Gentlemen, I’m glad you’ve brought your cumberbuns. Ladies, those “special occasion” broaches look awfully nice. The needle has just hit vinyl on Shoji Yokouchi’s Romantic Latin Guitar LP. Now that we’re all ready to relax, I’ll crack open this bottle of Absolut Surrealism, manufactured with great three-fingered care by Mr. Jackal-Man in Las Vegas, NV. Let’s spread some love.
A prolific veteran of 40s b-westerns, director Oliver Drake was approaching his seventies when he decided to helm his first monster film, The Mummy And The Curse Of The Jackal. It was never released to theaters. That’s a nice piece of useless trivia, but trust me, there’s a point. Star Anthony Eisley, veteran junkmeister of such amazements as Dracula Vs. Frankenstein and The Mighty Gorga had a few things to say about Drake in Tom Weaver’s Interviews With B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: “The director was quite senile at the time — the absolute epitome of total confusion.” If being an old fart allows you to concoct a plotless hallucination of surf instrumentals, next door neighbor monsters, and home enthusiast film skills, I can’t wait to get old.
Welcome to Las Vegas! Mr. Eisley plays an archaeologist named David, who seems to have rounded up a couple of mummies. The best place to store such priceless finds? Of course! A shit-hole shack, complete with crumbling walls and Halloween cobwebs. David goes to sleep on a dirty cot and at midnight, he inexplicably morphs into unsettling Jackal-Man. It’s the curse of Princess Acanda! Both mummies come to life and what follows next will set your heart on fire. A mummy (complete with a bulging eye that looks like a ping pong ball), attacks strippers on stage, then walks through a wall. Real life vacationers point and laugh as our monsters run rampant on the Vegas strip. John Carradine pops in for a hopeless four minute cameo; “I can tell from the mold accumulation that this casket is 4,000 years old!” Eisley teaches the speech-impaired Princess how to put on a bra. Our two monstrous titans battle it out in the middle of a lake for a minute or so. There’s even a little fake blood and a tongue-ripping scene.
Would you expect anything less from a film that recycled monster masks and sets from Dracula, The Dirty Old Man? An equal dose of home movie flabbergast and somebody-please-kill-me monotony, Mummy is a must-see study in inexplicable stupidity. This is not the warped, DIY enthusiasm of Nathan Schiff or Donn Davison. Oliver Drake’s senility was clearly uncontrollable. For better or worse, the film reflects that fact entirely, as it flails off in unexplained directions, focuses on monsters running in place, and banks on camera set-ups that make no sense. How many more close-ups can we possibly get of the Jackal-Man’s snout? At the same time, the surf-library-sitar-bongo instrumentals lull you to nightmare limbo, where transformation footage is endlessly repeated and padding flashbacks to someone’s living room rule the roost.
Crafted with all the charm of a twelve year old’s Super 8 experiment, The Mummy And The Curse Of The Jackal is heaven on Earth for lovers of warped 1960s monster cinema. In this situation, every faux paux is a celebration, especially if your tastes run low. I was uniformly bowled over by laughs, bad film sorcery, and complete puzzlement. Mummy is a monster rally on milk money, a surreal slice of curdled, less-than-dirt-cheap cinema that proves that getting old isn’t always a bad thing.