Before writing this review, I took a moment to reflect on my experiences as a father, and the morals which I hope to pass on to my 3-year-old son. As part of my contemplation I considered my response to a recent stand-off with the boy: “it wasn’t me daddy [who through my breakfast all over your laptop], it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex” – “Nathaniel”, I said calmly, “it is not ok to lie”.
Now whilst I wouldn’t consider myself a proper journalist by any stretch, I do feel an obligation to report the truth, and whilst a little exaggeration here and there for the sake of a pun or comedy value I could let slide, I feel that trust from our audience is far too important to us than to tell a massive porky for the reward of views or sales.
On this basis, before I begin this review proper, there is something I need to tell you about ‘American Mummy’…
If you have visions, as I did, of an old Egyptian guy, possibly sponsored by Andrex, terrified of shitty arseholes, running around killing people in the name of Ra, then you will be disappointed. Someone involved in this film’s release certainly has a broad definition of the term Mummy, and hell, as the film is set in New Mexico, its only just American!
The film, initially entitled ‘Aztec Blood’, unleashed on festivals in 2014 [edit: 09/06/2017 - The film was origionally entitled 'American Mummy' before the name change to 'Aztec Blood' - please see comments below], has finally found a new home on the ‘Wild Eye’ label. Its official synopsis “A graduate student on an archaeological dig in a desert performs a ritual on a mummy wearing a fearsome mask, awakening the blood-hungry spirit of Tezcalipoca, Lord of the Smoking Mirror” is thankfully a little more reflective of the films content. It is no surprise, with the impeding release of the ‘Mummy’ reboot that any film, no matter how tenuously linked to what could be construed as a Mummy would be touted as such, but still… the box art – it’s not so much misleading, as it is a full-on case for the trades descriptions act. Just to reiterate, there is no mummy anywhere close to this film, no tomb, no Egypt and no half-of-face-turning-to-sand special effects. Just a burial mask in a cave.
It is perhaps more important to stress that whilst, I jest (and I do jest – it has amused me more than offended me), I actually think that this film has been done a disservice through this manner of marketing as people purchasing on aesthetics alone will no doubt feel cheated, rather than enjoy a fairly average, and surprisingly gory little number, which would be better promoted as the ‘Aztec: Evil Dead-style-zombie-film’.
Indeed, what happens to our ill-fated characters is that the aforementioned graduate students does indeed (as was so eloquently reported on the back of the box) perform the aforementioned ritual, and what ensues is that one by one people are alive, killed by a zombie version of one of their mates, die, become a zombie, and so on. The acting is variable, from poor to average, the script is generic and the plot bumbles on at a varying pace as one might expect from a low-budget slasher of this ilk. The locations are, in contrast to the films other technical elements, quite interesting as the washed-out pallet of the New Mexico backdrop (assuming it was filmed on location) give the film its own identity. There is a fair amount of waffle in the first two acts with only brief amounts of full frontal to break up what was turning into something of a time sink.
However, what makes this movie a solid 2.5 out of 5 is that, despite the padding and somewhat iffy performances, the film contains some rather excellent kills scenes. You might have to work for them as the film doesn’t really get going until the 45-50-minute mark, but when the zombies, uh-hmm I mean accursed dead, come for their victims, a nice mixture of practical effects and over the top gruesome kills await. People are disembowelled and ripped apart, there are other more violent deaths, and whilst you won’t remember the characters names, never mind care, you will just be glad of their demise! It’s all shown on screen, in good lighting, in all its gratuitous glory.
Overall, it’s an amusing little title really and I honestly would go as far as to say I quite enjoyed it by the films conclusion; but I couldn’t really go as far as to say that it’s a ‘good’ film. The gore is good though, really good actually, so even if you were a horror fan duped by the misleading box-art I can’t imaging you feeling too short changed.