JUNE 14, 2010
According to the IMDb, Seven Mummies cost 5 million dollars. My question is, on WHAT? The biggest stars in the film appear for an average of 3 minutes a piece, the entire thing takes place in either a desert or a flimsy Old West town that I’ve probably seen in other movies, the soundtrack only has independent bands, etc. And they sure as hell didn’t spend it on lights, because the entire 2nd half of the film is cloaked in darkness that made it almost impossible to tell what I was looking at, which is pretty problematic when you consider all but one of our “heroes” are wearing identical clothes.
Oh, and it’s terrible. Not that having a reasonably decent budget for this type of thing should translate to being a good movie, but the fact that they spent more than what the two Hatchet films cost combined is just depressing. You’d think that if someone put up that much dough that they would at least ensure that it was technically proficient, but it’s just as amateurish and shoddy as the incoherent story.
The most laughable thing about the film (and there are many) is how often director Nick Quested and editor Donn Aron (who should know better, as he’s cut several Walter Hill films) load the film with superimposed images like this one:
Yes, that’s THREE different shots playing at once (with dialogue to boot!). It may be the most extreme example, but it’s the type of thing you’ll see throughout the film, even during the climax, as we see the heroes (on a motorcycle) and the villain (on a horse) overlapping, rather than show how far they are from each other or anything that would make the scene the least bit interesting or exciting. And again, the lighting is awful, making the action even harder to follow. Maybe the Netflix transfer wasn’t demo quality, but I should at least be able to process what is happening in a given shot even at lo-res.
Not that it was ruining a potentially good story, mind you. For the life of me I cannot figure out what exactly the villains were trying to accomplish, or even what they WERE - mummies seem to be the least prolific monster in the film, as most of the antagonists are folks who act like vampires in some scenes and like zombies in others. Plus Billy Drago’s character, who is the main villain, seems to be some sort of sand ghost. And who knows if Danny Trejo is supposed to be dead or alive, he’s just some guy (an Indian, in fact - he even chants and dances!) who delivers a few pages’ worth of exposition and then laughs for at least 90 seconds straight (and I assure you I am not joking).
As for our “heroes”, they’re (sigh) once again a busload of prisoners who use an accident to escape, but they stick together and bicker a lot, and take a hostage in the form of a female guard who has seemingly forgotten everything about being a guard. Highly original. Cerina Vincent plays the role, and I would be shocked to learn if she had more than 10 lines in the movie, most of which are just “I’m fine” or “Fuck you!” type phrases. I can’t quite recall the last time I saw so much screentime given to someone who did so little in the film. And it's not her fault - she's an engaging presence, but the script betrays her; she’s not so much the heroine as she is the actress with the most screen time.
The rest of the cast is populated with folks playing the same type of people they always play: Billy Drago as a villainous weirdo, Noel G as a thug, Matt Schulze as an angry guy, etc. And I felt bad for poor Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights’ Tyra), a wonderful girl who hopefully leaves this off her resume (it was pre-FNL), in a thankless role as a hooker who sells out our guys, and somehow manages to have more dialogue than Vincent despite having only about 1/4th the screentime. Andrew Bryniarski also pops up as one of the prisoners, but he decides to follow his own path, which results in him being forgotten about for a while, and then we fade to him wandering around in the sun yelling at the air, before following the movie’s lead and shooting himself in the foot. He also co-produced the film, in case you were wondering.
The constant ripoffs from other films do it no favors either, as it just reminds you of movies that you’d rather be watching. From Dusk Til Dawn and Demon Knight are prominent examples, and someone seems to have a hardon for Carpenter, as we get lifts from Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, and Vampires as well. There’s even a touch of 7 Golden Vampires, as our mummies (who are actually Jesuit priests) have some crazy kung fu moves (...) that are used way too little for my tastes. If the entire movie was just mummy priests flying around and kicking dudes I might have liked it.
And while it’s only like 72 minutes without the credits, it’s still padded, particularly with the film’s bookends, showing a coffin being dragged by two old timey prospectors. The coffin breaks in the opening scene, and then they are killed, so I have no idea who the guys at the end of the film are or whose coffin they are dragging, since the other one was busted open. If I had to guess, the end scene is just some unused footage of the opening scene, strung together with some b-roll of Drago (’s stunt double) on his horse to try to make a scene out of it. It’s just as incoherent and awkward as all of the other action in the film, and has no point other than to get the film up to 80 minutes with credits (we’re also treated to some more of Trejo’s laughing).
My good friend Simon claimed that this movie was so bad that he actually didn’t want to watch movies for a while. I feel his pain. If Vampire’s Kiss is the type of movie that keeps me going with HMAD, then this fucking thing is the type of movie that makes me want to quit. After watching it, I sighed heavily as I looked at my DVD/game/book collections, seeing all of the unopened things I could have spent my 80 minutes doing instead. My only solace is that Quested has not directed again, and writer Thadd Turner (who also provided the film’s IMDb summary, presumably because no one else could make sense of it) hasn’t had a script produced since, though he has SEVEN (!) listed in pre-production, which is hopefully just wishful thinking. I can buy that maybe his script got ruined by Quested and co., but nothing in the film suggests that it was any good to begin with.
What say you?