As long as there's a straight-to-DVD-market, there will always be dodgy underdog horror films. As long as there are dodgy underdog horror films, we'll need film journalists to sift through the dreg hunting hidden genre treasures. Unfortunately, Charles Pinion's American Mummy sits on the dreg side of the treasure fence.
Not to be dubious but American Mummy feels symbiotically bound to Universal's Mummy reboot. The distributers and producers are probably hoping that their film will either whet appetites until the big event or, more insidiously, reap the benefits of mummy-fever via click-sploitation.
Either way, it probably won't work.
American Mummy isn’t a bad film because it’s a cheap film. It’s a bad film because it’s lazily done and looks cheap. The camera work is dull, the direction is all over the place, and the actors are all pretty dire.
American Mummy deserves brownie points for being a different kind of mummy movie, ending up like A Mexican Mummy in America. The mummy itself looks pretty cool, but it’s not a film about a resurrected zombie. American Mummy is about an evil influence exerted over the dig team, but even then it leaves itself open to a possible disease released with the uncovering of the age-old corpse.
It’s all a bit stagey and over complicated. One particular scene has a Russian paleontologist straddle a corpse and in the events that follow we can often see the strings but not in a charming way. These issues persist throughout, with actors who can't stay still for corpse scenes and "surprises" you can see coming a mile off thanks to stunted performances. These are irritating and sloppy flourishes on an already lackluster project.
It is a welcome surprise then that Pinion's influences clearly stretch to Evil Dead, a film he happily lampoons through preposterous practical gore into the film's second half. It’s hardly a switch around, but it does give the film a more fitting schlocky vibe. Pinion's main issue seems to be tone; he simply can't marry his horror and his humour without an obligatory dollop of melodrama or total lack of. For example, a man accidentally dismembers someone only to carry on as if nothing has happened or in another moment a man decapitates his lover after a tearful (and long) farewell, only to exclaim in comedic irritation when her head rolls under his van.
It’s not a pig-awful film to be fair, and that's what's irritating. It’s just low budget and ill conceived. Bad acting, dopey dialogue, and generally daft filmmaking make the film tough to watch, with ludicrous plotting and OTT gore stepping in towards the end to save the day. Bad, fun, forgettable.
AMERICAN MUMMY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: CHARLES PINION / SCREENPLAY: CHARLES PINION, GREG SALMAN / STARRING: AARON BURT, SUZIEY BLOCK, PETER MARR, AIDAN BRISTOW / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 5/10