THE MUMMY’S REVENGE
File under: Mummy: Egyptian; reincarnation
I was late to the Naschy party (so many movies, so little time) and this is the first film by the Spanish actor/writer that I’ve seen. But now that I’ve checked out the hors d’oeuvres, I think I’ll stay for the main course.
I picked this particular Naschy movie at random, choosing it based on my love for Egyptian culture in general and mummy movies in particular, and it seems that I stumbled upon a rather hard to find and in some instances atypical Naschy flick. The version I picked more or less at random off eBay (actually, I was buying a couple of scarce Japanese movie from the vendor, saw the Naschy title and grabbed it as well) seems to be the widescreen Spanish version with subtitles. My only complaint about this film is its darkness — not in philosophical terms but in terms that some parts of it are damn hard to follow on the screen. This may be the fault of the dupe itself or a lack of adequate lighting while filming, I’m not sure. In any case, I understand from subsequent research that even the official releases are not ideal as to quality.
A couple of things really impressed me about this movie. First, the story background. Naschy as writer (And I should mention that his dual role of writer/actor also impressed the hell out of me. Has anyone else shown himself to be as prolifically talented in both areas of film making in the horror genre as Naschy?) chose to portray an actual historic character as the Mummy, the pharaoh Amenhotep of the 18th dynasty.
Ah, but which Amenhotep? There were four. All had relatively long reigns. A I reigned 21 years. A II, 28. A III, 39 years of unprecedented prosperity, so he seems a bad candidate for the film’s sadistic and perverted pharaoh. (He was pretty old when he finally kicked off, though. Did he achieve his longevity from sacrificing virgins?). How about A IV? Here, at the risk of this devolving into a history lesson, is where some interesting data comes into play.
In the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten, and (in the name of brevity I’ll simplify) revolutionized Egyptian society. From the beginning he had championed a new god (Egypt had a lot of gods, with new ones popping up frequently), Aten, a solar deity. As his reign went on (he lasted for twelve years) he turned Egypt into what can be called (for simplicity’s sake) the first monotheistic society. He deserted the capital city and built a new city in the desert he called Amarna. But his changes didn’t keep. At his death his capital was deserted by his successor, the well known Tutankhamun and Egypt quickly returned to worshiping their crowded pantheon of gods and goddesses.
In THE MUMMY’S REVENGE the name of his equally cruel and sadistic concubine was, wait for it, Amarna. And he was poisoned by whom? The creepy-looking guy who was the head priest of Amun Ra, the sun god, who up until then had been first in Egypt’s pantheon and would certainly be looking to regain his number one ranking. What about Amenhotep’s sadism and perversion as portrayed in the movie? Unlikely in reality, but I’ll allow Naschy his poetic license. Besides it makes more sense to me that the villain of a mummy movie would be motivated by perverted and sadistic inclinations rather than pining for a lost love. As portrayed by Naschy, he’s simply a murderous bastard, and I’ll accept that.
Chris Lee set the stage for the active Mummy in earlier Hammer films, but Naschy’s Mummy is creepier and more murderous (he was a sadistic bastard, remember) and his look and some of his specific actions (ie, the kiss) are strangely mirrored in the later Brendan Fraser MUMMY. Perhaps, not so strangely, after all.
Other things that I liked about this film: The setting. It looked that it was filmed at least partially in London. There were establishing shots of Cleopatra’s Needle, the Egyptian obelisk on the Thames Embankment, as well as the statue of Boudica, the ancient Celtic Queen who led a rebellion against the Romans, not that this had anything to do with this movie. The shots of the lotus plants and water lilys looked like they’d been filmed in one of the Kew Gardens botanical park greenhouses, and certainly many of the interiors resembled British stately homes of the period. Also, the women impressed me. Both Helga Line (Zenifer; Naschy’s current-day paramour and accomplice)
and Rina Ottolina (Elena/Amerna) were stunning. Apparently, the “hard” version of this film with nudity and even more explicit head smooshing and throat cutting has vanished, if indeed it ever existed. Pity about the nudity, anyway.
All and all an impressive introduction to the Naschyverse. I’ll be looking for more, for sure, especially since I like werewolf movies only slightly less than I like mummy movies.
This movie rates a solid 8 with me.