Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dawn of the Mummy (1981)

Do anyone remember the young British archaeologist who stood waiting for someone at the train station? He stood there until one in the staff knocked him on the shoulder and said "Excuse me Sir, but your mummy is waiting a the museum..."

This joke was told (more or less, my memory and knowledge of the English language is weak) by the great comedian Tommy Cooper. Another funny story is Dawn of the Mummy, Frank Agrama's almost-fantastic Mummy-Mayhem from 1981. A co-production between Egypt, Italy and the US - and to be honest, it feels more like a pure Italian movie shot in Egypt. Or in some back-lot in Cinecitta.

A bunch of idiots (aka photo models and the crew) travels to Egypt (after spending one minute of stock footage in New York) to take some cool photos from some upcoming fashion magazine. They travel out in the deserts, because they think that sounds more fun than to take some nice photos by the pyramids, and run into a couple of grave robbers (one with ridiculous blond hair) who just uncovered the tomb of the dreaded Safiraman. The heat from the camera crews lamps somehow makes Safiraman come to life again, and he brings his small army of desert zombies too!!!!

Dawn of the Mummy is a guilty pleasure (one of the many I have), and it gets better and better. Still, it's a damn stupid movie and with extremely stupid characters. The actors are chewing the scenery like they're in a Colin Nutley-movie and the cinematography is sometimes very murky and dark (the master used for the Anchor Bay-DVD is quite bad, so that could be the reasons, but I have on VHS too and the same problem is there). But Frank Agrama makes the movie entertaining and though there are long stretches when nothing special is happening, it never gets really boring. Just a bit slow.

But if you don't pretend that these negative aspects exists, there's some cool stuff to be happy about. First of all, Safiraman and his zombies are very cool, and very Italian (Maurizio Trani did the make-up effects). They are quite Fulci-esque, slimy and graphic. The scene when they rise from the desert with the sun in the background is beautiful, and of course they are a perfect combination with the fun (but not massive) gore that this movie delivers. I always forget that it's SO gory, but still, it's quite little compared to the movies it want to capitalize on. But there's a nice throat biting, an arm getting chewed on, a belly ripped open and stuff like that spread over the movie. And the infamous machete to head to of course. So it won't disappointed if you don't expect something like Zombie Flesh-Eaters or Dawn of the Dead.

I have a lot of movies I haven't seen yet, but when I'm sick and bored I don't liked to be surprised. I just need something safe, something that I know what it is. This is what Dawn of the Mummy gives me. And it ain't a bad thing after all.


Jocke Andersson said...

I totally agree with every thing you say, Dawn of the mummy is no classic, but it is devilishly entertaining... have you listened to the commentary? Very interesting if you are interested in the making of a low budget horror movie

dfordoom said...

Silly movies with lots of scenery-chewing are right up my alley! I'll have to look for this one.

Paul Cooke aka Buckaroobanzai said...

Frank Agrama is quite an amazing fellow as far as being in the Directors chair. He only directed a handful of movies but three of them actually stand out in different genres. Dawn Of The Mummy, which I actually love from the Eighties schlock gore school (mind you once I uncovered the Full Uncut version as opposed to the butcherd Eighty minute release first time around !!!) Queen Kong with soft porn comedic star Robin Askwith & Revenge Of The Godfather starring legendary 'B' movie Action star Richard Harrison (Now this is one I need to seek out). Otherwise Agrama is a producer, living in America living the Hollywood dream. Best of luck to him. I will always relate his name to Dawn Of The Mummy. Very Italian gore personified as you state Fred. A Big Fun chunk blower for sure.