2019 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 5: Dawn of the Mummy (1981)

DAY 5. MUMMY’S DAY: An ancient woman wrapped in linen has resurfaced with new purpose.

There are plenty of mummy films to choose from, but ever since I wrote this article on section 3 video nasties, I’ve been wanting to watch this.

Dawn of the Mummy was directed by Farouk “Frank” Agrama, who was also behind the camera for the abysmal King Kong parody, Queen Kong. He’d go on to form Harmony Gold — yes, the same people who redubbed MacrossSouthern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeda and turned them into Robotech. After that, he’d later be convicted of buying and selling film rights at inflated prices in a scandal that also brought down former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Agrama would have gone to jail if he wasn’t 82 years old, but was later exonerated.

Dawn of the Mummy was shot in Egypt with a mostly Italian crew, which allows it to transcend its boring beginnings and emerge with a second half filled with utter mayhem, as these mummies aren’t just content to shamble around. No, they’re closer to zombies that must feast upon the flesh of the living.

The film begins in ancient Egypt, where youngvillagers are taken away to be the servants for Pharaoh Sefirama in the next life. As we watch his body get prepared for the next world, they’re killed with poison gas and the entrance to the tomb is sealed. Then, the high priestess places a curse on the pyramid, declaring “he who enters this tomb, after it is sealed, will die on the dawn of the mummy”.

By the way, if you watch movies with me, please know that any time the title of the film is said within the dialogue, I scream and yell as if I’m Pee-Wee Herman and you just said the secret word.

We then fast forward to the present, where the high priestess — now an ancient crone — chases off some grave robbers. They’re persistent, however, even in the fact of poison gas, but we soon discover that they’ve met their demise when a fashion shoot in the desert ends up with a model tripping over one of their severed heads. Yep — if you’re expecting a bloodless mummy affair, you picked the wrong scuzzy movie to enjoy.

One of the grave robbers, Rick, has survived. The film then goes into he and his henchmen following the fashion shoot into the cursed pyramid. Yes, you may have always wondered, “How would the pharaohs react to disco and vogueing?” This is the movie that strives to answer that question.

The photographers being their lighting into the pharaoh’s burial chamber, which behins to wake the slumbering monarch. Then someone spills a bowl filled with the mummy’s organs and burns her hands, thanks to the blood of the mummy. That sends a torrent of zombie-like mummies into the streets. Numerous explosions later, our heroes — such as they are, they’re all pretty much morons — celebrate even through Pharaoh Sefirama is still alive.

This movie was remade in 2015 as Prisoners of the Sun, with Joss Ackland and John Rhys-Davies. It’s directed by Roger Christian, who of course brought us Battlefield Earth.

Anchor Bay released this years ago, but it’s currently out of print. If you want to see it, it’s on Amazon Prime. It’s nowhere near as good as the poster makes it look, but it’s certainly different than most mummy films. It’s a movie so messy and scummy that you feel like you may very well be covered in the dusty, mucky and grue of the tombs that it explores.

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