aka 7 Mummies
Director – Nick Quested, Screenplay – Thadd Turner, Producers – Ryan Johnson, Kevin Ragsdale & Thadd Turner, Photography – Patrick Loungway, Music – James Intveld & Michael R. Turner, Visual Effects – Metropolis Motion Picture Services (Supervisor – Rennie Johnson), Makeup Effects – Mark Bautista, Production Design – Mikal Hameed. Production Company – American World Pictures/Talmarc Productions/Pretty Dangerous Films/Seven Mummies Productions, LLC.
Billy Wirth (Travis), Cerina Vincent (Lacy), Matt Schulze (Rock), Billy Drago (Drake), Noel Gugliemi (Santos), Adrianne Palicki (Isabelle), Andrew Bryniarki (Blade), Max Perlich (Zeus), Danny Trejo (Apache), Martin Kove (Kile), Victor “Nore” Santeago (Wallet)
Six prisoners from the Arizona State Penitentiary make an escape from a prison transfer van. They flee into the desert with a female guard as hostage where they intend to head for the Mexican border. They come across an Apache Indian who tells them the story of how his people were used to dig for a hoard or cursed gold. The gold is reputed to lie in a town not far away that can only be seen when the days and the nights are as long as one another and is guarded by seven monks that live as undead mummies. The prisoners change direction to head for the town and are welcomed by the locals. However, as sundown comes, they find that the townspeople are all undead.
Seven Mummies is a conceptual oddity. Though the title gives the impression that it is a modern mummy film, what we have is a variant on the Western ghost town concept that we have seen in films like Ghost Town (1988), Phantom Town (1997) and Purgatory (1999). (I have a more detailed list of Western/genre crossovers here with my essay Weird Westerns).
Although far more than any of these, Seven Mummies has borrowed its central plot and set up from the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Both films start with a long extended getaway by criminals on the run from the forces of law and heading towards the Mexican border before the group inadvertently walks into a bar without realising that it is inhabited by undead (although it is hard to tell if what is attacking the party here are vampires, zombies or what). Even aside from that, Seven Mummies makes the From Dusk Till Dawn connection direct in the casting of Robert Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo (who also appeared as Razor Charlie in From Dusk).
The other film that one was reminded of was John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), which was notedly remade as The Fog (2005) the same time that Seven Mummies came out, with its group of zombified undead guarding a treasure of gold and killing all those who come near.
When I originally wrote this, Seven Mummies sat high on the Internet Movie Database’s Bottom 100 List. I must admit I didn’t find it that bad. At most, it seems a film that lacks anything remarkable. There is no particular plot, and the film never advances beyond the concept of characters running around an abandoned Western town pursued by undead, which takes up about 60 of the film’s 80 minutes running time. Even then the undead are vague – the seven mummies make a brief appearance at the end but it is never specified who the other undead in the town are. The most annoying aspect is that, despite the title, the seven mummies are largely irrelevant to the film.
Nick Quested’s direction has a basic competence, although there is never any point where he has us holding on in suspense or jumping out of our seats. There is a very silly climax where the mummies finally do turn up and Billy Wirth and Cerina Vincent take them on in a fight sequence where the mummies rather absurdly turn into martial artists (with Quested having imported several Hong Kong choreographers for the express purpose).
To the film’s benefit, it has a cast of familiar faces that it uses reasonably well. Billy Wirth, though not top-billed, is effectively the hero of the show and still has the impossibly handsome looks (at age 43) that he showed as a young actor. Billy Drago proves worthy of his reputation and paycheque by acting his head off in typical Drago style. Now ageing former action star Martin Kove also makes a brief appearance as a saloon owner.
Director Nick Quested and has elsewhere directed music video and documentaries. He is mostly a producer and the head of Goldcrest Films.