Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Dawn of the Mummy

DAWN OF THE MUMMY

(1981)


Notes: Harmony Gold Ltd. 97 minutes.
Starring: Brenda King, Barry Sattels, George Peck.
Featuring: John Salvo, Ibrahim Khan, Joan Levy, Ellen Faison, Diane Beatty, Ali Gohar.

Screenplay: Daria Price, Ronald Dobrin, Frank Agrama
Music: Shuki Y. Levi
Executive Producer: Lew Horwitz
Producer/Director: Frank Agrama [cf. The Lost World (1992), Queen Kong (1976)]


Commentary: In Egypt, 3000 B.C., an Osiris ritual for the cruel Sephiraman (?) involves his disembowling and mummification. A curse placed on the tomb by a priestess suggests that his army will all rise and kill together.

An explosion, detonated by a cheesy archaeological team, means that they’ll have to wait until the next day while the poison air clears. An eerie woman, Zena, harasses them and warns of the curse. “There is no curse,” says Rick the leader of the team. “There’s poison in the air. It’s perfectly scientific.”

Zena warns some locals about the desecration of the tomb by the American-led team. A few greedy ones enter the tomb and have their faces burnt and bleeding.

In New York City, people walk around, or pose on roller skates for photo shoots. But then we all go to Cairo for a photo shoot. Melinda spends time on her toenails while Jenny oohs and aahs about the sights. Gary is a lazy model. Bill is the photographer. Other women are along too in the group’s two jeeps. During a tire change, one woman is terrorized upon discovering a severed head in the sand dunes.

The archaeological team — Rick, Derick, and Kharim — detonate more explosives in a search for a treasure room. They discover a sarcophagus and the mummy inside it. Outside but nearby, a photoshoot proceeds with disco music: “Hey Mr. Boogieman.” Kharim turns sniper and shoots at the photography group. Rick stops him but cannot stop the invasion into the tomb. The lights make the mummy secretly secrete. Jenny spills ooze on her hand and gets burned. Her hand rots at night and demands further medical attention.

Kharim defiles the mummy for gold. Another door automatically opens, but he is knocked out and dragged off. Rick and Derick later find the stuff he had tried to steal back with the mummy. More photography ensues, and the mummy oozes some more under the lights. Finally it moves.

That night, the horses are weird. Butchery is later discovered. Kharis with bloody face terrorizes one of the women and drops. Gary’s scared. Rick has a fling with one of the women. Zena visits the empty sarcophagus and announces to no one that the mummy has arisen. She seems pleased, but the mummy appears and strangles her. Hands arise from out of the sand outside.

More photography. Lisa gets lost in a maze, stumbles upon a corpse, but is rescued. Ahmed takes some of the group to town. While Gary gets high, Jenny catches a glimpse of the mummy, walking about. The mummy visits Derick, who is a butcher, and butchers his head.

Back at camp, a couple women decide to go for a swim. (In the desert.) Lisa is still too upset to sleep with Bill. The swimmers’ horses are gone, and so they separate, one going back to camp and the other remaining to swim more. A hand from the sand nearly catches the returning one. The remaining bather, Melinda, is attacked by mummies. One rips at her neck with its teeth, and she disappears beneath quicksand.

Derick is discovered hanging from a meathook by Rick, who runs mad but finds the treasure room. The mummy discovers him and chokes him to death.

At Omar’s wedding, Bill can’t find Rick. He goes to the tomb, sees the gold treasures, and has Rick’s severed head fall on him. He returns to a jeep but an army of mummies attacks him. He meets up with a few others, but his gun does not work against the advancing mummy. A grip to his neck burns him. Three women attempt to escape on horseback, but Jenny doesn’t make it. These mummies eat the guts of their victims. Back in town, Omar goes to the tent of his new wife and discovers mummies eating her. Chaos erupts with mummies corraling townspeople, killing, and eating them. Omar is killed. Gary eludes the monsters. An older Egyptian with a shotgun helps two of the women temporarily until he is killed. Lisa, one other model, and a guy realize little explosives don’t work well against the main mummy, but they lure him into the explosives shack, dive out the windows, and blow it up. Gary emerges and joins the survivors.

From the fire, a hand arises.


Commentary: A slimy, charred but oozy, elongated mummy is very effective. The “army” here is not. They don’t function as an army and remain fairly ineffectual. The rest is difficult to bother with, since it’s impossible to keep track of interchangeable characters. This film is the mummy version of Planet of Dinosaurs.


Mummy Films
Mummies