Welcome back to B-Movie Enema, you sexy bastards!
You know what else is sexy? Endless, timeless, and reincarnated love. Yeah, I’m getting mushy with you assholes this week. AND I’m doing it real aggressive like by calling you bastards and assholes. Don’t forget I also called you sexy, so… Don’t forget that.
ANYway… This week, we’ve got another Edgar Allen Poe adaptation. This was based on the 1845 satirical short story “Some Words with a Mummy”. Last month, I looked at Lucio Fulci’s take on The Black Cat. This month, I’m gonna look at a movie about a resurrected mummy – that stars, for some reason, Tony Curtis as an Egyptian fella. Eek?
With that said, this week, I’m looking at The Mummy Lives from 1993. This was directed by Gerry O’Hara. O’Hara was a second unit and assistant director for years and worked on some really big deal movies like Cleopatra and Tom Jones. Later, he was his own director, and did a movie called The Bitch starring Joan Collins and written by her sister Jackie Collins. I have no idea about what that movie’s all about the poster has Joan Collins in sexy lingerie and the title is THE BITCH. How can you top that?
The Mummy Lives has one big deal distinction, though… This is one of those movies that is part of the Cannon Films library that came after the split between Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan. Golan was over at 21st Century Film Corporation. Globus was still running the Cannon Group but with Christopher Pearce at the time. For the most part, Cannon, and 21st Century for that matter, had scaled way down on their budgets. Gone were the days of the Go Go Boys of 40 films a year and $1 billion company worth. These were the days of cheap sequels like Delta Force 2 and Death Wish 4 and 5.
This was the age of The Mummy Lives.
I’m not so sure what to say about that. In fact, I don’t quite know why I sought out this movie. Maybe because I don’t write about mummies all that much. In fact, I’m having a hard time coming up with a movie off the top of the head on this blog that WAS about mummies. I can tell you it had nothing to do with The Black Cat or Edgar Allen Poe because I thought this was the Bram Stoker 90s mummy movie. I only found out this was based on a Poe story, like, yesterday. So this is one of those comin’ in cold situations. Sometimes that works out. Sometimes it is a terrible mistake. One that will make me ponder what choices I’ve made in life.
I can’t wait to find out which one!
Okie dokie, the movie opens… where else for a movie about ancient Egyptians and mummies? In space, that’s where! As the credits play out, the British setting for a Starfleet ship’s computer tells us about a prophecy about some dude or dudette returning from the beyond to be reunited with their eternal love. We also get a starting lineup of the constellations that make up the zodiac. I… I don’t think those are Egyptian?
In fact, I looked that shit up. I know I’m an Aquarius but I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout nuthin’ when it comes to ruling planets, what’s in retrograde, etc. I didn’t even know about the origins of cosmology. So, gather ’round, kiddos. It’s time to learn about it!
The earliest use of the zodiac was in Babylon. It then made its way into Hebrew practice, before shifting to the zodiac we know best – that of the Greeks and Romans. Yes, there are various zodiacs throughout the world, various religions, and eras, but I saw nothing about an Egyptian use for that. Now, I’m maybe jumping the gun here bitching about this, but here’s the problem: I signed up for a mummy movie about Egyptian spirits being reincarnated. I’m getting stuff right out of the gate related to a different society and belief system. Not a great way to start your movie.
So what does all this talk of the zodiac lead to? Fuckin’ Egypt, yo.
I’m not so sure how good of an idea it is to go four and a half minutes in your opening credits for a movie about Egyptians and mummies before you see a goddamn pyramid. Anyway, in the present, we meet Sandra (Leslie Hardy). She was engaged to be married, but after her parents died, she realized that what she was headed for wasn’t so good. She started traveling around the world with her inheritance. She got to Paris and, suddenly, she was overcome with the desire to go to Egypt.
She reads in a paper about a media millionaire who is funding a dig. We meet this man, a cantankerous old jerkass who is planning to meet with those working on the dig he funds. While he’s there, something is found in the dig that excites everyone – a stairway to a tomb. This millionaire, Maxton, is quite excited for what they found. There appears to be a chamber they can get to as they chisel their way through this inner wall in the tomb. Unfortunately, Maxton is stopped by some officials from the Egyptian government.
