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Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 139: Tale Of The Mummy

Tale Of The Mummy
Mummy dearest

Despite doing over 100 horror movies reviews, I haven't watched a true mummy movie. Even though they fall under the classic monster movie category, I just never found mummies to be scary. Actually, that's not entirely true. I was terrified of the mummy exhibit at Museum of Natural History. Something about seeing corpses on display just didn't sit right with my younger self. When it comes to mummies on the big screen, though, they just don't do it for me. Maybe it's because they just look like a zombie wrapped in toilet paper. Maybe it's because the Brendan Fraiser Mummy trilogy was a fun adventure movie and not horror. Either way, it was time to give them a chance once again.

Tale of the Mummy is a 1998 horror movie starring Jason Scott Lee (The Jungle Book, Soldier) as Detective Riley. A group of archaeologists, led by Sir Richard Turkel, (Christopher Lee, Lord of the Rings, various Dracula movies) digging in Egypt discover the tomb of Talos, a powerful sorcerer/prince (I think, it's not really clear). They open the tomb, breaking the seal and unleashing a mystical wind, disintegrating their bodies. Half a century later, Sir Richard's log book ends up in the hands of his granddaughter Samantha (Louise Lombard, Hidalgo, CSI). Along with a team of archaeologists, Samantha excavates Talos's sarcophogus and puts it on display in London. A series of strange murders occurs throughout the city, with Detective Riley investigating. Each murder victim is found missing a specific body part. Riley teams up with Samantha and discovers that each missing body part was removed from Talos when he was mummified. Talos captures Samantha and it's up to Riley to stop him before the planets align and Talos is resurrected. But things are not what they seem.

"Damn am I dreamy!"

I have to commend the people involved with the movie for casting Jason Scott Lee in the lead role. It's not often you see someone of Hawaiian and Chinese descent in a lead role that isn't some sort of martial arts or historical movie. Kudos to them for going against the grain. They also wisely have Christopher Lee in the movie, though he's unfortunately in it for just a few minutes in the beginning. OK, now that I've gotten the compliments out of the way, I can get to the epic dressing-down that this movie deserves because holy fuck does it suck. This movie is a mess in every sense of the word. The story is half-assed, unclear, and flat-out boring. They tried to give a back story to Talos, but I couldn't follow and, frankly, I didn't care. There's a little side story with another archaeologist being played by Sean Pertwee (Soldier, The Mutant Chronicles) where he can see what Talos sees and then see what Sam sees and some other shit that doesn't really make sense or particularly affect the story.

Another major problem is the special effects. For a majority of the movie, Talos is a computerized mass of used toilet paper, floating through London and attacking people. Even for 1998, the effects used are embarrassingly bad. Remember the screen saver from Windows 95 that looks like a series of pipes going all over the place? That's what Talos looks like. It doesn't get much better when he gains an physical form which looks like a purple rubber alien suit. Didn't they realize that this looked at least a little stupid? The action is laughable and nothing in the movie is particularly scary or even exciting. The acting is fine, perhaps a little over-the-top at certain points, but it's one of the few bright spots in an otherwise black hole of entertainment.

Created in Final Cut Amateur

Mummies can be scary in the right hands. Unfortunately, the hands used to create Tale Of The Mummy must have been firmly jammed up someone's ass when they wrote this because it is incredibly shitty. The story is painfully bad, the special effects were bad even by 1998 standards. I read that there is actually a European version that is actually 20 minutes longer. Europeans already have enough to deal with with the collapse of the euro, they don't need to be tortured more by this terrible movie. Don't waste your time with Tale Of The Mummy.


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