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If you are looking for a slasher or a monster movie, you will be
disappointed. If you are looking for a moody, humorous, beautifully-shot B
movie, this is it. As in his previous film, Nadja, Michael Almereyda's
"monster" has human frailties and desires. He manages to find humor in his
characters' constant drunkenness (why did they come to Ireland to try to
out!?) and conveys this drunken feeling in the way the scenes cut from one
to the next. The inventive cinematography leaves several scenes etched in
your memory, and the sometimes-trip-hop soundtrack is very hip and lends
the dark mood. The pacing starts out slow but becomes engrossing and
In the end Trance/Eternal/Kiss of the Mummy is a fun film and merits multiple viewings. My sole complaint is that the visuals and the soundtrack really deserve and would benefit from large-screen presentation.
Here we have a great horror movie, presented in a very down-to-earth manner. Reminds me of classic English movies, combined with excellent acting skills of Christopher Walken, and a story line that keeps your ass tight on a sofa till the dramatic end. For people who don't necessarily need fancy special effects, and million dollar explosions to enjoy a good movie with an idea!
...these are the words that came to mind after watching 1998's "THE
ETERNAL Kiss of the Mummy", originally titled "Trance". The story is
about an alcoholic couple who travel to the wife's home town in
Ireland, supposedly to sober up and give their son the opportunity to
meet his grandmother. They discover that their weird uncle (Christopher
Walken) has a 2000 year-old mummy of a Druid witch in the basement,
which he's trying to revive!
This is a Gothic tale told in the modern day and struck me as a Hammer film if it were released today, albeit it lacks the typical Hammer women. Yet, it does have Alison Elliott in the starring role of the alcoholic wife and -- although she's not in the league of the typical Hammer female -- she's alluring enough and a great actress to boot. At first, she'll strike you as the girl-next-door type -- a sort-of plain Jane -- but there's something about her face, her expressions and aura that increasingly pique your interest.
"THE ETERNAL Kiss of the Mummy" is not your typical modern-day horror schlock. It doesn't shoot for conventional horror and gore, but it IS pretty creepy in a Gothic sense. I saw "Big Bad Wolf" before I viewed this one and, although "Big Bad Wolf" is thrilling and ultra gory, it's not scary, mainly because the filmmakers & cast cop a semi-campy vibe. "THE ETERNAL", by contrast, plays it completely straight and the foggy Irish moors & centuries-old mansion add to the ghostly ambiance.
There's also a quality soundtrack with a few stand-out alternative rock numbers, like the one that plays during the end credits, "My Head Becomes the Sky" by Tara Baoth Mooney.
Like I said, the film struck me as a Hammer film if it were made today. As such, there's a Gothic beauty to it, which makes it a pleasure just to watch even if the story is "sluggish", as some criticize. It's clear that director/writer Michael Almereyda was aiming for art more than common horror thrills. I'd compare it to "The Mothman Prophecies" in this sense, albeit not as good.
After viewing, I reflected on the seemingly nonsensical story and certain things started to make sense: This is only a story about a Druid witch coming back to life on the surface; it's really about a woman in bondage to alcoholism who comes face-to-face with her lower nature -- her self-destructive side (her "id" or "flesh") -- not to mention confronting her incestuous uncle -- and trying to prevail. Going back to her home town -- her heritage, her roots -- enables her to see WHY she turned to alcohol for succor in the first place.
In essence, this is a Gothic tale about the purging of one's fleshly demons.
The film runs 95 minutes.
For the art house crowd comes this critically panned film never released
theatrically in the U.S. `Nadja' director Michael Almareyda comes up with
his skewed version of The Mummy, complete with hip characters, fun
surprises, a great alternate music soundtrack, Christopher Walken doing a
Irish accent but otherwise being his quirky old self, brilliant
cinematography from Jim Denault and a flair for the unexpected.
The perfectly enjoyable heroes are Allison Elliott and Jared Harris, as a cheerfully drunken couple going to Ireland to dry out. The movie acknowledges the "alcoholic" problem by having them not deal with it or call attention to it, and it's to the movie's credit that it's never an "issue" or makes them into completely awful or unbelievably irresponsible parents (they're just normally irresponsible, like most parents.)