Meanwhile, Sandra is tossing and turning in bed. We hear voices talking about some deity named Xoth. We go into the dream and I find what it is I was looking for in this movie:
That’s right! Tony Curtis in sand…face? Sandface? Yeah, I think that makes sense. Just look at him. Everything in my movie-watchin’ sensibilities is screaming at me in a chorus that sounds something like an army of bagpipers. He’s wearing black. He’s got a cobra on his hand thingy there. If this was a woman like, say, Cleopatra, you’d know that the snake stuff wouldn’t really signal “evil!” to me. He’s got a bit of a scowl on his face. You can see by the way he’s paying reverence to the god Xoth that this son of a bitch has something up his robe.
He does have some dancing bitches, so I assume he’s got something going for him.
There is one of these dancers that grabs ol’ Whitey Aziru (Curtis) here… And that’s a woman by the name of Kia. She’s not a decently reliable, affordable Korean car. She’s a looker. She also looks a little bit like Sandra. She’s got some real nice eyes, fair skin, and that impeccable dreadlock thing Egyptian women are often seen wearing.
Her dancing gets a little more stirring under Tony Curtis’ robes besides whatever he’s cooking up when he side-eyed that fuckin’ scary dog man statue of Xoth.
Meanwhile, Maxton and some others sneak into the tomb dug up recently to survey his investment. While they are in the tomb, they discover a logo for Xoth and it is stated that Xoth had many concubines (aka dancing bitches) and was known to be a vengeful god. Without knowing much more, I’m guessing that Aziru was a high priest of Xoth or some such shit, and Kia originally got a job as a concubine but later ended up becoming Aziru’s regular Saturday night thing.
Turns out I’m pretty much right about Aziru being the high priest for Xoth. He’s buried in one of the chambers and there’s all sorts of warnings and stuff about not intruding or breaking any seals or anything, but these stupid assholes naturally bust through. They discover that Aziru was mummified without having his innards removed. He carries a curse. Why is that?
As it turns out, while I was right about Aziru being a priest for Xoth, but I was wrong about the dancing bitches and concubines. They are not HIS. They belong to Xoth. Think of it like this… Aziru would be a priest or something right? Well, the girls are more like nuns, and definitely not to be touched by anyone other than their god. You know what’s also SUPER off limits? This:
When Kia goes to Aziru’s little tent house, she’s seen by a couple dog mask Church of Xoth (or better known as CoX – a couple altar boys praying at CoX). They know Aziru isn’t to be messing about with the dancing bitches. They also report back to Xoth that Kia, for as pure and pretty and sexy as she is, she’s 100% wearing white Keds in this scene. That’s a big no-no considering they must be some sort of evil magic because those things weren’t invented for another 3800 years.
I AM NOT SHITTING YOU ABOUT THIS. In the wide shot of Kia sneaking off to Aziru’s tent, you can CLEARLY see she is not wearing sandals like an Egyptian, or barefoot as she was earlier with the dancing bitches, she is wearing Keds. Keds, I might add, that were seen next to the bed that actress Leslie Hardy is writhing around on when she has this dream.
These are not things that I point out to pick on a cheap b-movie/straight to video stores type of movie. I actually find this sort of thing charming. Obviously, the people making the movie didn’t expect an eagle eyed online blogger to be able to spot this nearly 30 years later. They didn’t even think about that this was a wide shot and Leslie Hardy is not only wearing a paneled skirt that would easily show her legs and feet on the side, but she also was holding the front panel of her skirt as she traipsed through the path to Aziru’s bachelor pad. It’s likely they had no sandals for her. It’s likely where she was to walk was not great for bare feet. It’s just a thing that happens, but it only helps going deeper into the pool of this being exactly the type of movie this is.
