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Centuries ago, under the sands of ancient Egypt, a prince was buried and his tomb eternally curses so that no man would ever again suffer from his evil ways. But hundreds of years later on a greedy search for treasure, a group of archaeologists break the curses seal of the tomb. Every man vanishes without a trace, leaving behind only a log book - and a deadly warning of the legend of the bloodthursty TALOS. Fifty years later the log book ends up in the hands of the granddaughter of the head archaeologist, and she defiantly sets out to retrace his steps. Discovering the forbidden treasure, she recovers a sacred amulet and once again unleashes the savage power of the tomb. Racing through the streets of London, and against the force of a rare interplanetary lineup, she, along with the help of her original dig team and an American detective, desperately try to turn back the inhuman curse and to keep Talos from destroying all in his path in an attempt to gain immortal power. Written by
Can a movie be so bad its good and still a good movie in the normal way?
About a week ago, I said that I didn't believe that a movie could be "so bad it's good." Then I saw Russell Mulcahy's "Tale of the Mummy." The special effects are terrible, the lead actor is more wooden than a fencepost, and the movie is edited down so much that the storyline struggles to remain coherent. Yet, I still enjoyed it like I enjoy many movies; not because of it's badness (although that helped), but because it's still entertaining.
Admittedly, the storyline is not original at all (then again, this is a monster movie, and movies of this ilk generally have to follow a relatively rigid formula). An archaeologist, Sir Richard Turkel (Christopher Lee) has just discovered a mummy's tomb. Not heeding an ominous warning, he and his crew perish. Fifty years later, his grand daughter, Sam (Louise Lombard) follows in his footsteps, determined to find out what happened. Unwittingly, she and her associates unleash the spirit of an evil prince seeking to return to human form.
Like I said, the storyline isn't going to be associated with the word "original." But the details are different, which makes it less boring. In fact, it's actually moderately engaging.
When I put the DVD in the player, I was expecting a movie that I would regret watching, filled with bad acting and no plot coherency, and so on (I love Ancient Egypt, so I sort of had to see it). Actually, though, the acting is pretty good. Louise Lombard may have been a last minute casting replacement, but she's good in the role of Sam. She's comfortable in the role of the heroine, and makes a Sam in to a surprisingly believable character. Her co-star, Jason Scott Lee, isn't as successful. In fact, he's pretty bad. Riley is supposed to be the hard-boiled detective, but Lee is about as malleable as concrete. Fortunately, the actors with the smaller parts are better. Sean Pertwee is good as Sam's co-worker on the expedition, who after seeing visions when entering the tomb, is now on the edge of a nervous breakdown (you'll understand if you see the movie). Better known actors Michael Lerner, Shelly Duvall are solid as the modern day archaeologist and the fortune teller, respectively. Jack Davenport and Gerard Butler (who, sorry to his fans, is only on screen for about 5 minutes), are good as well. And Christopher Lee is good in the film's top-billed cameo.
However, the special effects are hideously bad. They are so bad that they make the graphics on my N64 look good. I realize that this was made eleven years ago, and I'm sure no one will disagree that special effects have improved by lightyears, but "The Matrix" was made only a year later. Still, the effects are so bad that they become unintentionally funny, and they turn the movie into a cheesily enjoyable experience. That being said, I have to admit, that there are a few mildly chilling moments in the film.
The only real problem that actually hurts the movie is that it's been edited down to its bare bones. The foreign versions have an additional 30 minutes, and that's obvious here. Many characters are undeveloped (one of the main characters had none at all), and some important plot points are missing, making the storyline (which, as I said, is somewhat interesting) borderline incoherent. And I never thought I'd say this, but for a movie that's rated R for "violence and gore," there's really no blood to speak of. A little more blood (and nudity, which was once a staple of these kinds of movies) could have given the movie a little more edge.
"Tale of the Mummy" surprised me. It's both entertaining because of its badness, and also because it's reasonably entertaining regardless. Do I recommend it? I liked it, although having a few beers in you before you start wouldn't hurt. It could be fun watch and laugh at the bad special effects (this could make a great drinking game), but it's also a decently made movie. It could be hard to find (I got it on Netflix), and although it's not for everyone (certainly if you're expecting something that's actually scary), it's worth a shot.
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