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A collection of artifacts from an archeological dig in Egypt are brought to the famous Louvre museum in Paris, and while experts are using a laser scanning device to determine the age of a sarcophagus, a ghostly spirit escapes and makes its way into the museum's electrical system. Museum curator Faussier (Jean-Francois Balmer) brings in a noted Egyptologist, Glenda Spencer, to examine the findings, and she announces that the mummy inside the coffin was actually the evil spirit Belphegor. Lisa, who lives across the street from the museum, follows her runaway cat into the museum after closing time, where she is accidentally given a shock that sends the stray spirit into her body. Soon, Lisa is disguising herself as Belphegor and making off with the rare Egyptian treasures on display at the museum, convinced that they are rightfully hers. When "Belphegor" proves more than a match for the Louvre's security forces, renowned detective Verlac is brought out of retirement to find out why the ... Written by
A three thousand year old mummy wreaking havoc in the famous Louvre Museum in Paris was the subject of a popular French TV series for youngsters from the '60s, starring legendary chanteuse Juliette Gréco. Now, young director who undoubtedly grew up with the show Jean-Paul Salomé, who would go on to make the equally nostalgic ARSENE LUPIN with Continental matinée idol du jour Romain Duris, has turned this pivotal childhood experience into an expensive and undeniably good-looking multiplex blockbuster. The elaborate CGI alone must have eaten up a considerable chunk of the budget.
Erstwhile centerpiece Gréco even does a brief walk-on for those in the know during an atmospheric cemetery scene where she makes fleeting eye contact with replacement Sophie Marceau, a talented thespian best known to US audiences for her purely decorative turn in Mel Gibson's supremely silly BRAVEHEART. Though obviously aimed at family audiences, this fairly old-fashioned adventure yarn will please moms and dads rather than their offspring who have become accustomed to far more gruesome sights than the extremely mild horrors on display here.
For the uninitiated, this intentionally naive mix of scares and chuckles should prove something of a disconcerting experience. For example, in spite of its 1935 Egypt prologue, complete with a tomb desecration whose perpetrators wind up swiftly dispatched, the movie draws less inspiration from old Universal or Hammer mummy chillers than from a long line of possession flicks ranging from the modest WITCHBOARD series to the landmark EXORCIST, with Marceau as beleaguered heroine Lisa, unwilling vessel to the embalmed one's vengeful spirit, doing a PG version of Linda Blair's finest hour for the film's grand finale. More importantly for a pervert like myself, she also bares her shapely butt and (right) boob on separate occasions, just so you won't forget this is a French film after all ! Diminutive heart-throb Frédéric Diefenthal, who rose to prominence playing the clumsy policeman hero of the wildly popular TAXI movies with Samy Naceri, also registers strongly as her frequently beaten up romantic foil. Dependable old timer Michel Serrault (forever swishy Alban from the original LA CAGE AUX FOLLES) gets all the best lines as a retired cop turned security expert and even a halfway decent farcical romance with bumbling Egyptologist Julie Christie, the latter handling her French dialog in disarming Laurel & Hardy fashion.
Once viewers can get past the fact that this movie's not intended to scare the living daylights out of them though the image of the diabolical Belphégor in full ceremonial burial dress hovering through the museum corridors has an eerie Jean Rollin poetry to it they can fully enjoy this handsomely mounted horror comedy for its ingratiating performances, amiably ludicrous set pieces and stunningly shot Paris settings with all tourist traps present and accounted for. A genuinely haunting score by then fledgling composer Bruno Coulais, who of course went on to write the music for the immensely successful LES CHORISTES, provides the icing on the cake.
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