An alarmingly familiar and alarmingly shoddy production comes to us fresh from The Asylum this month.
So what we have here is the story of a mummy brought back to life. And before you start screaming horrified cries of “What, you mean EXACTLY THE SAME WAY AS A DOZEN OTHER MUMMY MOVIES THAT START EXACTLY LIKE THIS?”, well…um….
Okay, I’m sorry. There really IS nothing new here. If it weren’t for Billy Peltzer from Gremlins and Earth President Clark from Babylon 5 showing up, and a few million dollars being missing from the budget, and the mummy being a hot chick this time around, yes, it would be almost EXACTLY like “The Mummy.”
And yes, I know that’s a little blithe, but let’s make the head-to-head comparison between the two.
The Mummy: Im-Ho-Tep, priest of Ra, returns from the dead to resurrect his former love, Anuck-Su-Namun, and parenthetically conquer the world.
Legion of the Dead: Aneh-Tet, priestess of Set, returns from the dead somewhere in America for reasons that are as mind-alteringly ludicrous as they are comical to conquer the world in revenge for her banishment several thousand years back.
The Mummy: Hot young librarian chick and adventurous former soldier rogue take on the mummy.
Legion of the Dead: Hot young archeologist chick and roguish but vaguely geeky student love interest take on the mummy.
The Mummy: Loads of traps.
Legion of the Dead: Ditto.
The Mummy: Im-Ho-Tep has peeled skin special effects on his face.
Legion of the Dead: So does Aneh-Tet, at least for a while.
The Mummy: There’s one weasely little bastard schmuck who sells out humanity to the mummy for his own gain.
Legion of the Dead: Not surprisingly, same here.
Plus, there’s also a guy down here with an accent and an Indiana Jones fedora who’s also a professor, same as Indy. We even get treated to a thunderstorm sequence during the mummy’s reanimation in the same fashion as Chucky’s whenever he started up the Damballa chant back in the endless stream of Child’s Play sequels. How much else can we possibly knock off before we pack it in for the day?
Now, I admit…I did enjoy “The Mummy.” It had a lot of impressive action sequences and good quality effects. But “Legion of the Dead” is a watered-down, washed-out ripoff. Even worse, it’s a SERIES of ripoffs. It’s one giant string of ripoffs.
Then, as the mummy emerges nude from the tomb twenty six minutes in, by twenty eight minutes in she’s managed to kill two guys AND make herself a skirt. Talk about your amazing homemakers…it’s like Martha Stewart: The Evil Egyptian Version.
And just before the forty eight minute mark, Aneh-Tet proves conclusively that we guys are total freaking morons. We WILL follow any reasonably attractive chick’s clothing through the woods until we find who’s on the other end of the clothing trail as long as we don’t actually KNOW our faces will get melted off when said attractive chick is straddling us.
And a few guys would even consider that a good tradeoff.
Perhaps the biggest evil perpetrated on the viewing public by “Legion of the Dead” is that the only names credited on the box art are those of Bruce Boxleitner and Zach Galligan. Yet the two of them aren’t in the movie for more than ten minutes of screen time put together.
The ending is one giant logic puzzle after another. For instance:
1. Half a dozen mummies walking around in rotted cloth bandages…not ONE PERSON thinks of pulling out a Zippo.
2. One hour, three minutes, fifty four seconds. Pause and frame advance and watch the mummy’s hand go into a perfectly formed rip in a layer of cloth that’s actually slighly larger than his hand. That slit was not there before, and if he had made that hole by punching through a person’s chest, well, the hole wouldn’t be larger than the hand until AFTER he pulled out the heart. Way to botch a special effects job by making it so incredibly obvious to anyone who’s paying attention.
3. They’re strong enough to punch through a human and pull out hearts and spines alike, but they can’t remove a pool skimmer from their own chests despite the fact that it’s pinning them to a door. That and it must either one dense pool skimmer shaft or one weak door for a human to throw one through a door.
4. Now…see if you can follow this chain of events at one hour, eight minutes and thirty three seconds. Sellout Professor chucks an axe, but doesn’t actually let go of it. In the interval, Hero Geeky Boy suddenly has an axe of his own (apparently the one Sellout Professor was planning to throw but never dead) and throws it back. There’s a small bloody furrow across the top of Sellout Professor’s head and the axe is imbedded in the wall behind him…at neck level with the professor.
Maybe it’s just nit picking, but for me, it’s just one more example of what’s so very wrong with this movie. The last twenty minutes are just fantastically awful.
The special features include a behind the scenes featurette, cast and crew commentary, audio options, and trailers for “Frankenstein”, “War of the Worlds”, “Hide and Creep”, “Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove” and “Legion of the Dead”.
All in all, if for some truly unfathomable reason, you want a badly diluted, horribly concluded, low budget version of a fairly decent movie, then “Legion of the Dead” is just what you’re looking for. Me, I can’t say I’m looking for anything of the sort.