Sorry… Didn’t mean to turn this into B-Movie Wikifeet there. Let’s catch up on a couple things. First, in the present, in the tomb, Maxton is pushing for more and more disturbance of the tomb and the mummified Aziru. They even begin cutting open the bandages despite warnings from one of the guys there who is clearly in the know of what the fuck happens when you act a fool inside an Egyptian tomb. In the dream, those dog headed dudes above spy on Aziru and Kia. The star-crossed lovers have wine, Aziru draws a picture of Kia, and they share a kiss. Aziru and Kia know they are probably doing bad things, but, to be completely honest, they seem like they are pretty happy with this May-December romance they have going on here.
Dog head dudes? They ain’t into this sweetness shit. They call in a bunch of armed guards to break up the love-in.
What’s more, the guys in the tomb discover that Aziru was buried alive. Something about the bandages being put around him squished him like a boa constrictor. There’s also a guard sneaking about listening in and seemingly there to spring a surprise on them and arrest them, but that’s actually not what happens here with this guy. Maxton hears something and another guy says it was just the wind, but that squirmy guy who was totally not into opening all these clearly marked no-no zones says they are being visited upon by the gods.
Sure enough, there’s judgment to be passed in 1900 BC. We see Aziru get convicted of messing with Xoth’s dancing bitches. He’s sentenced to living death and will never be allowed to pass over into the afterlife. Just to make sure it’s understood the bad shit they’ve done, Kia is forced to watch him get mummified.
I might add, I’m only, like, 30 minutes into this movie. This is structured quite peculiarly. I don’t know if I hate how this is playing or if I think it is mildly brilliant. What I mean is that there are three different things going on here and they are all somewhat intertwined. You have the guys who are uncovering the tomb. They are seeing the effects of what was done 3800 years ago. You have Sandra who was drawn to Egypt when she was traveling the world. However, we’ve seen her do EXACTLY two things – get a cab and get a nightmare. Her nightmare intertwines with what the guys in the tomb are reading in inscriptions and based on the way Aziru’s body was mummified. Like a flushed toilet, we’re circling around a central singularity which was the story of Aziru and Kia being star-crossed lovers.
This is fairly standard shit for a mummy movie, right? Guy angers the gods because he messed with the wrong Egyptian babe. He gets cursed. He gets released. Man continues his pursuit of his lost lady love who is now in a new body. We typically don’t get too much of the background, but this entire first act is the backstory that we usually only see a few minutes of in each of the three parallel stories happening in the movie. It’s a different way to present the oft-used material, but is it any good? I… I can’t say for sure. It feels like this movie could almost be entirely told from the is dream, but I think that would kinda suck. I want to see this movie wake up (I think it is coming soon thanks to a greedy dick stealing Aziru’s trinkets), and I want him shambling after victims. We don’t normally have to wait this long to get these things – or other equally creepy things.
This movie isn’t the 1999 version of The Mummy. That movie could play a long game before Arnold Vosloo appears as Imhotep. Why? It was incredibly fun and mixed the Indiana Jones style of adventure into the monster movie. This is not a successfully fun adventure. This is just some guys in a tomb. A girl writhing in bed. A dream about a lost love. I need this to pick up and in a hurry.
Maybe I’m about to get my wish. Sandra is awake and the stolen trinkets has also awoken the mummy who kills the guard when he goes to check out what’s left over for him to swipe. While Sandra talks in voice over about how the pyramids really appeals to her, we get some stock footage of Cairo. Sandra goes to the museum of archeology to look at some old bones and pieces of buildings and art that had been gathered up.
Meanwhile, The Mummy Lives ain’t just a title, but a reality in the movie as Aziru starts walking around his tomb and prepares to go out into the world again. However, it’s not the only bit of excitement. In the museum, Sandra sees a specific type of onyx or opal ring that is on the hand of a mummified body in a case. This causes her to flash back to her dream when Aziru told her to take a ring of his before he was carried off to be mummified alive. She starts having a bit of a freak out that includes smashing the glass of the exhibit and taking the hand with the ring. She stumbles around confused and a little out of it. She eventually passes out in the arms of the curator.
