Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Mummy Lives

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Year: 1993

Director: Gerry O'hara

Cast: Tony Curtis, Greg Wrangler, Leslie Hardy, et al.

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Format Viewed: DVD (FS)

Tagline: Bound by destiny. Consumed by sin. His vengeance is eternal.

Fascinatingly dull museum scene.

Premise: Woman inherits money. Woman decides to go to Egypt. Woman experiences strange dreams/visions about being an ancient Egyptian princess while coincidentally an archaeological dig uncovers a new tomb. Archaeologists ignore hieroglyphic warnings of dire consequences for tomb robbers and enter tomb. Archaeologists disturb mummy. Mummy gets pissed and decides to go on rampage, sort of.

Props in action.

The DVD: Barebones (only menu option is Play Movie), full screen, video clear, audio adequate, overall typical of bargain bin releases.

The Movie: An feeble and scattershot plot is loosely woven around an ageing Tony Curtis, who apparently was cast in this purely for the name recognition he brought to the production; witness the bubble with his picture on the cover.

Starring who?

If you've seen the 1999 film THE MUMMY starring Brendan Fraser then you know the basics of the plot. The story revolves around the forbidden love affair of two paramours who, in ancient of days, were put to death by Egyptian priests. Fast forward a couple millennia to a relatively contemporary present and the female half of the pair has been apparently reincarnated in the body of a woman who, coincidentally, just happens to be visiting Egypt at the very moment archaeologists discover the very tomb in which her lover from the previous life; wrapped up like a mummy; was buried alive.

Burying the undead.

I don't usually like to compare a film to a movie made after it's release but it's interesting how THE MUMMY and THE MUMMY LIVES use the same basic premise yet are such vastly different movies. Tony Curtis plays a role similar to that Arnold Vosloo portrayed while Sandra Barnes is similarly filling the role of reincarnated lover as did Rachel Weisz. Both movies rely on flashback sequences to reveal, in dribs and drabs, information about the characters. Both movies contain a undercurrent of mysticism. Yet. .

Dance of love.

The main difference between THE MUMMY LIVES, besides cast and budget, and the aforementioned film is this movie lacks action and is nowhere near as much fun to watch. THE MUMMY LIVES presents a tale as dull and lifeless as a desiccated corpse. Worse, this dreary production has the feel of having been pieced together from bits and pieces of footage intended for a different movie altogether. (The post-production editing staff should either get an special award for ineptness or mastery of their art for managing to piece together something from utter trash, I'm not sure which.) Yet, despite it's faults, this is still better than 90% of the similarly themed Sci-Fi channel original movies that have been aired in the past couple of years.

Procession to nowhere.

Assessment: This title been in bargain bins for some time yet, despite being curious, I steered clear of it largely because of it's PG-13 rating. PG-13 ratings are to horror movies what political correctness is to reason and rationale thinking, or ketchup is to ice cream. They just don't go together. Yet, when it appeared at Big Lots for $3, I decided to give it a chance to shine.

Searching for a better movie.

Alas there seems to be far more wrong with this cinematic misstep than merely the rating. According to IMDB the writer responsible for this was the same person who wrote the screenplays for The Andromeda Strain (1971) and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979). Which makes one wonder just where the fault for this rotten egg really lays, with the writer, actors, production staff or is it merely a confluence of contravening gaffs? Because the movie does have it's moments it just doesn't gel very well overall.

Sleeping beauty.

To be fair Tony Curtis was well on in age when he appeared in this yet, as his part is a glorified cameo, one does wonder how a veteran actor of his caliber could be so misused. Thus perhaps the fault is with the direction? According to IMDB the director's credits are mostly for assistant director work yet, looking at some of the productions he has been part of, one would assume he was more than capable of doing better than this. Then again the one constant factor seems to be age. Virtually everyone involved in this production- from the writer, director, and even the primary name talent- seems to have been well on in age. And perhaps that is the problem for this movie truly has the stench of moldering decay and dust about it. What this movie needed was an injection of action and sensuality. Tony Curtis is good but he was pushing 70 when he starred in this and the producers made no attempt to make use of that fact. How much more interesting and poignant would the movie have been if his extreme age had been noted in the flashbacks? Certainly his love affair with the much younger Egyptian concubine would have been seen in a different light.

Verdict: We're all getting older, no getting around that fact, but just because we're getting old doesn't mean we want to be reminded of the fact by being bored to death. That, sadly, is all this movie does. I would thus recommended THE MUMMY LIVES only for harcore fans of Tony Curtis, those who must see every mummy film ever made, and b-movie gluttons. Otherwise steer clear and rent THE MUMMY, which managed to do much more with the same basic premise. You've been warned.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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