Tale of the Mummy (1998)
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Discovering a long-lost Egyptian tomb, Samantha Turkel, (Louise Lombard) and her team, Bradley Cortese, (Sean Pertwee) Burke, (Gerald Butler) and Claire Mulrooney, (Lysette Anthony) bring the contents back to the British Museum. Putting it on display, a strange series of deaths around London being in Detective Riley, (Jason Scott Lee) from the US Embassy to help solve the case, as each victim was found to have a specific organ removed after death. Discovering that it is the work of Prince Talos, (Enzo) claimed to be one of the most ravenous men in Egyptian history, trying to collect the body parts required to resurrect himself, they race to stop him and put an end to his plans.
The Good News: this wasn't all that bad and had some good moments to it. One of the good things here is that the mummy is pretty interesting. Rather than being the slowly lumbering type, as this one can move about fairly quickly, it has two additional powers that are fun and really sets him apart. This one can fly about, which is a clever concept and visually impressive since it's something new. The other new factor is the ability to use it's bandages as tentacles, using them to ensnare it's victims and trap them like a cocoon. Even more impressive is the ability to unravel itself and reform using the tentacles to do that. It's a fun trick that looks impressive and is a real treat to watch. Another big plus is that there's a couple of rather well-done attacks in here, as the sequence at the police station is really nice, a pretty decent chase comes out of an encounter in the motel as the mummy really shows off some nice powers and there's a couple kills as well. Even the encounters in the subway and parking garage are really good and much better than expected. The best, though, is the film's opening, with there being a couple great things about it. The atmosphere is great, the setting is perfect and creepy with the usual business about a curse and the decorations used around the chamber. Once the curse is mentioned, it's all pretty fun watching the brutality emerge. Then, segueing into the recovery scenes of the later expedition being just as creepy is a big plus. The last positive here is the rather sizable body count. While there's only a few that are worthwhile, there's a lot that actually do get knocked off, and it does deliver the gore nicely on some of them. These here are what make the film somewhat entertaining and enjoyable.
The Bad News: This one didn't have a whole lot of problems going for it. The main one here is that there's a decided lack of gore to many of the kills. Despite the big body count, not a whole lot of the kills are all that graphic, mainly by design since it oddly uses the off-screen method for a lot of the kills or just dragged the victim away and leaving the sounds as the only clue that something is happening. There's a few of them which are done on-screen, which is enough to get them over but it really could've had much more in here by simply using it's kills a little better. The other area that this doesn't work is the rather odd and confusing ending. There's hardly anything about it that makes any sense, between the twist that doesn't seem logical or even makes sense, to the actions of the ceremony and the specific guidelines which are required, the whole thing is just confusing and doesn't really have anything all that logical about it. These here are what lower the film and keep it down.
The Final Verdict: Some good stuff in here and a couple of somewhat troubling flaws lower this one somewhat but not all that much. Give it a shot if you're into the genre or have an interest in the film, while those who aren't that big on the genre will probably find this one to be more problematic.
Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Brief Nudity
Tale of the Mummy is really decent and yet one of the most different of all mummy films.Christopher Lee has a short but very good part in the film.He actually shows a side of himself that is rarely seen on screen.Jason Scott Lee performed well and his relationship with Louise Lombard was good but it didn't go to the distance it could have because of the situation.Sean Pertwee put on a very act in the film.A very troubled but serious character.Shelley Duvall,Michael Lerner,007's Honor Blackman,Jon Polito,and Gerard Butler was in this as well!As for the movie itself it is very interesting from start to finish.The Mummy is very different and I like the way he changed into many forms in the film and when he came into formation at the end it is really scary.The music in the film is excellent.I really don't know what else to say.Tale of the Mummy is a good mummy movie that doesn't disappoint and if you have a chance check it out!
Admittedly, the storyline is not original at all (then again, this is a monster movie, and movies of this ilk generally have to follow a relatively rigid formula). An archaeologist, Sir Richard Turkel (Christopher Lee) has just discovered a mummy's tomb. Not heeding an ominous warning, he and his crew perish. Fifty years later, his grand daughter, Sam (Louise Lombard) follows in his footsteps, determined to find out what happened. Unwittingly, she and her associates unleash the spirit of an evil prince seeking to return to human form.
Like I said, the storyline isn't going to be associated with the word "original." But the details are different, which makes it less boring. In fact, it's actually moderately engaging.
