THE LEGEND OF THE MUMMY [1997] [HCF REWIND]

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HCF may be one of the newest voices on the web for all things Horror and Cult, and while our aim is to bring you our best opinion of all the new and strange that hits the market, we still cannot forget about our old loves, the films that made us want to create the website to spread the word.  So, now and again our official critics at the HCF headquarters have an urge to throw aside their new required copies of the week and dust down their old collection and bring them to the fore…. our aim, to make sure that you may have not missed the films that should be stood proud in your collection.

 

HCF REWIND NO.78. THE LEGEND OF THE MUMMY  [US, 1997]

RUNNING TIME: 96 mins

AVAILABLE ON DVD

REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Offical HCF Critic

 

 

Egypt 1947, the Valley of the Sorcerer.  A young boy is carrying out a bit of tomb robbing and witnesses another robber open the tomb of Queen Tera and something burning the man’s face.   Marin County, California, the Present Day.  Egyptian artifact collector Abel Trelawny starts to put a broken stone tablet back together while he reads out loud the incantation on it.  Something attacks him and tears his arm, after which he is found in a coma by his daughter Margaret.  Worried and unsure what to do, she contacts her ex-boyfriend Robert Wyatt to help and he finds a set of bizarre instructions Trelawny apparently left behind to be followed to the letter.  When the maid is attacked by an unseen force which almost disfigures her, Robert seeks the advice of John Corbeck, an expert in Egyptology who was with Trelawny when he excavated Tera’s tomb, while Margaret is possessed by Tera……

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                             [proof that this film is not much talked about, this is the only pic I could obtain of it!]

 

The  1903 novel The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker [ best known, of course, for Dracula] is not a particularly well known or read book.  For some reason though, it has had four film versions and even two adaptations for TV and radio respectively.  Then again the premise of an ancient Egyptian queen taking revenge and one man’s plot to resurrect her is a pretty exciting one.  The first cinematic version was entitled Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb, made by Hammer in 1971 and was by far the best.  The Awakening from 1980 was a bit weaker and 1986’s The Tomb a lot weaker, which brings us to The Legend Of The Mummy, sometimes called Bram Stoker’s The Legend Of The Mummy.  This was a very hurriedly conceived and made production which was rushed out straight to DVD to cash in on the big success of the Brendan Fraser The Mummy.  I myself, despite having a distinct fondness for Mummy movies, had never seen it….until now.  And sadly, it’s pretty poor, a total mess of a film which fails to be kept afloat by its story and the odd effective scene.  I found it tolerable, but that might be partly due to my liking for Egyptian curses, bandaged killers and dead queens possessing the living.  You may actually find this movie very bad indeed.

The opening in the tomb is reasonably well handled and the scene following, when Trelawny reads the incantation and pays with his life, is clearly intended to echo the brilliant scene in the 1932 The Mummy when the guy reads aloud from the scroll and awakens the Mummy, who takes the scroll from him and leaves, leaving the man to cry; “he went for a little walk”.  Unfortunately, director Jeffrey Obrow is no Karl Freund, in fact he’s not even Uwe Boll, and the sequence has little effect.  Obrow’s direction is one of the worst things in this film, resolutely failing to make the most of proceedings, though as a scriptwriter he’s even worse [even taking into account the script was based on drafts by others].  At first it seems this is going to be a simple tale of a murderous Mummy, but about half way the Queen Tera possession and revival stuff from Stoker takes over and the Mummy is forgotten about!  Then there’s other random stuff like lots of mention of the number seven because Tera has seven fingers [?!], and chopped up Mummies in a garden.

All this may have been fine if the film had some atmosphere or fear; some great horror films thrive on randomness.  Unfortunately this has neither and is actually rather dull even if it certainly shouldn’t be with all the stuff going on.  The Mummy rips out a heart, breaks fingers, strangles someone with one of his bandages and seems to teleport, while other folk die in more mysterious ways.  A scene of a woman having her face cut by…something…is obviously supposed to echo a particularly strong scene in Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb, and I’ve just realised that both films share the same actor, a certain Aubrey Morris.  But look out for the scene where a guy has his oven catch fire, runs away from steam emitting out of it and seems to trip over everything in sight before sticking his head through a window, a scene so ineptly executed it just causes laughter, though generally the film takes itself too seriously for such a badly done movie.

The meagre gore is mostly off-screen and the Mummy is mostly relegated to close ups of its hands and mouth, just as well because it looks laughable.  The house where much of the action takes place is a good setting for a horror movie with all its antiques and nooks and crannies, but most of the Egyptian relics look like they were made in about half an hour.  The acting by the younger cast members is Neighbours wooden though Louis Gossett Jr, who despite being top billed doesn’t appear until half way through, overacts with relish, delivering lines like “there are forces here far greater than you would ever understand” like he totally realises what kind of film he’s in.  Unfortunately few others involved in this film seem to, especially the writer/director.  When we get to the climax and it seems to take forever yet hardly any suspense is being created, you have proof that The Legend Of The Mummy is a loser.  What a shame, because at the very least, this should have been fun.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Review of the sequel [yes, there was one!] coming soon….

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About Dr Lenera 1971 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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