Petrified (2006)

petrified_1Starring 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

Expectations: Low.

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!

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Ancient Evil 2: Guardian of the Underworld (2005)

Ancient Evil 2: Guardian of the Underworld (2005)
AKA Anubis: Guardian of the Underworld, Anubis: Rising

Starring Victoria Campbell, Adam Lipskey, Don Sandeen, Noel Francomano, Christopher Kann, Alex Whall

Directed by D.W. Kann

Expectations: Super low… looks so bad.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

I don’t know where to begin, or even what to write about this movie. It’s not that I’m so checked out on it that I can’t bear to think about it; it was actually OK. It’s also not that nothing worth writing about happened, because there were definitely B-Movie moments galore. I just can’t drum up the motivation necessary to pull these thoughts together into a cohesive review. The film wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I expected, nor was it especially good. Instead it fell squarely into that dreaded middle region of indifference, and when the movie in question is so obscure that no one you know will have even heard of it (or care to hear of it), it’s hard to make even myself care enough to write this damn thing. But I will soldier on and do my best.

Despite that big “Ancient Evil 2” on the headline, this is not actually a sequel to the David DeCoteau film I reviewed last week. Had it been, I’d be far more interested in it! Anyway, it is one of those lovely “sequels in name only” and the level of quality here has sunk from low-budget to the no-budget realm of shot-on-video, amateur horror. Surprisingly, this is never an issue as the filmmaking is actually of a high-enough quality that you’re focusing more on the actors and the story than how it always feels like you’re watching someone’s painful home videos.

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Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (1999)

Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (1999)
AKA Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy 2

Starring Jeff Peterson, Trent Latta, Ariauna Albright, Russell Richardson, Michele Nordin, Brenda Blondell, Michael Lutz, Christopher Cullen, Anton Falk

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low, but hopeful it’s at least better than Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy. Seeing how that was the worst movie ever, I think that’s a fair expectation.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

When a movie is so infuriatingly bad like Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy was, a normal person wouldn’t seek out the film that in some territories is billed as a sequel. This type of marketing bait and switch is an odd one in this case, because it implies that somewhere out there in the UK (where this film is known as a sequel), Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy did enough business that billing a completely unrelated — and much better — movie as a sequel was seen as a good thing! It boggles the mind, but thankfully that’s where the bogglin’ ends as Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy is a whole hell of a lot better than Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy. It also has nothing to do with Bram Stoker’s Jewel of Seven Stars, so the naming is even more misleading for those few actually hoping for a sequel.

This mummy is of Aztec origin, and it’s the subject of a college class dig or something during the summer break. As you’d expect in a horror movie about college kids all living together in a house for the summer, a total horn dog dooms the entire group by stealing the mummy’s jeweled bracelet to impress a girl he’s been lusting for all season long. At least that’s what appears to be going on, until the scorned nerd reveals himself as the last in a long line of Aztec high priests! He resurrects the mummy for some purpose I don’t remember and the killing begins!

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Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy (1998)

AKA Legend of the Mummy, Bram Stoker’s The Mummy

Starring Louis Gossett Jr., Amy Locane, Eric Lutes, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Lloyd Bochner, Mary Jo Catlett, Aubrey Morris, Laura Otis, Julian Stone, Richard Karn

Directed by Jeffrey Obrow

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

I love Egyptian themes and stories. I love mummies. I love Bram Stoker’s more popular work, Dracula. And regular visitors know that I also love B-movies. But this, this abomination of a movie, I do not love. I can barely stomach the thought required to write about the movie. It’s bad. I watch a lot of bad movies, and this is truly awful. This is one of the worst movies I’ve seen while operating Silver Emulsion. Perhaps its production values and its acting weren’t especially horrid, but the storytelling is so inept and boring that no amount of Oscar-winner Louis Gossett Jr. and Home Improvement‘s Richard Karn could save it.

The film is based on a lesser known work of Stoker’s, The Jewel of Seven Stars. I haven’t read the novel, so I’m unsure if Stoker’s name before the title is meant to indicate a more faithful adaptation along the lines of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If it is then that book is horrible! I’m sure it’s just a marketing ploy, though. The story has been filmed three times before (plus a TV movie), and without seeing any of them I can guarantee they’re all more enjoyable than this. The first adaptation came from Hammer and it was titled Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. It was the last of Hammer’s Mummy series, and I’d rather stare at the poster for 99 minutes than sit through Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy again.

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The Mummy (1959)

Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne, Felix Aylmer, Raymond Huntley, George Pastell, George Woodbridge, Harold Goodwin, Denis Shaw, Willoughby Gray, Michael Ripper

Directed by Terence Fisher

Expectations: High. The Mummy was my favorite Universal horror film as a kid.

For the final film of my four film Hammer series, I decided to go with the hallowed tale of The Mummy, a standby favorite monster of my childhood via the 1932 Universal film starring Boris Karloff. What was always interesting to me about that film was Karloff’s vulnerability and the fact that while he was killing people and generally doing wrong, he had a reason to do so that was understandable. He was a sympathetic monster and coupled with the copious Egyptian motifs, I was powerless to the power of the mummy.

So going into Hammer’s take on the tale, there was a pretty high hill to climb. Unfortunately, I can’t say what I’ve said in all the previous Hammer reviews, that “This one is even better than the Universal version!” I stand firmly by the original, and while I did greatly enjoy Hammer’s film, I thought it was slower than it needed to be. When your monster is a shambling corpse wrapped in ancient bandages and caked with thick swamp mud, you do get something of a pass, but I can’t excuse away all of the film’s crawling pace.

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