Pictures. 101 minutes.
Matthew Corbeck: Charlton Heston
Assistant Jane Turner: Susannah York
Wife Anne: Jill Townsend
Daughter Margaret: Stephanie Zimbalist
Paul: Patrick Drury
Dr. Khalid: Bruce Myers
Dr. El Sadek: Nadim Sawalha
Dr. Kadira: Miriam Margolyes
Dr. Richler: Ian McDiarmid
Yussef: Ahmed Osman
Co-Produced: Andrew Scheinman, Martin Shafer
Produced: Robert Solo
Associate Producer: Harry Benn
Directed: Mike Newell
Screenplay: Allan Scott, Chris Bryant, Clive Exton
Music: Claude Bolling.
opening music accompanies watery Egyptian scenes and art. (Then
again, it's easy enough to sound "Egyptian" with an
out-of-tune oboe and unpredictable chromaticism.) The movie is
very promising: the opening line, after we're told vaguely "18
years ago," is "Gin and tonic, then?"
Pregnant wife Annie is bitchy about her husband,
Matthew Corbeck, spending so much time on his job, and with Jane
his assistant, trying to discover a nameless lost queen of Egypt,
as postulated by a 17th-century Dutchman, Van Horn. She's "trying
to grab the attention of a man who's haunted by the dead."
Corbeck and assistant find a tomb and a curse in hieroglyphics:
"Beware the man who comes from northern skies," as "the
nameless one" must not be allowed to live again. As they bash into
his wife has pangs of the womb.
The still-pregnant wife lapses into a coma.
He goes back to the dig. She screams simultaneous to his entry
into the tomb. A bloody dead baby comes alive when Corbeck opens
the sarcophagus of Kara. The mummy's hand is disturbingly supple.
"I thought I'd be so happy," says
the distraught wife on seeing the baby, and blames her husband
for not being there. At the dig, an Egyptian antiquities official
confronts Corbeck and soon loses his life when a rope catches
him and he falls to his bloody death. A museum official offers
Corbeck an ankh for his daughter, but his wife and baby have fled.
"The Present": an eclipse eighteen years
later has odd effects on artifacts. A bearded Professor Corbeck is
visited by someone saying that decay has set in among his discoveries. He
wants to return to Egypt.
The Remington Steele girl likes the
seal at the zoo but not the hyena. She mysteriously senses a need
to go to England to visit her father. Mom is bitchy about the
guy "deserting" them for his new wife, former assistant Jane.
On the way to the airport, assistant/new wife
who is driving says, "I wish that Triumph would get off my
tail." Matthew goes to Egypt, and about Kara says, "I'd
how lovely she was." A bacteriologist wants "to cut
the flesh itself," but quickly is hit by a car. Kara will
go to England.
Daughter Margaret intrudes upon daddy's Egyptological
lecture: "sensing the ordered rhythm of life, death, rebirth."
A happy uniting and "it's time you two met" (Discovery,
meet Daughter; Daughter, Discovery), followed by dinner conversation
about Kara having died at 18. "The nameless one must be forever
alone." All references to her were destroyed due to her vengeance
against her father for killing her lover and marrying her himself.
Incest may have been common, but only among the pharaohs. She
had a block dropped on her father and killed thousands of people
who had spoken to him. Kara also spread the rumor that she could
reincarnate herself through a ritual. If only we had the jars
and the seven-starred jewel. Weirdness pervades the dinner.
We hear that the mummy's jarred viscera were
not found. Paul, from the department, pops in and later calls
Margaret for a date. Daddy's jealous. At a microbiological moment,
Paul recognizes a virus and says the mummy should go back to Egypt.
Matthew pitches a fit. He raves about Egypt, and Margaret hasn't
"seen it, tasted the place." So it's a date, Daddy!
New wife frets.
In the tomb, Margaret seems possessed in talking
about marrying/hating Daddy. An assistant, Yussef, is killed in a
room, but we discover the organ jars and smuggle them back to
Egypt. Jane realizes Matthew's obsession with trying the ritual.
He intones: "Is there a child on earth who doesn't believe
in magic? I don't. I don't. We're rational. We're civilized. We
know the limits of nature. We know. Or are we just afraid to test
our certainty, our holy scientific certainty, against that ancient
queen's belief in magic?"
A mathematical expert calculates the coincidences
between 1800 BC and now, what with Ursa Major (of the seven stars)
having come full circle and all. Matthew calls Jane and tells
her to get a secret key to the safe and destroy the jars. She
tries, but light bulbs blow, there's freaky noise, artifacts intimidate,
it's windy, she goes onto the balcony and falls to paralysis.
She sees a shard dangle before it pierces her throat.
At the funeral, Paul says she was frightened.
Margaret, in a state, seems to make sleeping bloody daddy try
to open the safe with the jars. The next day when the doctor visits
daddy, she admits to Paul, "I was in the house when Jane
died.... I don't feel like myself anymore." After a mirror
trauma, she sees a shrink who advises her to go to a clinic. She
has a fit about daddy and attacks the doctor, who falls on his
Mom's in a cab. Margaret's hooked up, comatose
in a hospital. Paul blames Matthew's obsession for Margaret's
mental state. Matthew insists that Kara is forcing his hand.
Margaret telepathically whispers "Help
me" to daddy. He begins the ritual, but maybe Paul will come
to the rescue. Matthew invokes Anubis and Osiris and pours his
own wrist blood into fires. With Margaret present now, he cuts
open the bandages to reveal Kara's skeleton. "May Anubis
take away my eyes. Open thine." But he doubts this will work:
"There's nothing there." He begins 'awakening,' realizing
that the mummy won't rise but that his daughter is the reincarnation.
He batters and tears at the corpse. Margaret suddenly sprouts
Cleopatra make-up and hisses. Daddy is killed under a collapse
of stone blocks as he realizes the horror. We last see her vicious
The film claims to be based on Bram Stoker's The Jewel of the
Seven Stars. Okay. But the real value of this film is the
use of mummy material to explore the incestuous daddy obsession
with daughter. Matthew wants a stasis, represented well by mummification.
Yet he has obsessive urges towards any woman but his wives: a
corpse from 1800 BC and a daughter he's never seen until she's
18. The film involves supernatural forces, not really an incarnated
mummy, but is good horror due to the nature of the "awakenings"
involved -- awakenings not of Egyptian corpses, but of psychologies,
awakenings to the horror of standard sick family relationships.