Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tomb, The (1986)

Directed by:
Fred Olen Ray

Thieving treasure hunters seeking a fortune in ancient valuables accidentally disrupt the long sleep of long-dead, blood-drinking Egyptian princess Nefratis. After her tomb is desecrated and artifacts from it are smuggled into California from the expedition's sole survivor, John Banning (David Pearson), Nefratis (now in the sexy revived form of Michelle Bauer) heads to the streets of L.A., uses a golden scarab to turn Banning into her loyal slave and then kills anyone who gets in the way of retrieving her stolen goods. Ray's loose adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Jewel of the Seven Stars" sounds like it should be a load of B-movie fun, and it has a cast that screams B-movie fun (more on that later), and it really, really tries to be B-movie fun, but it's from that early Ray filmmaking period before he started to embrace and work within his low-budget limitations in a more humorous and irreverent kind of way. In other words, this film seems like any other anonymously-directed horror exercise hampered by its low-budget limitations and lacking in a distinctive kind of humor and energy.
The film does have some comedy (though much misses the mark), gore (a ripped out heart, a decapitation, a beetle under the skin, etc.) and T&A (cue Russ Meyer film graduate Kitten Natividad as a stripper), but the tone and pacing both seem off, it's actually a bit dull and also hard to forgive its false ad campaign. Exploitation vets Cameron Mitchell (as a receiver of one of the artifacts), John Carradine (as an Egyptologist) and Sybil Danning (as a criminal) were very prominently featured in the trailer and on the video box, but each only appears in a cameo or smaller supporting role. Danning's scene (which opens the film) seems like it belongs in an entirely different movie, Carradine is only around for a single scene and Mitchell has the largest role, which clocks in at around ten or so minutes before he's killed. The real stars are exploitation queen Bauer (who has her first lead role in a horror film right here... and was unfortunately dubbed for some strange reason), Pearson (who goes by the name David O'Hara now), Richard Alan Hench (as the son of one of the victims) and Susan Stokey (who plays Mitchell's niece).
Dawn Wildsmith (who was married to the director around this time) shows up long enough to be pushed onto a bed of snakes while topless. Michael D. Sonye (the voice of the Imp in the legendary SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA) plays a waiter. A band decked out in Egyptian outfits (complete with dancing mummies) perform "Tutti Frutti" during a bar scene, and there's also a decent song called "Danger Boy" by Jeffrey Walton on the soundtrack. Oh well, at least they tried.


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