The film's biggest star is Louis Gossett Jr, which is probably the only thing it has going for it.  Other than that, we have Home Improvement's Richard Karn and Caroline in the City's Eric Lutes.  Star power if I've ever seen it!  The plot is silly and goofy, but I have plenty of time to get into that further down.  If you go to a book store, don't bother looking for...
The film begins with an old man being attacked in his study by...something.  We never see it- big shock.  The man's daughter calls in her old friend/boyfriend (Lutes) who comes in to help her.  He talks with his friend (Karn) about the situation, who is also an Egyptologist.  Well, at least they have something to talk about!  When they talk about an ancient curse that the lady brought up, he pretends to be stricken by magic and die.  That's kind of a dick move- I'm talking to both him and the filmmakers.  In the character's defense, he only does that once!  We get some more intrigue in the house as a housekeeper is attacked by flying glass and a Detective investigates everyone.  Lutes and the girl hook up, but something strange happens after he wakes up.  He meets up with Karn, who reveals that Gossett's character is evil, only for a midget mummy to pop out, stab King and turn him into Sand.  Our hero wakes up from this dream, making the whole scene- say it with me- entirely pointless.
Finally, Lutes meets up with Gossett Jr for real and he agrees to help out in the situation.  He used to send artifacts to the comatose dad.  This also makes him a suspect, as the last piece was sent from him.  He explains that the whole thing is related to some Egyptian Sorceress that the two had been looking into for years.  Gossett relays a Flashback in which he- as a kid- saw some magic kill people in a tomb.  Clearly, that would drive me to raid tombs too!  Lutes continues to just kind of look around and wonder what's going on.  Way to totally help, dude!  The Detective has an ulterior motive as he tries to find a gem, which is hidden in a safe.  He has a black guy go looking into the history of it, but the guy gets attacked in his apartment, wind or something.  Karn, in turn, tries to call and warn our hero, but dies when lightning strikes him in the phone booth.  Are you really dead this time?!?
The entire Third Act of the film gets weird, stays weird and only gets weirder still!  Gossett Jr leads the others in gathering material to do a ritual to put the Sorceress' spirit to rest.  They dig up some materials while the titular Mummy takes out some people.  Don't worry- none of them are that important.  Also, you can apparently die from being sucked into quicksand in a basement.  The ceremony takes place, but things take a dark turn.  Gossett Jr. really is evil, attempting to resurrect the Sorceress.  The price of being evil, unfortunately, is having to wear a silly hat (see below).  Our hero manages to take out Gossett Jr, but gets stabbed in the process.  A weird dream sequence/magic moment occurs and the film jumps to the pair leaving the house, the father having awoken from his coma.  They leave on a romantic trip, but our hero finds that his lady is the vessel for the Sorceress.  Dun dun dun.  The End.
Bram is rolling in his grave!  The plot of this movie silly, obtuse and a bit confusing.  I don't know a whole lot about the original story, but this movie is just kind of dumb.  It takes a while to really get going and I never quite got a handle on what was going on.  To be honest, there really is not a lot there, so they pad it out with numerous Karn scenes, a romantic sub-plot, Gossett Jr's story and the side characters.  When you get right down to it, it's just about a ceremony taking place, which happens in the last ten minutes.  The whole thing feels cheap, the effects are not great (when there even are any) and none of it is really that interesting.  The fake-out death for kind (the one in the dream) is actually more interesting than anything else.  When your Big-Lipped Alligator Moment tops the whole thing, you've done your job wrong.  There are some moments to be had here, but you have to be patient.  Just like it what Richard Karn thought after he saw it...
Up next, the ante is upped from just one Mummy.  That's right- there are several Mummies this time!  Stay tuned...

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