Here’s another sleeper that I owe to the fine folks over at the Horror Movie A Day site (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com). Thanks gents!
I was just recently bemoaning the fact that mummies are an underutilized movie monster. (And don’t bring up that crappy CGI-riddled Brendan Fraser series. Because it sucks, that’s why not!) So why the reluctance to embrace the mummy? They’re undead, like vampires and zombies—but they aren’t as charismatic as the former, nor as utilitarian as the latter. They’re slow, predictable, and only deadly in confined spaces.
To paraphrase Stephen King, “Uh oh, the mummy is chasing us. We’d better walk away briskly.” Fortunately, in Tale of the Mummy, veteran rock video director Russell Mulcahy (Razorback, Highlander) gives us Talos, a decent mummy upgrade from the ol’ Universal Pictures shuffler, and then smartly pumps up the Egyptian mysticism in order to flesh out the frights. Mulcahy’s predilection for flash-and-pop visuals works well here, making even the drearier parts of London look suitably glam-noir.
As these things so often do, the story begins with a doomed archeological expedition, this one led by (a round of applause, please) Christopher Lee, as Sir Richard Turkel. He and his cohorts unwisely enter the cursed tomb of Talos, a cruel and sadistic ex-pharaoh whose spirit gets awakened, only to be freed by Turkel’s granddaughter Samantha (Louise Lombard) 50 years later.
Talos wastes no time in wasting various reincarnated versions of himself (including a dog!), harvesting their organs in preparation for an impending planetary alignment that could restore him to full power (not a good thing for humanity, needless to say). His main method of whacking folks is rather clever, animating his bandages to flutter about formlessly in the breeze before strangling his victims. Tale of the Mummy is a fun, visually sumptuous yarn, one that moves quickly and looks great doing so.
Bonus: The cast is chock-full of familiar faces, and character-actor fan-boys and girls will squeal with delight at cameos by Christopher Lee, Shelley Duvall, Michael Lerner, and Jon Polito, not to mention young unknowns like Gerard Butler, Jack Davenport, and Sean Pertwee, who get some decent screen time here to pad those resumes for future greatness.
More mummies? Please?