Well, we’re back with number two of RETRO 13, and it’s a PART 2, which is DAWN OF THE MUMMY PART 2, which is also called WRATH OF THE UNDEAD, which should be just confusing enough to melt your brain a little. But we all need our brains melted sometimes. CLICK THE ABOVE IMAGE to find out more and see the full poster, only at DREAD CENTRAL.
This week’s offering is actually inspired by CLASSIC POSTER ART, rather than the film itself. It’s a sort of mash-up between THE GATES OF HELL and DAWN OF THE MUMMY. I really love those posters and I wanted to try my own take on them. GATES ( for all two of you who don’t know) was an Italian zombie ghost story flick directed by Lucio Fulci, unleashed in America in 1980 by a notorious outfit called Motion Picture Marketing. These were front-runners in the sleazy horror/exploitation scene, who also released the classics FINAL EXAM and MAUSOLEUM. They were shameless hard-sell artists, known for hurriedly-produced, eye-catching posters. GATES was originally titled CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (as it is now mostly known on video), but MPM had other ideas. After a moderately successful run in theaters as THE GATES OF HELL (which I never really understood, because suddenly there’s not dead people in the title at all), they put it back out in 1983 as TWILIGHT OF THE DEAD, to really cash in on the Romero craze. Within days of announcing their “new” movie in Variety, they were served with a cease-and-desist notice by DAWN OF THE DEAD’s equally notorious producer Richard P. Rubenstein, and the posters were pulled. (Same poster image pictured below, just with a new title.) Bouncing back fast from that, Motion Picture Marketing acquired the rights to another Italian undead epic in 1984—Bruno Mattei’s NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES (called many other things depending on where else in the world you saw it)—and even managed to rip themselves off by instructing their artist to use a suciciously similar central zombie face in the poster.
Exhibit A: THE GATES OF HELL
Exhibit B: NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES
This sort of shameless mix and match of art and titles and sleazebag marketing is the thing I truly love most about exploitation films—horror being among my favorite genres, of course, because zombies are just so much fun to look at on your wall—and I champion that ideal not only here, but in great shameless detail in my book SHOCK FESTIVAL. (If you don’t have a copy, WHY ARE YOU READING THIS? TO AMAZON WITH YOU!) For the RETRO 13 “sequel” to MUMMY, I decided to use the same recycled zombie face from the Motion Picture Marketing zombie mashup as inspiration for an all new zombie, which rises from the earth, DAWN OF THE MUMMY-style.
EXHIBIT M: DAWN OF THE MUMMY
Hope you’ve enjoyed my weird experiment. Again, CLICK ANY OF THE ABOVE IMAGES to see my final poster of DAWN OF THE MUMMY PART 2: WRATH OF THE UNDEAD!
The “original” film itself is a fairly rough ride, but there are some truly surreal character moments and even a few nifty grossouts. Contrary to a lot of popular belief, this was an American-based production mounted out of Los Angeles, shot mostly on location in Egypt. (They even had translators on set for the English-and-Itailian-speaking crew!) The film’s LA producer-director, Frank Agrama, was formerly a native Egyptian (first name originally Farouk) who knew the ins and outs of the country and was able to secure the “exotic” locations needed and organize the production on his former home turf. The producer/director’s attention was so centered on the pyramids of Egypt that several days of shooting in the US eventually fell through and had to be relegated to a single voice-over in a bridging shot of an airplane in flight, with the remaining scenes in the “exotic locale” left to carry the entire story. As I mentioned at Dread Central, this has a rather weird final effect in the film: The entire extended opening credits—replete with an absolutely awesome disco theme—sets up a whole first act in New York, but the film instantly returns to the pyramids. Ironically, this also ends up giving the film a resemblance to Italian stuff like CANNIBAL FEROX, which have similarly brief openings in NYC, before plunging into the jungle or wherever. For years, in fact, DAWN OF THE MUMMY was thought to be an Italian zombie film. Which is fairly understandable if you happen to watch the thing. It’s at Amazon Prime for free. It’s also on DVD and VHS. Be brave.
Like other members of the MUMMY team, Frank Agrama went on to cartoons and animation, most notably the Americanized ROBOTECH series, which became a smash it in America in the 80s and 90s. The soundtrack for DAWN OF THE MUMMY was released in America on Vinyl. It is almost impossible to find anywhere. If somebody has this album, I will trade a part of my body for it. Seriously.
Next week . . . the consequences of RAISING HELL . . . without Pinhead.