"The Mummy Lives" is an American direct-to-video flick from 1993 starring Tony Curtis in the titular role when he was 67 years-old. The plot's typical to older mummy movies: Forbidden love in the ancient Egyptian world results in the guilty guy getting entombed alive, usually with the object of his desire. In the modern day the tomb is desecrated by archaeologists and the mummy seeks vengeance. The refreshing twist here is that when Curtis' character is resurrected he looks like his normal self, at least his face anyway; his hands look like death itself. Leslie Hardy plays a woman interested in Egyptology and she may be the mummy's beloved, Kia, reincarnated. Greg Wrangler plays a psychologist who takes interest in her.
This is a drama/mystery with light horror elements so don't expect heavy gore and scares. While it's clearly low-budget, it has numerous strengths, particularly the basic fish-out-of-water plot with the ancient mummy becoming a pretty interesting character in the modern world. I'm not sure how he knows how to speak English though, but I assume the god he prays to gives him the knowledge/power.
In any case, the Mummy's offended by the desecrations of Egyptian crypts and points out the obvious: How can archaeologists justify desecrating burial sites? How much time has to go by for such activity to be deemed acceptable in the name of research and science? The Mummy also makes a great point to the woman: The modern world is science-oriented, but passionless; and without passion there is no life. While the Mummy is a somewhat fascinating character and you find yourself rooting for him, the ending drops the ball. I don't want to say too much, but the Mummy essentially becomes the hero in the film and the filmmakers contradict this by insisting on tacking-on a more conventional horror ending. The film was unique as it was so they should've just gone all the way, if you know what I mean. I wish they had the courage to do this because it could've been a great or near-great independent movie.
Still, there's enough good here to recommend it to fans of unique independent movies (however, if you're addicted to a strict Hollywood "blockbuster" diet, flee as fast as you can). For one, the three main characters are effective and, like I said, the Mummy is an interesting character and you'll find yourself rooting for his cause. Although Hardy is too thin for my tastes, she's a likable and worthy protagonist; and Wrangler is an excellent masculine co-star. Secondly, you can't beat the authentic Egyptian locations. Compare this with Hammer's "The Mummy" (1959), which was shot entirely in England with lame "Egyptian" sets. Speaking of which, people criticize Tony Curtis for being miscast in this movie and yet Christopher Lee played the same character in the Hammer film and no one seems to criticize him as being miscast, not to mention that film is regarded fairly well while this one is typically lambasted, which is odd because -- low-budget or not -- this is the better film. Thirdly, the score is diversified and all-around excellent.
The film runs 97 minutes and was shot in Egypt and Israel.
GRADE: C+ or B- (keeping in mind that it's a low-budget direct-to-video flick)
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