When I put the DVD in the player, I was expecting a movie that I would regret watching, filled with bad acting and no plot coherency, and so on (I love Ancient Egypt, so I sort of had to see it). Actually, though, the acting is pretty good. Louise Lombard may have been a last minute casting replacement, but she's good in the role of Sam. She's comfortable in the role of the heroine, and makes a Sam in to a surprisingly believable character. Her co-star, Jason Scott Lee, isn't as successful. In fact, he's pretty bad. Riley is supposed to be the hard-boiled detective, but Lee is about as malleable as concrete. Fortunately, the actors with the smaller parts are better. Sean Pertwee is good as Sam's co-worker on the expedition, who after seeing visions when entering the tomb, is now on the edge of a nervous breakdown (you'll understand if you see the movie). Better known actors Michael Lerner, Shelly Duvall are solid as the modern day archaeologist and the fortune teller, respectively. Jack Davenport and Gerard Butler (who, sorry to his fans, is only on screen for about 5 minutes), are good as well. And Christopher Lee is good in the film's top-billed cameo.
However, the special effects are hideously bad. They are so bad that they make the graphics on my N64 look good. I realize that this was made eleven years ago, and I'm sure no one will disagree that special effects have improved by lightyears, but "The Matrix" was made only a year later. Still, the effects are so bad that they become unintentionally funny, and they turn the movie into a cheesily enjoyable experience. That being said, I have to admit, that there are a few mildly chilling moments in the film.
The only real problem that actually hurts the movie is that it's been edited down to its bare bones. The foreign versions have an additional 30 minutes, and that's obvious here. Many characters are undeveloped (one of the main characters had none at all), and some important plot points are missing, making the storyline (which, as I said, is somewhat interesting) borderline incoherent. And I never thought I'd say this, but for a movie that's rated R for "violence and gore," there's really no blood to speak of. A little more blood (and nudity, which was once a staple of these kinds of movies) could have given the movie a little more edge.
"Tale of the Mummy" surprised me. It's both entertaining because of its badness, and also because it's reasonably entertaining regardless. Do I recommend it? I liked it, although having a few beers in you before you start wouldn't hurt. It could be fun watch and laugh at the bad special effects (this could make a great drinking game), but it's also a decently made movie. It could be hard to find (I got it on Netflix), and although it's not for everyone (certainly if you're expecting something that's actually scary), it's worth a shot.
Things look cheesily promising in the opening scenes, of a tomb excavation in Egypt. This time around, Christopher Lee is one of the archaeologists (back in '59, he starred in the title role in THE MUMMY). After a gust of wind comes out of the tomb, the three men are turned into clay (I don't know why either) and die, with Lee managing to blow up the cave as he does so. The sight of Lee disintegrating on the ground brings back pleasant memories of Dracula, but sadly this is to be the film's finest moment. It all goes downhill from there.
Things return to London, where the bandages escape and begin to kill people, extracting various organs (liver, heart, eyes) from each of the victims - like we haven't seen that one before. So what we have as the main plot structure is a series of gruesome deaths and a look at the police investigation into them. A typical kind of plot, but it's kept alive through the interesting supporting cast and the brave - yet not exactly realistic - special effects work. However, things fall totally apart at the end of the movie, when Talos is reincarnated as a being that looks like an alien (but which is still pretty cool, I have to say) and people run around a dark and gloomy factory (déjà vu perhaps?). Sadly by this time I didn't have a clue as to what was going on, making this one of the most disjointed, confusing endings ever.
Imported American lead Jason Scott Lee (more at home as a bad guy in SOLDIER, I feel) seems stiff and unsuited to this type of film, especially in his growing romance with Louise Lombard. Lombard herself is fine as the gorgeous archaeologist, but you get the feeling that somehow she's better than all this and doesn't deserve to be in it. Sean Pertwee plays a skinhead psychopath who's into astrology, and his over-the-top performance would no doubt make his dad spin in the grave. Frankly, it's pretty embarrassing, especially when Pertwee tries to act scary.
Lysette Anthony has a nothing role as a doctor, who ends up getting possessed by the spirit at the end of the film - like we could care. Jack Davenport - a familiar face to British television fans - is an investigating copper, and his death comes as one of the film's few real surprises. Honor Blackman has a bit part as Lee's superior, while a surprisingly ageless Shelley Duvall is a mystic who helps the cops out. One more item of note to British readers : watch carefully and you'll be rewarded by the sight of Bill Treacher - Arthur from EASTENDERS - getting his neck snapped by the mummy.
At the end of this film, you can sort of see what they were aiming for with the plot, but all that is spoiled by dodgy editing and confusing narrative. It's like a good idea is hiding inside the film and struggling to get out. It's a shame that this movie is a failure, because there aren't a lot of UK-based movies around these days. Russell Mulcahy proves again that HIGHLANDER was a fluke. Still, even after all this, it would appear that we lucky Europeans are better off than the Americans, who had half an hour chopped out of this before the film was released over there! I hate to think what the finished movie looked like, especially when this full version is pretty confusing as it is.
