Saturday, November 03, 2007

REVIEW: Bruno Mattei's THE TOMB

Bruno Mattei, rest his soul, could always be counted on to provide me with some inspired (if micro-budgeted) horror efforts, whether it's the zombie mayhem of NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, the post-apoc hijinks of RATS: A NIGHT OF TERROR, or even his ZOMBIE 3 mop-up duty.

In other words, I was powerless when David Zuzelo of Tomb It May Concern informed me that THE TOMB was available on DVD and I could get my recommended dose of shot-on-video Mattei nonsense. This time, though, you can forget the zombies and giant rat people. This was Mattei's MUMMY-inspired Egyptian horror epic complete with human sacrifices, bleeding statues, smoke machines, more bald guys than you can shake a stick at, big-titted archeology students, and the director's trademark use (overuse?) of stock – and sometimes misappropriated – footage.

An ancient Egyptian human sacrifice plot gets foiled and the high priest at the center of the shenanigans is hauled into a chamber where a high priestess "gets him ready" for immortality thanks to the most horrific and gruesome embalming practice they've got going.

Fast forward to the present where Professor Langley and his students have arrived to search for the ancient temple seen in the flick's opening. (Like CREATURE FROM THE HILLBILLY LAGOON, the professor appears to be almost the same age as the students he's in charge of.) Not surprisingly, nobody has been able to find the temple despite thousands of years of searching and – in one of the cheesiest of all horror cliches – one of the students looks just like the gal they attempted to sacrifice all those years ago.

After their initial guide freaks out in a bar (thanks to some FROM DUSK TILL DAWN-inspired monster stripper action), runs in to a cemetery and gets accosted by skeleton footage shamelessly lifted from Sam Raimi's ARMY OF DARKNESS, the professor and his crew are forced to use a creepy local healer to help them find the temple.

It won't come as much of a surprise that they miraculously find the temple, that the students begin getting picked off in a series of "accidents", or that their arrival just so happens to coincide with the exact date the evil priestess from the opening is supposed to rise from the dead.

A little heavy on "aftermath" effects and short on real gore moments, THE TOMB does feature death by tunnel trap, the old spider-out-of-the-mouth gag, undead drummers, reanimated high priests, and enough footage lifted from other movies that it eventually stops being comical and starts approaching criminal. Oddly enough, one student is even saddled with a bizarre drug use backstory that's introduced – and never comes up again.

Between the crappy shot-on-video look and the big-titted actress playing Maria, I kept waiting for somebody to whip their dick out and start fucking them some archeology students. Alas, there's no nudity despite ample opportunity for Mattei to pile on some flesh with the gore.

While I've certainly seen – and enjoyed – worse nonsense than this, it takes a good deal of effort to get to THE TOMB'S handful of enjoyable moments. Skip this one and watch the classic NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES again or maybe track down Mattei's crazy looking LAND OF DEATH.

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