Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Mummy And The Curse Of The Jackals

THE MUMMY AND THE CURSE OF THE JACKALS is a totally whack low-budget chiller as dorky as the title indicates. Star Anthony Eisley, who had one helluva 1969 (he also made THE MIGHTY GORGA and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN that year, and it’s a tossup as to which of the three films is the worst), later claimed 66-year-old director Oliver Drake was senile.

Eisley, who was a handsome, competent, likable leading man who gained fame as a suave private eye opposite Robert Conrad in the HAWAIIAN EYE television series, is miscast as archeologist David Barrie, the unhinged discoverer of two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi in a plane crash outside Las Vegas. He drags them back to his shack, where he falls uncomfortably in love with the 4000-years-dead Princess Akanna (Marliza Pons), who comes back to life and strikes David with a curse that turns him into a were-jackal during a full moon.

While Eisley’s stunt double in a ridiculous hairy jackal head stumbles around Vegas killing cops (Eisley said he was supposed to play the Jackal-Man, but talked his stuntman into it, and the director never knew the difference), the other sarcophagus reveals a hilariously fat mummy that waddles around like Fred Sanford and kills a stripper. Unpaid extras laugh as the mummy wanders the streets of Las Vegas—probably not the reaction Drake intended. Eventually, the two monsters meet in a climactic surf showdown that had me wondering what those moth-eaten costumes must have smelled like when wet.

Oh yeah, John Carradine shows up (of course he does) for a day and a quick buck for no reason the plot requires. Produced by the shortlived Vega International Pictures, MUMMY was never released theatrically and, according to Eisley, never finished. It stunk up a vault someplace until Academy Home Entertainment put it out on VHS in 1985 in a cropped, squeezed, murky-looking print. Drake, who bounced around Hollywood for decades as a writer and director of B-westerns and LASSIE episodes, had penned THE MUMMY’S CURSE for Universal in the 1940s. He went on to direct two sex films before retiring.

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