Thursday, October 7, 2010

'The Mummy Lives' but you'll wish it didn't

The Mummy Lives (1995)
Starring: Tony Curtis, Leslie Hardy, Greg Wrangler, Jack Cohen, and Moshe Igvy
Director: Gerry O'Hara
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Entombed alive after getting frisky with a the God of Vengeance's favorite concubine, Aziru (Curtis) is restored to some semblance of life and given a chance to earn the god's forgiveness after the obnoxious media baron Lord Moxton (Cohen) breaks into and loots the temple that is his resting place in the name of archaeological science (and personal glory). All Aziru has to do is kill those who desecrated the temple and then sacrifice the reincarnated concubine (Hardy) to the gods and the stars.

"The Mummy Lives" claims to be based on Edgar Allan Poe's humorous tale "Some Words with a Mummy", but it plays out more like a rewrite of the classic 1932 film "The Mummy" by someone who missed the whole point of that story.

While we have a pair of lovers reunited across the ages--Tony Curtis as the revived ancient Egyptian priest who speaks with a pronounced New York accent while going on about how he's a true son of Egypt and so on, and Leslie Hardy as the current-day incarnation as the woman he loved and lost everything for--we don't have the love story that made "The Mummy" so engaging. Instead, we have an uninteresting plot about an unsympathetic villain stalking and killing a bunch of even less sympathetic characters, while preparing to sacrifice a young woman who's died and been reborn so many times that the god MUST have been able to reclaim his concubine at some point.

Not only does "The Mummy Lives" not have the engaging story of the 1932 version of "The Mummy", it also lacks the visual style of its forebearer. It also lacks the visual lushness of the 1959 "The Mummy", with which it also shares plot similarities. Finally, it features a lackluster cast of mediocre talent that can't hold a candle to the likes of Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Zita Johann, Yvonne Furneaux, David Manners and Peter Cushing--all of whom have played the parts featured in "The Mummy Lives" far better.

(The only actor who can't be described as mediocre is Tony Curtis, but he is as horribly miscast here as any role I've ever seen. And his performance is definately lazy... whould it have killed him to attempt SOME sort of accent? No one knows what a native speaker of ancient Egyptian who learns English through some strange magic would sound like... but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be like a butcher from Brooklyn.

If you're a fan of mummy movies who wants to see everything the horror subgenre has to offer, I suppose you should watch "The Mummy Lives"'s not as bad as "Mummy Raider" or even "The Mummy's Curse". However, the rest of us probably want to stick with 1932 version of "The Mummy", or the one made in 1959.

To read some of Poe's stories, including the one upon which this movie was based, click here to visit a small on-line anthology at Steve Miller's Classic Fiction Archive.

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