Friday, December 21, 2007


When I first laid out the ground rules for the blog, I debated whether or not I should include mummies. They were, after all, dead bodies who now moved and more often than not preyed upon the living. Though I ultimately decided that mummy films and zombie films were two distinct camps with their own separate rules and should probably be kept apart (I may change my mind if I start running out of zombie flicks), I still wanted to include Frank Agrama's DAWN OF THE MUMMY, an Italian/Egyptian co-production from 1981 that's merely a zombie movie wrapped in moldy bandages.

If the title wasn't enough of a tip-off, MUMMY was one of the myriad pictures coming out of Italy in the early '80s trying to capitalize on the success of DAWN OF THE DEAD. The prologue shows a spark of potential as an ancient pharaoh is entombed along with his slaves in a crumbling pyramid, and a curse is placed so that anyone who disturbs his resting place will be killed. At first I thought this would be a juicier version of the Universal mummy pictures with Lon Chaney Jr., since up to this point it follows the blueprint exactly, but as the movie proper begins it soon became clear that I'd set my sights far too high.

Flash forward to the present day, when a group of models and fashion photographers from New York happen upon the mummy's tomb and decide it'd be the perfect place for a photo shoot. The pharaoh and his slaves (who look much like the zombies from Fulci's ZOMBIE, itself an international moneymaker) soon rise up to wreak havoc--i.e., stalk people and munch on them--to avenge their disturbed sleep.

It takes a long time (and when I say long time I mean ninety percent of the movie) to get to the good stuff, since the vast majority of the movie consists of talk, talk, talk with a little exposition thrown in to mix things up a bit. When the mummies/zombies finally get to do their thing in the last reel, there is some gory antics that fans enjoy--throats are bitten, entrails are spilled and slurped--but it's too little too late. Most viewers will have bailed before the gruesome climax gets underway, since the preceeding eighty minutes are drier than the Sahara. Needless to say, if you have the chapter-skipping abilities of a DVD handy (or maybe a half-rewound VHS tape) you might want to simply jump to the end and enjoy the twenty or so minutes DAWN OF THE MUMMY is actually interesting.

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