Starring Roark Critchlow, Jessica Lancaster, Osman Soykut, Kimberly Pfeffer, Tim Murphy, Kathryn Adams, Dana Lastrilla, Stephanie Gentry, Robert Buckley, Darrow Igus, Christopher Bergschneider
Directed by Charles Band
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
With a runtime of only 70 minutes to tell its story — 59 if we take off the credit sequences — Petrified gets right down to business. The opening scene is a shady deal going down in what looks like a darkened corner of someone’s backyard. One party has a briefcase of cash, the other party has a MUMMY! Whoa! And I didn’t say shady for no reason, because as soon as the money has changed hands, guns come out and a man is down. He falls onto the mummy’s coffin, bleeding all over it. But unlike the deals for stolen mummies that I’ve brokered in my backyard, this one is in a movie so the blood brings the mummy to life… immediately! He bursts forth from his wooden box and stares deep into the eyes of those unfortunate to be near him. Like Medusa, the mummy’s gaze has a petrifying effect. With a high amount of hope and promise, the credits begin, but unfortunately that opening is easily the high point of the film.
The tagline for Petrified is “Hideous, Hungry, & On the Loose…” but I thought of some others that could fit just as well. “Petrified from Boredom!” is the low-hanging fruit, but I think “Petrified from Shock That There’s a Hospital for Nymphomaniacs Out in the Middle of the Woods” has more pizzazz. Maybe not front-of-the-DVD-box pizzazz, but pizzazz nonetheless. Anyway, Petrified‘s greatest flaw is that it’s just uninteresting as hell. I have to give them credit for throwing a lot of strange, disparate ideas together, but you’d think they’d amount to more than what we’re given. Which is a bunch of boring characters that have long, boring conversations and a few fun scenes where the mummy’s eyes glow red and he petrifies people. There are diminishing returns on that last one, though. It’s unfortunate because the FX for it look great!
The story is a little ridiculous to even call a story, as it really feels like they just pulled a few ideas out of a hat and wrote a script based on them. In a nutshell: an alien mummy is reawakened and an X-Files type of FBI agent manages to get away from him and seek refuge at a hospital for nymphomaniacs. The rest is basically random sex scenes and character interactions that don’t really matter. Basically, the FBI guy does his best to protect the patients, but the horny girls think that the moaning mummy is the hospital attendant that they fuck when the doctor isn’t looking. This does lead to a few funny situations, especially when it becomes clear that the mummy isn’t just moaning because he’s a mummy, he’s moaning because he’s a mummy and he’s horny.
Petrified does feature some impressive cinematography, though, thanks to Mac Ahlberg. He shot a ton of movies over his lengthy career, most notably a good amount of the classic films made by Charles Band’s earlier company, Empire International. Trancers, Ghoulies, Re-Animator, the list goes on. You might say that Ahlberg laid the groundwork for that iconic Full Moon look that so many of their films feature. His work here isn’t to that level, of course, but Petrified was shot on film and it does feature a lot of careful lighting to enhance the colors and bring out the best of the low-budget shoot. Ahlberg also shot Evil Bong for Band the same year as Petrified, before retiring from the business for good.
Well, I think I’m out of things to say about this one. It’s boring even thought its short, which is always a pretty big red flag. I only recommend it to Full Moon completists who are interested in seeing what a Full Moon version of a mummy movie would be like. The acting is better than you’d expect too, and the mummy mask looks fantastically gross and hideous. If Arnold saw this dude, he’d definitely call him an ugly motherfucker.
I’ll leave you with an interesting question posed by one of the characters. I generally don’t expect deep metaphysical questions from my low-budget alien mummy movies, but I gotta say, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. So word to anyone potentially making a film in the alien mummy genre: definitely include some deep metaphysics. Anyway, chew on this one a while:
“Is not God himself a sexual being?”
Since my Full Moon series is in something of a hiatus, I don’t want to promise what the next review will be, or when it will be. But originally I had planned to do something called Assault of the Killer Bimbos next, so set your expectations accordingly! There’s a good chance that a couple more Full Moon Redbox releases will be coming out before I can get to that one, though, which will then preempt that film. So whatever it ends up being, see ya then!