Friday, March 31, 2023


[Note: For this review I watched both the 122-minute Theatrical Cut and the 142-minute Television Cut. Screenshots are from both versions, but mostly the Theatrical Cut.]

At the California Seismological Institute, a lowly graduate assistant comes up with some computations showing that a major earthquake is going to hit Los He tells his superiors, but they just won't listen. They just won’t listen! Oh god why? Why!? Oh, the humanity! Across town, construction engineer Charlton Heston is rumbling and grumbling about buildings not being built beyond the current codes. He’s also rumbling and grumbling on top a single mom while his old bag wife is at home faking suicide attempts and crying to her father…who’s also Charlton’s boss. Yikes. At the same time, there are multiple other pre-disaster stories going on, including Shaft riding a motorcycle; ex-child preacher Marjoe Gortner as a peeping tom stalking a pre-Dallas Victoria Principal; two nerds in an airplane having a boring conversation; George Kennedy as a LAPD cop getting shitfaced in a bar while Walter Matthau mumbles nearby.

For a mid-1970's disaster flick, EARTHQUAKE is mildly entertaining. I enjoyed the buildup and seeing what was going on in everybody lives. I especially enjoyed seeing Los Angeles in 1974. The earthquake itself looked great, but for whatever reason, the post-earthquake scenes were mostly snoozers. They sound promising on paper (flooding due to a busted dam, psycho soldier gunning down innocent civilians, workers trying to escape a wrecked skyscraper, etc.), but none of them really clicked with me.

Solid acting by a strong cast, good pace that slows as the film moves along, disappointing ending, impressive stunts, truly impressive matte paintings and models, animated blood, tons of vintage cars and fashions, Heston topless, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s hedge, an accidental motorcycle accident and a really weird set decoration where Victoria Principal has a photograph of her brother on her apartment wall…but the picture is a still from a previous scene in the movie! It brought to mind that brain-melting photograph in LADY TERMINATOR.

EARTHQUAKE is totally worth watching for vintage disaster movie fans, but others will probably find it dated and goofy.

Fun fact: you might be asking yourself how is the Theatrical Version 122 minutes and the TV Version 142 minutes long? Good question. EARTHQUAKE was originally released in the theaters in 1974 and then broadcast on NBC in 1976. They wanted to make it into a two-night “event”, but the film wasn’t long enough, so they added a few scenes that were previously deleted and then, in a truly bizarre turn of events, they filmed new scenes and added them into the movie to pad the runtime! Not only does this included new characters, but they even called back some of the original actors to film more scenes!

I’ve also read that in some television markets, the audio to the film was simulcast on a local radio station so you could really crank up the scenes of Ava Gardner and Charlton Heston fighting. And, I guess, the earthquake also.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

THE MUMMY (1999)

Egypt, 1290 BC. Pharaoh Set I discovers that his high priest Imhotep has been long-dicking his mistress Anck-su-namun. He gets really pissed off for about three seconds…until Anck-su-namun stabs him to death. At the same time, the Pharaoh’s royal guard, the Madjai, come busting in. Imhotep flees and Anck-su-namun kills herself with a knife. Shit happens and soon Imhotep himself is captured, while trying to resurrect Anck-su-namun. As punishment, he’s wrapped up like a mummy and buried alive. A few years later, in 1926, a nerd, Rachel Weisz, learns that local adventurer Brendan Fraser knows the secret location to the lost city of Hamunaptra. While traveling there together as a team they find that the body count of the film will be increased if they are joined with a second group of treasure hunters. All kinds of Indiana Jones-style adventures and wacky shit ensue.

Time has been kind to THE MUMMY. I originally saw it in the theater on opening weekend way back in ye olde 1999. I was wearing a Lords of Acid t-shirt; in case you were wondering and/or happen to be a time-traveler wanting to say hello. I remember enjoying it at the time. And every time I’ve seen it again over the years, I’ve always found myself caught up in the excitement and adventure of it all. Quick pace that never lets up, excellent casting, solid acting, dated special effects that still work out fine and give it a kinda campy look that actually benefits the film, strong direction.

I’m not sure that THE MUMMY will change your life or inspire any deep philosophical thoughts in yer noodle, but it is an excellent way to spend a few hours. Check it out.

Part 2 - The Mummy Returns(2001)
Part 3 - The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Prequel - The Scorpion King (2002)
Prequel Part 2 - The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)
Prequel Part 3 - The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)
Prequel Part 4 - The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)
Prequel Part 5 - The Scorpion King: Book of Souls (2018)