Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Tomb – review

Director: Fred Olen Ray

Release date: 1986

Contains spoilers

Good old Fred Olen Ray, he really is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to B movie madness. This time around we have vampires with an Egyptian theme… and John Carradine .

Now there is no shortage of vampire/Egyptian connections. Be it Mummy’s with vampiric tendencies, the backstory to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles or just the appropriation of the ankh into vampire lore. In this case it is less mummy more vampire.

David O'Hara as Banning
However the film starts with a jeep racing across the desert driven by tomb raider John Banning (David O'Hara) as a plane buzzes him. The plane lands and he meets the pilot, Jade (Sybil Danning, the Lair & Pale Blood). He hands over a bag, having first removed a bottle of beer – this becomes an on-running gag that he always has a handy bottle of beer, even if it is hidden in skimpy shorts. She is going to stiff him on payment for the artefact and kisses him to allow her gunmen to get into position – the script is good enough to have banning marvel at where they came from, sparing us the job. His guy Tyler (Craig Hamann) pops up with a gun and Banning gets away with the loot. The entire opening feels like an excuse to have Sybil Danning cameo.

the band
Cutting to a bar and a band sing Tutti Frutti. A waiter tries to suggest food and is dismissed by Banning, who calls him a rag-head. Given that Banning actually plays a fairly light role in the film as a whole there seemed, with hindsight, little reason to make him that detestable. Tyler comes in with a local, Youseff (Emmanuel Shipov), who has found a tomb and will lead them there for a price. There is a gag where Banning calls Tyler and himself gynaecologists rather than archaeologists – it was as unfunny as it sounds. They get to the tomb and it is undisturbed but unmarked and quiet bare. A statue of Bast is, depressingly, not gold under the paint.

emerging from her sarcophagus
There is, however, a sarcophagus – which Tyler is sure was not there when they arrived. Youssef tells the story of the illegitimate daughter of Ptolemy the Great, Nefratis (Michelle Bauer). She was said to be a Priestess of Set who maintained her magical powers by drinking blood and was buried alive in an unmarked tomb. Legend suggests if she was disturbed she would awaken. Banning nips out to bring the camels closer and Tyler follows (to suggest killing Youseff). Too late. A rather dishevelled Nefratis emerges from the tomb.

By the time Banning gets back into the tomb both the others are dead – a nice hole in Tyler’s neck – and there is a rather refreshed looking Nefratis. Banning shoots at her and runs. She doesn’t chase, she suggests she’ll be waiting for him when he stops running. Banning gets back to the US but he has troubles. US customs are after him as they suspect he has artefacts and he has sold the two pieces collected from the tomb (that he had on him when he ran) to two collectors. Add to that Nefratis who finds him and sticks a scarab beetle in his chest that will destroy his heart if he betrays her, you see she wants her artefacts back.

John Carradine
Why – well it is in the lore that things get sticky. Nefratis clearly became younger again when she drank Tyler’s blood. To look at she is a young woman, with fangs and wearing one glove – her magic hand has long talons and is a bit greyer in colour than her other skin. We know she is a blood drinker but expert Mr. Andoheb (John Carradine) suggests that she needs to make a sacrifice of a woman every 7th moon, from which she will steal the life-force and soul of the woman to make herself young (which makes one wonder how she became young again in the tomb). The artefacts are an essential part of the ritual.

unleashing the magic hand
Yet, despite the rubbish gags (mercifully few and far between), the fact that Banning is dislikeable and then side-tracked as the protagonist and that the lore is made up as it goes along, it would seem, this isn’t entirely terrible. It’s one of those rubbishy films that doesn’t offend, doesn’t challenge and probably sits better with a beer. A cameo by Kitten Natividad (Red Lips) necessitates moving part of the film into a strip joint and there isn’t much else to say. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Moon Cupcake said...

Hi Taliesin, do you accept requests? If you do, could you review the Cybersix cartoon or comic, and this Israeli tv show called split? Thanks.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Moon Cupcake, thanks for stopping by and commenting - always appreciated. I love to get suggestions and never knew that Cybersix was a vampire show.

Of course, being able to see these things is a big issue. Cybersix is on YouTube and so I will most definitely be looking at it - I can't promise timescale however.

The problem with Split - a series I was well aware of - if I've been unable to find it (or find it with English subs) in either its Israeli version or the Ukrainian remake. I'll keep an eye out of course :)

Any further suggestions, feel free to comment.