Dawn of the Mummy - 1981

Dawn of the Mummy - Released December 11, 1981. Directed by Frank Agrama

An American fashion photographer with models in tow travels to Egypt for a photoshoot, coming across another American - this one being a treasure hunter - who has uncovered an Egyptian Pharaonic tomb. The photographer decides the subterranean tomb would be a great place to photograph his models, and naturally the mummy buried in the tomb rises to action to put a stop to all the nonsense disturbing his sleep.

This low budget film is truly an "international" feature, with shots in New York City and Giza, but there is some absolutely dreadful dubbing (Americans dubbing their English lines and still somehow not in synch). The dialogue seems to have frequently been made up on the spot and is repetitious to a very high degree, to the point that actors simply repeat their lines in rapid succession, apparently to try and emphasize their excitement, greed or bewilderment.

The tale tries to borrow from the George Romero zombie epic Dawn of the Dead, but instead looks more like a bland, sub-TV movie production suddenly becoming a darkly-lit gore fest before turning back into the bland sub-TV movie. The prelude to this film also borrows from the 1932 The Mummy with Karloff and possibly Hammer films Mummy from 1959, if not from any other dozens of Mummy films made over the century since George Melies began using the movie camera to perform tricks and illusions.

The art direction in Dawn of the Mummy is pretty good in consideration of what looks like minimal production dollars utilized, and the titular Mummy isn't a white-bandaged Karloff clone, but a heavily and darkly lacquered monster that looks 7 feet tall and is rather impressive standing still. Moving is a different issue and doesn't make sense in the classic physics of bad-monster-movies where a fast-footed girl appears on screen to be breaking a land speed record while running in terror, but somehow the slowly-shuffling monster is always ten feet behind her.

Is Dawn of the Mummy a terrible movie? Yes, and if everything was backwards in the movie awards business, after a few of these overheated acting scenes I would want someone to hand the cast a couple of golden Academy Award Oscars. [Z]

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