2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 23: The Mummy Theme Park (2000)

23. DEPT. OF INDUSTRY & LABOR: A story based on doing a job. Speaking of jobs, yours ain’t finished yet, 8 days to go!

I used to worry that I would run out of berserk Italian movies, especially when the 1990s give way to the 2000s but that shows what I know, because The Mummy Theme Park — the jobs in this movie would be theme park owner, photographer and model in case you wonder — is one of the most baffling, weird, wonderful and just plain strange movies that I’ve seen.

Alvaro Passeri has only directed five movies*, including PlanktonFlight to HellThe Golden Grain and Psychovision. His animation skills — he worked on Cinema ParadisoThe Shark HunterThe Wild BeastsAtlantis Interceptors and more — really come in handy here because this is a movie that sees its low budget and says, “We can do more.”

An earthquake reveals the underground City of the Dead in Egypt and Sheik El Sahid get the somewhat bright and probably more deranged idea to take all of the mummies and fit them with animatronics and turn them into a Jurassic Park in the sands. He wants it to be a big deal, so he calls over photographer Daniel Flynn (Adam O’Neil) and his co-worker Julie (Holly Laningham) to take photos of the place, which as far as I can tell is one room with mirrors and miniatures and all manner of in-camera and in-post special effects working as hard as they can and then some to make this movie look bigger than it is while also looking cheap while also appearing to be one of the most charming movies I’ve ever seen. It’s neon, it’s glitter, it’s robot mummies, it’s insane.

And yet, this isn’t a movie made goofy on purpose. It’s deliriously sure of itself and yet unaware of what it is at the same time and that’s the combination that I love more than any other when it comes to weird movies.

Can the flash of a camera bring mummies back to life? Are women’s breasts the only thing that can stop them? Will heads get torn off? Will someone puke up everything inside them? Can a chase scene go on forever? Will there be long scenes of fashion that pad the running time? Will there be a model train that goes through a sphinx? Is there also an evil sorceress? Will the sheik’s harem fight against one another and will one of them also be a hologram? Will there be a souvenir shop that has pharaoh heads that spit out beer?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

I mean, this is the kind of movie where a dude gets his head sliced in half and the results look like those cutaway pages in encyclopedias we all used to obsess over. And for that reason and so many others, this is perfect. Man, I’m still processing this movie. I keep reading reviews laughing about how cheap this movie looks and we should be so lucky to have this in our lives.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*Under that name, that is. There’s also the rumor that he’s Massimiliano Cerchi, the name under which he’s directed seventeen movies including The Penthouse that came out this year. Unless there are two directors and special effects guys who have the same name and I’ve been surprised before and if you do the math, Cerchi was making those movies when he was eight. IMDB used to have them as the same person and now they’re separated, so perhaps…who can say!?!

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