Meanwhile, the mummy in this movie looks REALLY cool. I will give bonus points to that. In the tomb, the mummy of Aziru is moving about and has gotten himself dressed in his usual black robes. He picks up a snake and they don’t hold back on showing us the mummy goodness.
Just look at this gross ass guy:
Say what you will about this movie’s budget or quality, they went for it with the Aziru mummy. I don’t know if this is smart or a major disappointment, but Aziru prays to Xoth to be returned to flesh and blood. He’s then turned back into Tony Curtis and I’m disappointed. I’m also left with a couple questions too. Wasn’t Kia meant to be for Xoth? Then, Aziru was messing around with Kia, right? Wasn’t the judgment passed on him about Xoth’s goods being tampered with and therefore he committed some sort of terrible slight against a god? Why would Xoth revert him to human?
Ah fuck it.
Sandra isn’t going to be in trouble for smashing the case. Besides, she can’t really account for what she was doing or what happened. It seems, thanks to her passing out, that she really did black out. She’s treated by a doctor from the World Health Organization. He’s a hunky slab of beef named Dr. Carey Williams. He wants her to call him if ANYthing troubles her if you know what I mean.
Back at the tomb, Maxton is bringing in people from the museum. When they discover an unrecognizable statue, it moves on its own and through an orange, glowing room, Tony Curtis comes out and introduces himself as Dr. Mohassid. The room he came from carries a warning that anyone who enters the room will die. The idiots there decide they want to go in anyway. They find the one security dude that Aziru killed when he first woke up.
It is very important to state, that despite, like 4 or 5 people hearing Tony Curtis say he is some guy who will be the keeper of this tomb of death, or whatever he says, he is also STASHING A DEAD BODY IN THERE. Do any of the people who see the body say anything about this old guy with the body stashed in his cool orange glow room? Nope. Do they ever bring it up ever again? That’s also a negatory, good buddy.
Kia is back to having dreams. This time, she thinks she is being attacked by a gross mummy who wants to wrap her up like one too. It’s a good thing she’s got that hunky doctor’s card so she can call him. She apparently is going to call him to get help with the problems with sleeping and all the weirdness going on since she arrived in Egypt. Like a stone cold beefcake Doc Carey is, he takes her horseback riding.
You know, for a change of scenery. Like, for therapy and shit? They go horseback riding. They go to dinner. She gets offended when he asks her questions about her nightmares. But didn’t she call him because she was having problems? Didn’t she just say earlier on the horseback ride that this was to be strictly professional?
Tony Curtis goes to meet with an Egyptologist that was part of the team working on that tomb. He’s real curious how he got into that one room that had all that bitchin’ orange light in it – but not the dead guy within. All Tony Curtis says is that he’s the protector of the dead. That’s not much of an explanation. After this Egyptologist goes to check on his bird that is getting attacked, and eaten, by a snake, Tony Curtis disappears.
You may be asking, why I’m now referring to Aziru/Mohassid simply as Tony Curtis. Well, it’s because Curtis has a very pronounced accent from New York. He has this thick east coast way of speech mixed with his Hungarian-Jewish descent, it stands out. It makes for a very peculiar way for a supposed Egyptian to speak. It’s impossible to see him as this man from the ancient times brought forward into the modern day. It’s not like Boris Karloff in the 1932 The Mummy. We believe him to be a regenerated Egyptian who once lived in ancient times. I think Tony Curtis is about to tell me where you can get the best sandwiches from the finest neighborhood delis in Manhattan.
Look, I don’t want to be a dick to a great comedic and dramatic actor. What I’m about to say will seem to be cynical, but I feel like having Tony Curtis in his movie is just a cynical way to sell the movie. There was no desire to remove his typical accent or his speech pattern. Maybe he didn’t care enough to do that himself because this was just a paycheck for an aging great. I dunno. What I do know is this is incredibly off putting because it seems as though his accent is growing more and more New York-ish in each subsequent scene he appears.