* * * for The Eternal, an imperfect gem.
This movie is NOT a thrill-ride horror movie, which may be the reason
many seem not to have liked it. It's slow, character-driven and moody,
but I loved it.
From the opening scene of a young girl on a spooky Irish moor to the last image of a woman in a white dress sinking down into the endless black of the sea, I found this film enthralling.
Other things I love about this movie: The opening song, with the line "And no one is afraid/Of themselves" (a key to the characters' struggle)--- The cry of anguish when a mother finds her son dead (we see it but we can only imagine the sound of it)--- Death by shards of a broken rock-and-roll album (and the cutaway to the murderess on the beach, sad but resigned to the fact of her own survival).
These are only a few of the poetic moments of this movie. Love and death. Guns and liquor. A true black-Irish sense of humour. A great horror movie for grown-ups, and for children wise beyond their years.
You might say that 1998 was the Year of the Mummy. Decades went by like
desert sands in an hourglass without seeing so much as a single atrophied
undead Egyptian dragging his moldy bones and rotting cerements out of the
tomb and across the silver screen. Then, all of a sudden, there were not
but three mummy projects in the works. The most high profile and successful
was Universal's bone-headed, big budget re-make of "The Mummy". The
competition, Russell Mulcahey's "Talos the Mummy", was retitled "Tale of
Mummy" and downgraded to a DTV (Direct-To-Video) release. Likewise, Michael
Almereyda's "Trance" - the tale not of an Egyptian mummy, but an Irish
was re-titled "The Eternal: Kiss of the Mummy" and by-passed movie theatres
in favor of a video release. And that's a shame, because Almereyda (who
his mark with the arty "Dracula's Daughter" remake "Nadja") crafted an
little Gothic fairytale that is far more interesting and inspired than its
boring and bloated competition.
The plot concerns Nora (Elliott), a young American woman of Irish origin who, well, lives up the stereotype of her people and is a bit of a lush. She and her equally inebriated husband Jeff (Harris, who played Dracula's son in "Nadja") are coming home from their latest drunken binge one night when Nora takes a tumble down the stairs of their New York apartment building. Nora survives the fall, but is soon visited by headaches, nosebleeds and hallucinations for her trouble.
Determined to dry out for the sake of their young son, the couple head to Ireland (not *exactly* the best place to give up the sauce) where they pay a visit her grandmother and Uncle Bill (a typically gaunt and creepy Chris Walken) in their huge, labrynthinian mansion. Uncle Bill harbors a dark and fascinating secret in the basement: the perfectly preserved, mummified remains of a Druid witch; one of those fascinating "bog-men" you might have read about in National Geographic or seen on the Discovery Channel. Only this one is considerably livelier than your average bog-person and, as it happens, turns out to be a distant ancestor of Nora's.
Poor old Uncle Bill quietly explains to her that the druid witch was neither good not evil in her life, but more like a force of nature. But he and we learn different when the mummy gets her groove on and sets out to steal the body, soul and identity of her hapless descendant.
One of the things I like about Almereyda's neo-Gothic-monster movies is the fact he doesn't shy away from the kitschier and pulpier elements inherent to the genre. On the contrary, he rushes to embrace them for his own purposes. During the last reel, our heroes try to burn, break, stake, and even ELECTROCUTE the Druid bitch in an orgy of retro mayhem reminiscent of old 50's Sci-Fi horror epics like "The Thing".
It's a damn shame this clever cross between a mummy movie and a witchcraft thriller didn't get the theatrical release and critical attention it deserved. Like Stuart Gordon's ghastly gem "Castle Freak", this is a DTV release well worth the rental. It has all of the atmospherics and snappy dialog of "Nadja" without any of the annoying and pretentious Pixelvision crap. Here's hoping Alemereyda takes a shot of re-vamping werewolves next! The boy got game.
A very interesting story. I think this film could have been so much more with a bigger budget. In my opinion, this was a very marketable movie idea with not enough financial backing. I would have liked to have seen more of Christopher Walken and even more chilling special effects throughout. The dialogue was a little dry, but was saved by the great cast. This movie is worth seeing at least once. It would have been better to see on the big screen but was only released direct-to-video in the U.S.
