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Friday, April 27, 2012

Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (1999) Horror Mummy

Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (1999) - The best thing to say about this film is that the story had a beginning, middle and end. Ancient Evil is a low budget movie about a crazy worshiper of an Aztec God, Norman (Trent Latta), who wants to bring about the end of the world by sacrificing a virgin. Of course we don't know this early on but even after the first scene we know there is something not quite right about Norman. The film open with a few students, Norman, Don (Jeff Peterson) and Stacy (Ariauna Albright) standing around waiting for the scene to start with their teacher, Professor Cyphers (Brenda Blondell). When we get dialog it is long and pretty much explains how they are getting this Mummy ready for a show at this school's museum. How it is a special Mummy unlike all the Aztec finds because it exists, since they did not mummify remains and it is even stranger in that it was buried knife in hand. Professor Cyphers (really can't believe that it the name they went with) is translating the inscriptions found in the pyramid with the mummy. Poorly written by Matthew Jason Walsh it is basically a 'Here let me catch you up on things' scene that is awkward in execution. Walsh who also penned a couple reviewed films on this blog Witchouse and Witchouse 3:Demon Fire continues to work with director David DeCoteau to this day as they are finishing the project "1313 : Cougar Cult (2012)".
  We spend some time meeting the other bodies, uh I mean players in the film. Arlando (Russell Richardson) and Morris (Michael Lutz) talk about how Morris wants to get with Janine (Michele Nordin) but she won't give him the time of day. Lutz is painfully bad as the bad boy student looking to get laid and the dialog is equally poor. Morris steals a bracelet from the mummy for no reason other than to impress Janine, and we see Norman skulking around paying attention to the goings on. If there is on actor worse than Lutz it is Trent Latta. His over reacting emotions in every scene he is in makes Lutz look subtle. There is a dynamic set up with the bracelet that I think was suppose to make you think it is important but the idea is so simple and not fleshed out that it really doesn't end up mattering at all. After giving the bracelet to Janine and actually getting a date out of it. She being involved in this archaeology program knows what it is and scolds him for taking it. She says she will return it to the mummy before he gets in trouble. So starts the passing of the bracelet which goes to 3 or four other people and no one actually tries to put it back on the mummy even though that is each persons intent as they each tell you when they get the damned thing. It would probably have been better if it got passed a couple times without fanfare, maybe the audience would not be sitting knowing the bracelet was some super important thing, but would instead forget about it and it could then be used as a turn in the story.
  Anyway it is not long before Norman is standing over the body of the mummy and seeming to be praying. He wakes the monster from its slumber and now has control of it. When night falls there is the weirdest storm ever, constant lightning but no rain. Just flashes of light and thunder but that is about it. I originally thought that it was to add to the mummy waking, you know a mood thing. The lights go out, the students can't contact the outside world etc. Because the rain never came it all seemed so fake, and became annoying after a while. The mummy is up and its shuffling gets the attention of the Professor Cyphers as she works deciphering the text. Even though she is at her desk with a light on, when she hears a noise she walks around the museum with a flashlight and never turns on a light. Better yet is that there are candles lit all about the place. We know she is going to be the mummy's first kill but not before Norman comes in and tells her a long winded version of everything we don't know about him. He is a high priest of the Rain God and he is going to do a sacrifice to bring about the end of the world. The professor is not impressed and tells Norman he will be in trouble if he doesn't leave right now! Then she stand and watches the mummy enter the room, slowly he shambles up to her, and she does not move, then stabs her and she dies. She could easily have ran away but apparently was in too much shock.
  The rest of the film consists of the students deciding to party in the museum, that is how we get them in the area of the mummy. Then the script goes through many twists of logic to separate the students from each other so that the mummy can kill them off one by one without the others finding out before it is there turn. What's worse is the ridiculous writing that every time someone is alone they have to talk to themselves out loud to tell us what emotions they are having or to call out thinking the other students are there. So bad...
  Don and Stacy find the deciphered manuscript and learn about the sacrifice while the other characters are having their turn to die at the hands of the mummy. It is done away from those left so people are still in the dark. There is a running joke about no one believing that Stacy is a virgin and considering the actress is thirty at the time of the shoot I can see why. She and Don read the text and we all know what is going to happen at this point. So eventually Stacy is tied to the alter and the High Priest Norman is going to sacrifice her. Lucky for the world that Don is there. After being injured tussling with the mummy he realizes that crushing the bracelet might help. How does he know this you ask? He doesn't it is just Norman wants it back so he figures it must be important. When he crunches it under foot the control Norman has over the mummy is gone and it stabs him. Then Don stabs the mummy with its own knife which apparently is enough to kill it, then Stacy and Don are the winners and the movie ends.
  One more thing about mummies, they are as you know dried up bodies wrapped in cloth. When a film features a mummy it should appear to be dried up and wrapped in cloth. This film has the fattest mummy on record. Its damn thighs rubbed together and it had a beer belly. Really at least make an attempt at giving the audience a monster that looks like it should.
Rating (2.2) 5.0 and up are recommended, some just more recommended than others.

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