Okay, let’s get back to the play-by-play here. Sheesh. First, it is a diatribe about anachronistic comfy canvas shoes worn by our leading lady. Now, it’s Tony Curtis and his accent. What’s next?
Things are getting weirder and weirder for Sandra. She seems to have another dream where she goes to the museum and breaks another case, but, when Carey and Tony Curtis takes her back inside, nothing is out of place. However, soon, they disappear and two dog mask guys stuff her into a sarcophagus. Carey talks more to Sandra about what’s happening to her. He says what she’s experiencing is a borderline psychosis based around the loss of a central figure in her life, her father. Since her dreams often end with her being suffocated in some way, Carey pins these experiences on guilt.
However, she finds this diagnosis to be utter crap. She is seemingly growing more and more irritated with Carey trying to sort out her problems. But, again, she called him after a nightmare. I have to assume this is basically what she was asking him for when she called him in the middle of the night. I guess she might have just wanted that dick, but what do I know? I’m just watching this movie and puzzling out its purpose and meaning.
In the tomb, an archeologist is killed by an “accident”, but it was really Tony Curtis playing out the curse as the archeologist was disturbing the tomb and the sarcophagi in them. Later, at a party put on by Maxton, Carey and Sandra see him getting into an argument with Maxton and telling the millionaire to beat sand and get the fuck out of Egypt and stop digging up his tombs. That night, Tony Curtis tells Xoth in his prayers that he will be reunited with Kia and that those who robbed their graves will be killed.
Because it is nighttime, Sandra has yet another nightmare. This time, she seemingly goes to Tony Curtis’ house where he will let her sleep in his bed where his mummified self snuggles up with her. Her dreams are starting to feel more and more real. The next day, to apologize for his behavior at his party, Tony Curtis gives Maxton a cat. This cat scratches his face and gives him a plague. At the hospital, Tony Curtis kills Maxton… which I think he could have done without the plague cat.
Carey plans to leave Luxor for Cairo, but Sandra refuses to leave. She’s inexplicably drawn to Tony Curtis. Carey is concerned that he will not solve what is giving her these nightmares. In fact, Carey is worried he will give her more. Carey is REALLY scared of missing out on her sexy blonde business. (Or so I can assume.)
Admittedly, things seem a little fuzzy in this movie. There’s this thing called “The Night of the Embrace” that Tony Curtis talks about a few times. It’s this astrological event that deals with retrograde and whatever. Well, within a legend about Aziru and Kia, it is said that she will return to him during this Night of the Embrace. However, Tony Curtis wants to deliver Sandra to Xoth. Between killing those who robbed the tomb, and the whole giving Kia back to Xoth, he hopes to be back in the good graces of the god he once betrayed. It’s a whole thing.
There’s something else going on here as we near the Night of the Embrace – Tony Curtis is decomposing again. We can see there’s this hand situation he’s got. It was first seen when he killed Maxton. Then, we see him wearing gloves. Now, it is worse as he starts the process to embalm and mummify the last of the “grave robbers”. This is maybe my very favorite of scenes. There’s a personality to this scene when he’s showing this guy all the tools he has to do the embalming. It’s great. It’s almost played as a comedic scene but also fairly gruesome as he discusses how each tool works in messing up the brain and pulling out all the bits and pieces.
All the while, Carey is rushing back to Luxor when he realizes everything’s all connected. Also, maybe that Tony Curtis guy is that Aziru dude too? Speaking of, Tony Curtis calls for Sandra to come to him late at night making her think that he’s sick and needs help. He just says that shit was a misunderstanding and that he’d like to have a date with her despite it being super late. He gives her some wine which knocks her out. He then gets he ready for his god.
Time is running short. Tony Curtis is rotting away so he has to hurry to get Kia to Xoth. Carey arrives in Luxor and finds out that a limo picked up Sandra and… And, well, I don’t know what. He has to know she’s with Tony Curtis. He should just be asking how to get to the dig site or to his place or something. This is going to prove even more difficult for our hunky doofus. When Tony Curtis goes back into the tomb, he pulls this lever and it causes the place to cave in. He presents Kia to Xoth and he’s commanded to prepare her. While the fuzz and Carey arrive at the tomb, Tony Curtis gets ready to pull Sandra’s brains out through her nose.