This is an unusual horror movie that won't be to everyones' tastes,
though I think it's probably more accessible than the same director's
unusual vampire movie Nadja.
Nora and Jim travel to Ireland, so that their young son can meet the mother's ailing grandmother. Nora's uncle is caring for her, with the help of a wise young girl named Alice that he has adopted. The uncle is decidedly strange (that he's played by Christopher Walken should be a clue), and has an obsession with a mummy in the basement. The mummy is an Iron Age Druid witch who had been preserved in a peat bog.
Nora and Jim are very much in love, and love alcohol; they're a little bit like Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man series. Nora's been having blackouts and visions that are possibly unrelated to her drinking, but she is supposed to quit drinking anyway. Nora begins to wish she hadn't returned home to Ireland.
Among the really strong suits of the film are the excellent cinematography and locations. They can be chillingly beautiful at times, as is the soundtrack.
It has a great song by Cat Power, "Rockets," which is on at least a couple of her albums. I first learned of her from this movie, and am very glad I did. It has a great song by Varnaline, "Sweet Life" (incidentally, available in Real Audio form on their official website), which plays on the jukebox at the Irish pub. It has a great song by Episonic, "My Head Becomes the Sky," which plays over the end credits. The score is also quite effective.
Beautiful looking and sedately handled, but immensely muddled
independent art house horror feature by writer / director Michael
Almereyda. Kind of similar in style to his film "Najda" four years
earlier, which I don't think so highly of (other than the excellent
soundtrack that accompanied it).
Nora and Jim (who are alcoholics) along with their son leave America and head to Ireland to visit Nora's grandmother. Despite the advice of their doctor not to go, as Nora one night with Jim got on the drink and she ended up falling down some stairs leaving her with a minor concussion. When getting there, she meets her uncle where he takes her down the basement to show her a decomposed body which he believes to a centuries old druid witch. Could this be the connections to the headaches and visions plaguing Nora's mind, as she'll find out when the witch is revived.
"Trance" is a touch better, but still engulfed by similar problems and nonetheless keeps the same positives. Again this atypically brooding fable is not for everyone, but it managed to hold my attention and I found the direction less concerned with its distracting artsy mechanics (than say in "Nadja") although they're still evident. There are some delirious images, consisting of jaded visions rocking the main protagonist's mind. These stylised passages hold a certain arresting, if haunting charge. However this is when it's not in its nauseating head spin of mangled ideas. While the plot has a slight structure and little narrative drive, it's stretched out by its unfocused fabricated episodic developments with its dry, upfront and moody trimmings. Every one of these characters / including the witch / monster of the piece are damaged, but still humane vessels in the search of something to make them complete. Secrets are buried, to only be awoken.
It's messy and meanders, but strangely alluring like caught in a drunken, abstract state. I put it down to the performances. A breathtaking Alison Elliot (in dual roles) and narky Jared Harris acquit themselves to their lead roles. Lois Smith holds strong. Christopher Walken looking rather weary goes about things in a sober, but underlining twisted manner. Also Jason Millar's inclusion is merely a throwaway cameo with an amusing line. Almereyda's slickly calculative direction is switched on, making good use of the lush backdrop consisting of a stunning beach line and the Gothic interiors of mansion that the enclosed action mostly takes place in. Intimate photography is sharply engineered and well-intended. The brilliant soundtrack is notable with it tunes (that are perfect choices), and the music score is clinically alienating but whimsical in flight.
This film is brilliant. I love the brash nature of the characters.
Christopher Walken is magnificent. JIM is your old drinking buddy. Nora
is you old school girlfriend. The mansion is great is like resident
evil without zombies. Just your crazy grandma, the characters above, a
witch, a bog man, a few kids, etc. Its like a trip.
Keywords Druid Bog Ireland Walken Witch. I get the low rating because just think of the average IQ of the simpletons. We that appreciate movies like this are on a different level. I need to be rude sorry but this is one of my favorite movies. This film is a great story ! if you do not pay attention you will have no idea what going on. However! if you consume at least half a bottle of Jameson it makes it fun because that is whats happening in the movie.
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