Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

The Mummy Lives


Notes: GlobalPictures.
Dr. Mohassid: Tony Curtis
Sandra Barnes: Leslie Hardy
Dr. Carey Williams: Greg Wrangler
Lord Maxton: Jack Cohen

Executive Producers: Yoram Globus, ChristopherPearce
Line Producers: Allan Greenblatt, Chaim Sharir
Produced: Harry Alan Towers
Associate Producer: Anita Hope
Directed: Gerry O’Hara
Screenplay: Nelson Gidding
Music: Dov Seltzer

Summary: “Bound by destiny. Consumed by sin. His vengeance is eternal.” Whatever.

The credits include a cataloguing of astrologicalsymbols. We see pyramids, camels, and airplanes. Sandra Barnesnarrates her impulse to come to Egypt after the death of her fatherand breakup of a relationship. Something is so . . . familiar. Meanwhile, arrogant millionaire Lord Maxton heads a dig; a tombentry is interrupted by the Department of Antiquities.

Sandra dreams of an ancient ritual and thenof Aziru, a high priest of Zoth, and Kia, a sacred concubine ofthis supposed god of vengeance, being caught together in a tent. The priest is condemned “never to pass into the hereafter”and is wrapped mummy-style alive. This dream is intercut withscenes of Maxton and the archaeologists sneaking into the tomb,encountering a cobra, and opening the sarcophagus. The entrailswere not removed and the cutting of the linen reveals “nophysical damage,” so we decide he was buried alive. Removalof the mask reveals a skeletal scream. An Egyptian guide stealsa few pieces. Another graverobbing official is strangled by thereclining mummy, and the mummy is soon ambulatory.

On the way to a Cairo museum, Sandra yammersin often fragmented monotones: “The pyramids always drewme to them. That the entrances are aligned with stars is magical.Hidden passageways as mysterious diversions, and of course theelaborate farewell to the loved one, with the beautiful storiesand paintings to guide one into the future. You were loved andrespected; you will be remembered; you were part of somethinglarge and lovely while you lived here. And once all the many layersare peeled back, once the stories have been etched into the outerlayers of the sarcophagus and then removed, you are left withthe ornate shell of a life, even wearing the rings and necklacespart of a breathing day far away from the insulated walls of thepyramid. A dry hot sandy breeze. Pouring water and looking intothe eyes of your loved one, and seeing that spark of recognitionthat you and he are alive and that anything is possible.”

In the museum, she insanely breaks a glasscase and rips a hand off a mummified arm, presumably because ofthe ring. She faints and is tended to by psychiatrist Carey Williams.

Among snakes, the hideous mummy prays for restorationand turns into Tony Curtis in time to greet the archaeologists,point out the inscription’s curse to anyone defiling the sacredprecinct, and announce himself as Dr. Mohassid: “I am theprotector of the dead.” The graverobber’s corpse is found.

Sandra has a dream in which the hideous versionof the mummy attacks her. She calls the shrink and subsequentlysees him on dates which involve psychoanalysis, horseback riding,and scampering away from oddly misplaced rattlesnakes.

Tony Curtis promises the god Zoth that he “shallpurge this land of the unholy plunderers of our graves.”As Dr. Mohassid, he visits one of the archaeologists, correctshim on finer points of ancient life (insisting on the popularitynot of wine but of beer from Memphis), and disappears when a snakeeats a pet bird.

Sandra and the shrink visit a marketplace,and she wanders off, becomes increasingly terrified, is harassedin a lowlife tunnel underground, and wakes up in Dr. Mohassid’scar going back to her hotel where they meet the shrink. Mohassidtells him, “There is very little in the modern world we Egyptiansdid not have 3000 years ago.” After announcing his passionfor antiquities, he claims laughingly to be one himself. Afterwards,the shrink thinks Mohassid was afraid to be touched.

Sandra makes another museum visit and seesa statue of Kia, a mummified cat return to life, and various othervisions ending with her entombment by jackals. The shrink tellsher it’s death anxiety and guilt since the dreams always end insuffocation (which they don’t).

At the tomb, the Dr. identifies artifacts sowell that Maxton calls him “a phenomenon.” But he alsohas the lid of a sarcophagus fall and crush the skull of a researcherhe calls “graverobber.” At a cocktail party later, Mohassidberates Maxton as another graverobber and threatens to dig upWestminster Abbey. He later apologizes by giving Maxton a cat,but the cat scratches the millionaire’s eyes and his face blowsup in infection. Mohassid prays to Zoth to allow more time forfurther vengeance and the voice of Zoth demands revenge for thegraverobbing and that Aziru “return the girl.” Mohassidvisits the hospital and kills Maxton.

Sandra dreams of a snake in her bed. She runsout into a storm and to Mohassid who places her in his bed. Shenext realizes the hideous mummy is next to her. Awake, she learnsof the astrological “night of the embrace” when, every3300 years, Jupiter and Mars (with their ancient Egyptian nameswhich make them male and female) align in retrograde motion; iflost loves reunite in this time, “the gods will allow themto enter paradise where they will live in divine ecstasy.”Sandra turns down a ring offered by Mohassid. The shrink meanwhiledoes some research and realizes it’s a race against time to Luxor.

The two remaining archaeologists are killed,one by a snake, the other apparently by embalming after Mohassidbinds him in mummy wrap and shows him eviscerating tools. At Luxor,Sandra is summoned in the middle of the stormy night by Mohassid,who says, “I’ve calculated the exact time of the embrace,”and who gives her drugged wine and makes her up to look like Kia.He carries her into the tomb, and is slowly changing into therotting version of himself. He triggers a tomb-passage collapseand takes Sandra to be embalmed so that she can be reborn intoeternity, or something: “Your hour of eternity is here.”(Huh?) “Your body will be a house you can return to withoutdeath.” She knocks a tray of acid in his face, a fire starts,bullets tear into him as the Minister of Antiquities arrives withthe shrink, and the hideous version of Aziru collapses in flameswhile Sandra, the shrink, the Department of Antiquities guy, anda cheesy Egyptian run to escape the cave-in. Only Sandra and theshrink make it out. The film ends with the starry sky showingthe alignment of the planets.

Commentary:The video box claims that “this macabre tale [was] suggestedby horror master Edgar Allan Poe’s Some Words with a Mummy,”but this Poe work is a satirical short story simply involvinga reanimated mummy being unimpressed with the supposed accomplishmentsof nineteenth-century western culture. The only trace of Poe isMohassid’s claim that “There is very little in the modernworld we Egyptians did not have 3000 years ago.”

The film is annoyingly choppy, but at leastthis keeps it moving. The themes are all here, in slightly morecoherent form than in most mummy films, but not much. Dream sequencesare occasionally effective, but the vengeance in each case seemsarbitrary and certainly the larger structure on this score isnot organized clearly.

The god Zoth occasionally replies to Tony Curtisand sounds like Skeletor from the He-Man cartoon (or Megatronfrom the Transformers).

But dear God, why Tony Curtis?! That adenoidal New Yawk accent as ancient Egyptian? “Zoth in dy praise. Zoth in dy ways.”

Mummy Films