Quite by accident, Carey and the copper find a secret passage that leads them to Sandra, Tony Curtis, and all the weirdness going on with this Xoth character. But here’s the funny ass thing… They don’t actually get to her in time. Instead, she’s able to fight back for herself and she splashes acid or oil or something onto Tony Curtis and he lights on fire. All they do is help her escape the tomb. She basically did most of the work to do away with Tony Curtis.
The end of the movie is real dumb. Often, there would be transitional insert shots of the stars in the sky. It helped in the credits to point out the zodiac that was never heard from again, and it was mostly used as a way to help explain what’s happening in the movie. What I mean by that is that we’d see the stars and hear Tony Curtis praying to Xoth. I really honestly believe it was added later because why not have him actually praying in front of the statue of Xoth as we do in one scene of this movie? Anyway, we return to the stars to see something that looks like nothing we’ve seen prior to this moment in this movie.
Yup, that’s an anguished Halloween costume style mummy squirming in agony as Xoth is rebuked and Sandra has her freedom from these prophetic shenanigans. We see the great embrace happen with a couple cartoon stars and credits.
Golly this movie is a bit of a mess, ain’t it? Again, I don’t wanna be cynical, but it feels like Tony Curtis is here for a paycheck and the producers and everyone mostly wanted a name to sell the movie on. Did Curtis do his job? Absolutely. He was professional, but, as I said, his accent is very odd in this setting and in combination of what his character is supposed to be. Yes, this is a Cannon Group release. So, yeah, there’s a bit of cheapness (as Frank Zappa would say), but there’s almost a late 90s Full Moon feel to it.
Our leads (not including Curtis) of Leslie Hardy and Greg Wrangler are kind of uninteresting. They seemingly are just reading their lines. Hardy is pretty and maybe has something to her, but she doesn’t feel like she’s given much to work with in either the script or the direction. Wrangler is kind of “generic 90s hunk”. It should be no surprise that he did a lot of soap operas after this. What’s really fascinating as a coincidence is that neither Hardy nor Wrangler have been in anything since 2013.
Of course, Tony Curtis is a different story. He was a superstar for most of his career, even when he was just collecting paychecks on something like this. He was nominated for an Oscar back in the 50s, faded a bit from the limelight, but returned with a vengeance after playing the Boston Strangler in a dramatic role after spending a long time in comedies. He passed away in 2010, but worked semi-regularly for 15 years after this movie.
There’s not much more I can say about this movie that I haven’t already said except for one thing – the movie had an interesting way to play with typical reincarnation thing by setting it up as I mentioned earlier, but it felt too long and it was very wordy and poorly paced. It would have been better for me to keep this unearthed down in the depths with Xoth and his tomb of horrors.
…and his sexy dancing bitches.
Next week, we go to the post-apocalyptic near future for an adventure comedy starring a woman who had her chance to star in a couple decent hits from both a mainstream and a cult classic angle. I’m watching 1985’s She!
In just 3 weeks, B-Movie Enema: The Series will kick off Season Two of everyone’s favorite way to spend a Saturday night. If you want to know where to find those episodes and where you can also see all the clips to movies I’ve covered like I did in this article above? Then subscribe to the B-Movie Enema YouTube Channel today! Another swell idea would be following B-Movie Enema on Facebook and Twitter. That’s a great way to be kept up to date with new articles and episodes as they happen!
See you all back here in just seven short days for some post-apocalyptic fan. Until then, be cool with each other, my lovely Enemaniacs!
3 thoughts on “The Mummy Lives (1993)”
Ah, the legendary Tony Curtis accent.
“Yonduh lies da pyramid uh my fadduh.”
Also, did Greg Wrangler wear jeans in any of his scenes?
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I’m fairly sure he does quite a bit!
Also, can’t help but note that of course this horror comes from the source of all evil, ANCIENT EGYPT!
(cue Imperial March)
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