Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy (1998)

*. Sheesh. They give Stoker credit (presumably trying to make a connection in people’s minds with Bram Stoker’s Dracula) but that’s not even his title. The movie is based on Stoker’s novel The Jewel of Seven Stars. Now I can see how that wouldn’t fly with studios since nobody would know what it meant. And to be fair The Jewel of Seven Stars has been filmed several times, but never under that title. I mean, if you’re going to make a mummy movie you’d better put “mummy” in there somewhere.
*. It’s also the case that Stoker’s novel is unfilmable. I talked about this in my notes on Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb so I won’t go over it again here. Suffice it to say that this is another very loose adaptation.
*. What’s funny — and this is a very funny movie — is that instead of streamlining the novel’s obscure plot they’ve gone and made it even more confusing. I’ve read The Jewel of Seven Stars and still had no idea what was going on here. There’s the same basic idea of the archaelogist having a daughter who shares a “double existence” with ancient Queen Tera, but from there I got lost in a hurry.
*. If you’re a mummy fan, however, you do get to see a real mummy stumbling around, not doing much. I guess that’s a plus, though I was wondering what his connection to everything was.
*. I called this a very funny movie and it is. It represents one of those rare instances where you can enjoy a movie’s badness. What it made me think of was some VHS porn tape from the 1980s where the “actors” have to stumble around a house trying to suggest a smattering of plot until they can get their clothes off. Everything about the production here is on that same level, but what really makes it fun are all “Huh? What?” moments.
*. Examples include a maid who has a vision of a couple making out in a tub. I don’t know what that was supposed to represent. Then there’s an introductory scene where Robert suggests they move Margaret’s comatose father to a hospital and she tersely responds “No, my father hates hospitals.” So there! Then, even after they receive the father’s strict instructions that two people remain in his room watching over him at all times we see various characters get up and leave, even just to get a breath of fresh air. Then in a later scene we will see Margaret leave Robert because she needs some fresh air, despite the fact that they are both sitting outside!
*. Also a lot of fun is Richard Karn providing the comic relief (as though any were necessary) and Louis Gossett Jr., sounding as though he’s been dubbed, playing an archaeologist who is so crazy he’s had himself committed. What his plan here is a little hard to figure out — it has something to do with becoming a new pharaoh I think — but then he’s crazy anyway.
*. Another curious thing about the film is that, despite being a very free adaptation of Stoker, it keeps a lot of the late-Victorian feel of the novel. The action has been transplanted to San Francisco but we may as well be in London circa. 1900. The setting is a big house with lots of servants, a personal doctor (played by Aubrey Morris, who also played the doctor in Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb), and a detetcive (actually the head of security) who apparently hails from “the Yard” and has the accent to go with it.
*. As I’ve said before, most mummy movies aren’t very good. This one is so bad it’s a bit better than the average. Impossible to sit through twice though.

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