The cast is impressive, as well. Not only do we have a brief but important turn by Christopher Lee, but there's also Lysette Anthony, Shelly Duvall, Sean Pertwee, Jason Scott Lee, and even Gerard Butler (though Mr. Butler's character meets his demise just a few minutes into the proceedings).
Though nothing really breaks with established mummy-movie formula at first, at least the first act of the film lays what appears to be a solid foundation for things to come. Sadly, in the second and third acts the film gets progressively worse and worse. The filmmakers try to play around with viewer expectations and then try to subvert the same with a number of unforeseen twists, but those twists are so far out of left field that they all fail, without exception. One of the problems is that for things to work out the way they do, certain characters simply cannot do and say some of the things that occur as the movie progresses. The big reveals that happen--and there are a lot of them--blatantly contradict plot points that have already been established within the dramatic progression. The ultimate revelations regarding the identify of the Mummy, his Princess, and his followers aren't merely unexpected, but thematically impossible given what has already happened. In short, the script is a cheat and in the end everything unravels like a badly embalmed corpse. Which, I suppose, is appropriate.
In other respects, the production is generally hit or miss. A few of the on screen murders are creatively handled, but others are painfully ridiculous. An example of the latter occurs in a men's bathroom stall, where the Mummy wraps its prey up in its fluttering folds and...jumps into the toilet with him, resulting in a fountain of blood as the victim is pulled bodily through the works. I don't remember if the poor guy screamed in his death throes or not, as it would have been drowned out by my own laughter anyway. I mean, death by toilet? That's sure not how Christopher Lee did it back in the day. Thankfully.
Special effects don't always work out, either. The Mummy eventually emerges as a rather pitiful unfinished humanoid which, for some reason, the other characters find so impressive they want to fall down on their knees and worship. The climactic action scenes are weak and unconvincing in the extreme, and the movie's only real strong point--interesting characters played by well-known performers--fails in the end because so many of the characters inexplicably become entirely different people and also because one of them happens to be an extremely annoying psychic who I dearly wish had gotten killed much earlier.
Ultimately, Tale of the Mummy is a tale of futility. The story falls apart the closer it gets to the finale and in the end nothing of value is left. Even worse, Evil triumphs...the heroine sacrifices herself for nothing and the hero turns out to be an avatar for the Mummy, who attains immortality and walks out into the world to do as he will with his rejuvenated powers. Perhaps there was supposed to be a sequel. If so, somebody must have severely overestimated this particular Mummy's powers of telepathic influence because to my knowledge no such follow-up ever appeared. Either way, it's a poor finish that is totally unsatisfying on any level whatsoever.
There have been a number of good films in the Mummy sub-genre, but this isn't even close to being one of them. Tale of the Mummy starts off well enough and has a good cast, but one poor storytelling decision after another, coupled with a poor FX budget, means the overall production is doomed to failure.
It started strong, then became average and ended poorly. Sadly it's usually the ending of the films you remember most.
I actually found this film to be much better than "The Mummy." While I immensely enjoyed the summer movie, I feel that it was more of an action/adventure than horror. This movie goes back to its roots: pure horror, and that's what really makes it work.
Set in London, the film follows an American detective and an assortment of other characters as they battle Talos, a banished Egyptian sorcerer who whose body was never found in the days of Pharaohs. His wrappings must collect body parts and the heart of his reincarnated love in order to create it's body and begin the Armageddon. He has to do it before the first five planets all align, and it's a desperate race to stop him before he can.
First of all, how can anyone say the special effects in this film is disappointing? They are absolutely incredible.... The wrappings come to life and attack people, shaping into humam form sometimes and other times crawling on the ceiling like an overgrown spider. They are some of the finest special effects I think I've ever seen in a horror thriller. How in the world can someone say that these fx are bad? They are absolutely real and astounding....much more real than in the Brandon Fraser flick. And, unlike the former film, this one doesn't use them to show them off, but they actually fit into the story and are not overused.
The storyline is great, too.... It manages to keep it down packed so it is easy to understand, and at the same time, it is very complex and it has many different angles to it. The ending is also a fine twist that nicely wraps the film up (no pun intended). Well anyway, I shuddered, and that doesn't happen much.
The cast and direction are also high-grade. Jason Scott Lee is good as the detective Riley, who's not sure whether or not to believe in Talos. Sean Pertwee is also fantastic as the odd cult-member who walks the thin line between paranoid and psychotic. I'm thinking Best Supporting Actor nomination for him. For the direction, while Fraser's "The Mummy" relied on heavy stunts and over-the-top action stunts, Russell Mulcahy focuses more on the dark style, so it is a slow-moving, moody thriller with slick timing. He winged this one much like he did "The Shadow," another greatly underrated film. Someone better keep their eyes on this guy....he's likely to hit something big one day and get a lot of recognition. But anyway, that's my prediction.
