Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (1969)

How bad is it? It's among the worst-made films available.

Should you see it? It's only available on cassette in a murky print, but if that's your thing, sure. It looks like it was filmed in Super-8, so even a clean print wouldn't be great.

This is about the best photo I can find from this movie.

You can learn a lot about movie-making from bad films; I learned blocking scenes from "The Giant Gila Monster," for example. "Mummy/Jackals" shows how long-range shots are filmed before two-shots or close-ups - because this movie used whatever footage they had when they ran out of funds and a lot of it is done solely in long shots.

The plot has an Egyptian goddess that carries a curse for whoever spends a night with her. Of course, someone has to do it. The goddess comes to life... and passes herself off as a low rent Vegas showgirl, for reasons not adequately explained, and she comes complete with a fat mummy with one bulging eye (that switches sides at one point). A guy gets turned into a were-jackal, with special effects that are rock bottom. John Carradine says he can solve the problem on the next full moon - and then doesn't show up again. [He also doesn't move. I like seeing how directors worked around his arthritis problems.] There's a dinner scene where a woman says she's going to make a call - and then never comes back and no one comments on it. There's a chase scene filmed on the Vegas strip, where people stare into the camera and laugh at the actors. Finally, the Mummy and Were-jackal drown in a hasty ending that leaves so many hanging threads it gives new meaning to "fringe film."

The music is actually pretty good, except that there's only a couple of minutes of it and it gets reused repeatedly. Some of the acting isn't terrible. I'm stretching to find something nice to say... this is wretched. Reportedly filmed in 1967, they ran out of money and couldn't finish the project (I'm guessing someone saw rushes that involved the Vegas strip scene and backed out), but had been contractually obligated to supply a film and did the best they could with what they had. The film then sat unseen until it got a brief release on videotape and has since all but disappeared.

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