Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy

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Ancient Evil: So Much Potential and Nothing to Do With It

Apr 26, 2002 (Updated Aug 11, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Action Factor:
  • Suspense:

Pros:Had Potential

Cons:Didn't Use It

The Bottom Line: A film that could have been great, but settles for decent.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Sub-category: Campus Thriller, Mummy
Setting: Secluded Compound
Predictability: Predictable
Scare Factor: A few chills
Gore Factor: Non-existent
Look-at-these: No Nudity

Synopsis: A group of college students are helping their professor to prepare a mummy for display. The mummy turns out to be a servant of the ancient Aztec rain god, Tlaloc. It just so happens that one of the students, Norman, is a practicing high Aztec priest (???). He decides to bring the mummy back to life and to fulfill a virgin sacrifice to Tlaloc. The gang must work together to avoid being killed.

Title Significance: The evil is ancient, but this mummy certainly doesn't scream. I have to admit that the title is catchy and part of the reason I chose to rent it.

Analysis: Apparently I'm the only one here who enjoyed this film at all; this came as absolutely no surprise to me. I have never met anyone who shares my taste in cinema and probably never will. Anyway, it seems that I've been renting a whole lot of David DeCoteau's work lately: The Brotherhood I & II, The Frightening and now, Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy. This film lacked the trademark of a DeCoteau film -- the excessive use of scantily clad men. The male cast members outnumbered the female cast members and there were some underwear scenes, but nothing I would consider to be gratuitous. This is a marked departure from The Brotherhood or The Frightening that boasted many a semi-nude man.

Overall, the acting was pretty lame. Ariauna Albright (Stacey) is the only horror veteran present and her performance suffers by comparison to her previous work in Witchouse. They had to use quite a bit of costume-magic to make her look like a twenty-something college student, that's for sure. Jeff Peterson delivers the best performance of the lot as the uptight mama's boy, Don. He plays a character that is rather agitated by Morris (Michael Lutz). His rage seems real and I think he portrayed the character exactly as he should have. Trent Latta (Norman) does a good job as the creepy nerd, a little too good if you ask me. The remainder of the cast isn't even worth mentioning.

Although poorly acted, the characters were a pretty good mix for a college horror flick. Had the parts been well acted, the interactions would have been tremendous. Morris is your classic jock who is just looking to get laid. Janine, the pretty young coed, falls head over heels in love with Morris. Don, the uptight mama's boy, despises Morris. Stacey is the nerdy girl that can't stop thinking about her absentee boyfriend. Arlando is the cool-headed guy that keeps the whole gang in check and cements them together. Replacing the actors for Morris and Janine would have given quite a boost to the character interactions.

The film had great potential but ultimately failed to realize it. The use of the ancient Aztec god, Tlaloc, was a great idea. The Aztec culture was known for its violence and sacrifice rituals, but the film largely ignored this. There was not a single mention of Huitzilopochtli, the primary Aztec god to whom many sacrifices were made, or Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of death and resurrection. In fact, there was little mention of the legend of Tlaloc other than that he was the rain god. Legend has it that Tlaloc was greatly feared because of his ability to destroy crops with rain and to spread leprosy and other disease. There is just so much untapped potential here. My personal opinion is that the cast just couldn't pronounce any of the other gods' names and so they decided to leave them out. The solution should have been to leave the cast out.

While I think that the invocation of an Aztec god was a good idea, the notion that there is actually some middle-class white family practicing Aztec rituals is a bit over the top. And the compound where the film takes place wasn't scary at all. I think the film would have been best served by setting it in an Aztec temple, although that would have made it even more similar to The Mummy. There just isn't much scary about your average, run of the mill dormitory.

Thunder and lightening shots were pervasive in the film, with Tlaloc being the rain god and all. At first I found this to provide an excellent mood for the movie, but after a while it got really old. Surprisingly, I don't remember any of the cast members getting wet. There were a few good stalk scenes where the mummy slowly approached its victims, but there was nothing spectacular. The mummy itself wasn't very scary; the costume to make Ariauna look younger was scarier than the mummy.

Final Comments: I actually enjoyed this film, although you need to take this with a grain of salt. I am not known for my impeccable taste in cinema. There were a few suspenseful moments and a decent, although under-utilized, story. This is by far DeCoteau's best work to date and I do recommend this film for a rainy day.

DeCoteau's Homoerotic Thrillers: The Brotherhood I, II, III, Leeches!, The Frightening, Voodoo Academy

DeCoteau's Non-Homoerotic Thrillers: Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Witchouse, Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy

Recommend this product? Yes

Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
Special Effects: Well at least you can't see the strings

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