Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A fun horror comedy undeserving of the scorn heaped upon it

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)
Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marie Windsor, and Eddie Parker
Director: Charles Lamont
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Abbott and Costello (Abbott and Costello) are a pair of down-on-their luck adventurer who try to get a job escorting an an archeological shipment as their ticket back to the US from Cairo. However, before they secure the job, the archeologist is murdered, the most important part of his find goes missing--the mummy Klaris--and Costello ends up with an ancient medallion that is the key to unlocking a lost treasure. Soon, the hapless pair are the the targets of every shady character in Cairo, including rabid cultists sworn to protect the treasure, a dangerous femme fatale (Windsor) who will do anything to possess it, and even the risen mummy himself (Parker).

I don't think "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" deserves quite the level of scorn that most reviewers seem to heap on it. While Abbott and Costello certainly aren't at their best in it, it is a very amusing spoof of the string of mummy movies from Universal--and those films that would follow when the British studio Hammer returned to that same oasis a few years later--and it's got plenty of hilarious moments. (The "pick-pocket routine" where Costello visits the villainess in her den, the chase scene in the secret hideout of the mummy cultists, and the various bits with the multiple mummies at the movies climax are all comedic highpoints that should evoke chuckles from even the most jaded viewers.)

The film is far from perfect, however. I already mentioned that Abbott and Costello aren't exactly at their best in this film--which was, in fact, one of the last times they worked together--and an attempt to reinvent the classic "who's on first" routine with some digging impliments is about as uninspired as I think the pair's work ever got. Finally, the mummy costume in the film is about the worst that I've ever seen--and not at all worthy of even the cheapest film from Universal Pictures.

I recommend "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" to lovers of the classic monster movies who have a sense of humor about them, as well as fans of classic comedy. There are better examples of this type of film out there, but this one still has enough good bits to make it worth seeing.

 An interesting quirk about this movie is that while Abbott and Costello are listed in the credits as playing characters named Pete and Freddie, they refer to each other by their real names throughout the piece.

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