All in all, see "Tale of the Mummy." It is superb and much better then the Brandon Fraser film. And even if you might disagree....it's certainly worth spending 88 minutes of your life watching it.
***1/2 out of ****
All the actors in the flim were good i liked them all in a way. The movie was good in a sense it could have been better if the mummy had been an alien or something. But it is a classic mummy movie and like any other mummy movie. Mummy movie fans would love this movie.
The film starts with an Egyptian dig (how else) where the likes of Christopher Lee are excavating the mysterious burial place of Talos, the cursed Greek who came to Egypt and learned forbidden magic. Then Lee dies. Several years later, his niece comes to check the dig out, accompanied by the likes of Gerard Butler and Sean Pertwee. Butler dies immediately and Pertwee continues to appear randomly as a slightly insane person. This is annoying if you started to watch the movie because of the cast, but I didn't so it didn't bother me.
Present time, stuff happens and two detectives, played by none others than Jason Scott Lee and Jack Davenport, need to investigate. Add to this the two British hotties Louise Lombard and Lysette Anthony and the movie is interesting on that alone.
The film lasts for almost two hours, which is a bit too long for the level of tension that the movie manages to maintain, but in no way is it a bad story. While the reasoning of the Talos mummy are not revealed until the end and seem stupid, they become believable at the end with the extra information.
Bottom line: a TV movie that appeared a year before The Mummy. If you take the special effects (which were not bad, but certainly were cheap in Talos) out of the equation, the only possible reason why The Mummy would be better is Arnold Vosloo and a slightly more fleshed out (pardon the pun) character for the mummy. While not really a horror film, it is a good paranormal thriller, even with the silly twist at the end.
The most remarkable thing to me is that this film is called "Talos the Mummy", yet both IMDb and Wikipedia use a different title. It is as if there is a conspiracy to rewrite history so that this film never existed. Sublime.
The movie does start out in an adequate pace, and does establish some characters pretty early on, which was good for the movie.
"Tale of the Mummy" has an adequate storyline, although parts of it seemed a bit forced. The storyline is simplistic and very easy to follow, making it feel like writers Keith Williams, John Esposito, Russell Mulcahy and writer/director Russell Mulcahy were followed a generic blueprint of 'how-to-make-a-mummy-movie'.
I must admit that I was more than genuinely impressed with the ensemble of cast that had been hired for this movie, because there are some rather good names on the cast list here. It was a nice surprise to see the likes of Christopher Lee, Gerard Butler, Lysette Anthony, Sean Pertwee, Shelley Duvall, Jon Polito, Jason Scott Lee and Michael Lerner in a movie such as this.
The effects in "Tale of the Mummy" were quite good and actually do, to some extend, still hold their ground even today. So thumbs up for the special effects team that worked on the movie.
It was kind of funny how adept the awakened mummy was at speaking English and speaking it flawlessly.
The movie does let off some of its momentum once it makes it past the halfway marker. Which is a bit of a shame. The movie in whole doesn't really stand out and is not a particularly memorable addition to the mummy movie genre.
And the ending of the movie? Wow, seriously? That had to be one of the most ridiculous endings in the history of mummy movies. It was so phenomenally bad that it has to be seen to believe.
Having had his organs intentionally removed, his victims are therefore stalked by malevolent wrappings as he pursues rebirth, wrappings that take on a stronger physical form each time we witness them.
There's a wealth of familiar UK faces here. Lysette Anthony, Honor Blackman, Louise Lombard – mostly in underwritten parts. There's a cameo from actors Bill Treacher and Elizabeth Power. A few years earlier, they played characters in UK soap EastEnders who had an affair that scored very high ratings. It's difficult to imagine their brief inclusion in this film as (presumably) husband and wife is not unrelated to that notoriety. Edward Tudor-Pole, lead singer with the band Tenpole Tudor, also appears as a blind man.
The CGI Talos towards the end disappoints, but his almost spiritual influence throughout the film is impressive, particularly when it concerns Brad (Sean Pertwee) who is subject to a kind of exorcism to expel the creature. The ending further jumbles the narrative, with seemingly half the cast taking it in turns to be host to the spirit of the mummy. A flawed, frustrating ending to an enjoyable but confusing film.
Jason Scott Lee plays an American detective over in London where the mummy has gotten loose and he's trying to resurrect himself. Back when he was a living human being he was a Greek exile in the Pharoah's court who dabbled in black arts. He got killed and cursed at the same time and archaeologist Sean Pertwee's got a psychic pipeline to him.
What should be suspenseful gets downright laughable. Tale Of The Mummy has some elements of the classic Boris Karloff film, The Mummy, but it ain't a patch on the original.