Tale of the Mummy



Notes: Billed as Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of the Mummy. Muraglia / Sladek Productions in association with 7th Voyage and Imperial Entertainment Group and KNB Effects Group / A Carousel Picture Company production. 88 minutes.
Detective Riley: Jason Scott Lee (Mowgli)
Sam Turkel: Louise Lombard
Brad Cortese: Sean Pertwee
Sir Richard Turkel: Christopher Lee
Edith the Psychic: Shelly Duvall
Dr. Claire Mulrooney: Lysette Anthony
Professor Marcus: Michael Lerner
Detective Bar-something: Jack Davenport
Captain Shea: Honor Blackman

Directed: Russell Mulcahy
Produced: Silvio Muraglia and Daniel Sladek
Executive Producers: Tom Reeve and Romain Schroeder
Story: Keith Williams and Russell Mulcahy
Screenplay: John Esposito and Russell Mulcahy
Music: Stefano Mainetti

Summary: “Valley of the Kings, Egypt. August 15, 1948. The Turkel Expedition. Day 262.” A boy finds and begins to open a tomb entrance and runs to inform Sir Richard Turkel. No name shows up in the inscriptions. Mr. Young, a crass treasure-hunter, and Mr. Parsons, a dumpy frightened man, accompany Sir Richard into the mine. A curse is inscribed at the entrance to the chamber: “Listen all who now have being: avoid this place…. I who have slaughtered the innocent — I who have confused terror with pleasure.” They call this mummy Talos. As they break in, a flapping wind emerges, then a blast chokes the three. They flee, but half of Parson’s head crumbles to dust, Young falls from a rope and crumbles to ash, and Turkel’s limbs disintegrate as he makes his way to the detonator to blow the dig up. He succeeds.

In January 1999, Turkel’s daughter Sam leads an expedition and they find numerous ancient Egyptian corpses in the chamber. Brad Cortese is terrorized and goes mad. Burke climbs to get an amulet and falls to his death.

Back in London, Sam sees a tv news story about the planets aligning and speculations about the biblical Judgment Day. At the British Museum, Professor Marcus nearly witnesses an odd incident in which Egyptian tomb scraps disappear and a man is killed. Two detectives are brought in to discover that the man’s eyes had been removed. Soon a second victim loses his lungs after being wrapped by scraps of cloth.

Somewhat insane Brad harasses Dr. Claire Mulrooney, trying to tell her that Talos is responsible and it’s the end of the world. A guy in a disco washes his face and pull the public towel to dry off, but it’s the scraps of cloth again and he is killed for his pituitary gland. Detective Riley contacts Sam and then visits Brad’s apartment where he sees a sculpture of a princess’s head and enough newspaper clippings and weirdness to make Brad the suspect. Brad attacks and escapes.

A guy in a parking garage tries to hide in his car but the bandages surround and a fist forms to punch in the window. The mummy creeps along the ceiling like a spider and kills this guy for his liver.

Riley and Sam realize that this is the list of organs removed from Talos for his mummification. Meanwhile, Brad visits a psychic who uses a crystal and puts him in a trance. He sees a subway station but realizes he’s walking on all fours. He’s a blind man’s dog. Brad runs to the station but is too late as the dog is being killed by those shreds and he gets the blame.

A cleaning lady picks up some rags. The shreds enter an apartment through the mail slot and come upon a Psycho-like shower scene set-up. But Claire unwittingly escapes. Brad shows up at Sam’s and as he is holding a gun to her heart, Riley clubs him. On interrogation he explains that Talos was a Greek exile with learning and dark science. He married into the Egyptian royal family and instituted religious persecutions. An assassination was plotted when the princess ratted him out and he planned to die on his own terms — mummification, preserving his soul for a return. The princess and others were found in the act of cannibalism, eating his organs. His body was not found, only wrappings.

Thursday at 10:55 the planets will realign. We realize the mummy’s victims are the reincarnations of the original organ-eaters. The mummy enters Brad’s prison cell and kills both a detective and Brad. Later the cop at Sam’s door disappears, the lights flicker, and the bandages are after her. She runs to another apartment and down the laundry chute with the mummy in pursuit. A limping dog comes along and she pets it. It turns into the mummy and takes her away.

The psychic’s business card, formerly in Brad’s possession, leads Riley to her. Those two, Professor Marcus, and Claire perform a séance in which the psychic taps into Brad’s corpse’s energy before it moves on. The corpse levitates and indicates that Sam is hanging from the ceiling somewhere. The corpse draws a pyramid and water on the ceiling before falling even deader.

Sam comes to, swings, and crawls around until the monster with cloven hooves confronts her. She calls Talos an “infidel. The others are close by and a plague of birds terrorizes the psychic. The Professor is nearly possessed, and he is next leaning over the corpse of the psychic, but we realize Claire is the bigger threat when she kills the Professor. Riley stumbles onto the mummy and Sam. His bullets do nothing to the mummy, so he shoots her at her command. It turns out that Riley is a reincarnation too. Claire gives Riley’s heart to the mummy — the last organ. Talos crawls along and then turns human-looking. Claire gets the blame for the bloodbath, and a man looking like Riley turns around — he is now the evil vicious nasty hideous horror from hell mummy thing!

Commentary: Is this a knock-off of The Mummy (1999) by Universal? Tale of the Mummy is to The Mummy as Carnosaur is to Jurassic Park. It’s rather confusing but in many respects more effective. Killing the reincarnations of your own cannibals to reconstitute yourself is a good idea, but the mummy faces the same problem as always: too human and it’s not scary, too inhuman (as here — a conglomeration of bandages) and it’s not scary either. Crawling along the ceiling like a giant spider is a nice touch, though.

Mummy Films