Sunday, 1 April 2012

Bram Stoker's Legend of the Mummy (1997)

Utterly terrible in all regards save that it’s pretty much a laugh a minute for anyone with a predilection for films that are utterly dreadful, Jeffrey Obrow’s attempt (and that’s being kind) to make yet another version of Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Jewel of the Seven Stars’ veers wildly between US TV movie amateurishness and AIRPLANE-style brilliance. 
After a meaningless pre-credits sequence involving a small boy, an Egyptian tomb and a man whose head appears to have been pushed into tarmac, we flash forward to 1990s San Francisco where Lloyd Bochner, a million miles (and almost as many years) away from the big shoulder padded world of DYNASTY, and playing the part of Egyptologist Abel Trelawney, is busy translating hieroglyphs in his study. Something goes horribly wrong for Mr Trelawney but very right for Mr Bochner, as his character’s subsequent paralysis means he doesn’t have to act for the rest of the film. I could say that no-one else actually acts in this film either but that might be considered unfair. Amy Locane, ‘playing’ Trelawney’s daughter Margaret with lacquered hair that’s only slightly more mobile than her expression, calls over floppy-haired hero Eric Lutes to help her out. He gets to meet her chauffeur, gardener and maid, all of whom have appalling affected accents that I think are meant to be English. The sexy short-skirted maid tells Eric about ‘all that banging going on behind closed doors’ while down in the cellar there’s a mummy that spends much of its time hiding behind some old bedsprings when it’s not eating cockroaches or the occasional misadventurer. 
A policeman with another awful English accent turns up and refuses to leave, babbling that ‘Corbeck’ is the only one who knows what’s going on. Corbeck is played by Louis Gossett, Jr channelling William Shatner to the extent you feel he must be doing it as some kind of twisted tribute. He’s currently in a mental institution and, in a scene that would be right at home in the above-mentioned Zucker brothers movie, he reveals that he only lives in his cell by choice before leaving it. Off he goes back to Trelawney’s house where daft things are happening, but not as daft as the reveal that the garden is full of buried mummy parts. While Eric is trying to retrieve his hand that has got stuck down a mummy’s leg Corbeck explains that he and Trelawney were looking for the key to open the tomb of Queen Tera that they have painstakingly rebuilt in the cellar without somehow ever actually managing to get into it. As luck would have it the mysterious key happens to be stuck down the leg Eric has his hand down and so it’s almost time for the finale, where Corbeck puts a helmet on his head that is clearly too small for him while Amy does a reasonable impersonation of the lady from the Scottish Widows adverts, if she couldn’t act. Queen Tera comes back to life, her right hand has seven fingers on it (I’ve forgotten to add that people have been found with seven scratch marks on their bodies) and Amy changes into a little girl. The policeman gets covered in three cockroaches and drowns in sand following a marvellous scene earlier that has shown Eric finding a receipt for ‘Six Tons Of Desert Sand’ in Bochner’s desk drawer, and pretty much everyone ends up dead.
I have spent too much time and too many words on this load of very silly rubbish already, and I still haven’t mentioned such jaw-dropping moments as Victoria Tennant playing a lady who is blind for no good reason and yet is capable of handing Eric a tiny slip of paper with Corbeck’s address written on it, or the very strange appearance of Aubrey Morris playing exactly the same role of a doctor that he does in Hammer’s far superior BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. The mummy that was in the cellar doesn’t even turn out to be the queen and I have no idea what happened to it or even if anyone involved with making this film remembered it was there by the time they got to the end. There is a sequel out there for people who prefer to spend their evenings doing something more headache-inducing than banging themselves over the head with a mallet but I think I might pass.

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