Mummy An' The Armadillo DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Hart Sharp Video
Written and directed by JS Cardone
2004, Region 1 (NTSC), 100 Minutes, Rated R
DVD released on August 9th, 2005
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe
A rain storm along the famous Route 66 sends weary traveller, Sarah, to seek shelter at a small road side cafe. Out in the middle of nowhere, this is no ordinary diner, this is one that features roadside attractions like a real life mummy, and a stuffed armadillo. And a whole lot of crazy people.
As the night progresses, so does the weirdness. Finding herself literally tied up because of a misunderstanding, Sarah becomes an unwilling witness to the lives and drama of an endless stream of local yokels coming in and out of the cafe. It's bad enough that the other patrons seem apathetic to Sarah's situation; it is unbearable when the family that owns the diner becomes increasingly violent towards her. What do they have in mind for poor Sarah?
This is not just another roadside attraction...
Mummy An' The Armadillo is a straight ahead thriller that never lets up. It started life as a play, and writer/director Cardone has done a great job of adapting it for the small screen. Keeping its form from the play, most of the action takes place on a single set of the diner. Keeping the movie in the confined space helps to increase the tension, and gives the viewer a sense of Sarah's dire predicament. The audience does not watch this from the third person, we are there, we are involved and we are helpless.
If you find yourself wondering why the cast looks so familiar, it's because they should be. Made up almost entirely of young or retired TV actors, Mummy does not lack talent. It's a veritable who's who of syndicated reruns. Leading the pack is Clare Kramer (super villain Glory from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). Kramer does a great job maintaining and then upping her fright factor as the situation gets more and more helpless. She plays the hapless victim well, and sets the tone of the movie. Also adding their talents are Busy Philipps ("Dawson's Creek", "Freaks and Geeks"), Betty Buckley ("Eight is Enough"), and Lori Heuring (Mulholland Dr., "Alias").
While this is not a horror movie in the classical sense, it is a Grade A thriller with a character driven storyline that would make Hitchcock jealous. The tension starts immediately and doesn't let up until the very end. Mummy is not for everyone. It's got a slower pace than most horror/thrillers, and like a play, you have to allow each character to tell their story in their own time. If you are looking for fast paced action, look elsewhere.
If you are looking for 100 minutes of good thrilling fun, then Mummy is a solid flick with a an intriguing story and a talented group of actors.
Video and Audio:
Video quality on this release leaves much to be desired. Darker scenes have heavy macroblocking, and reds tend to bleed. While it's 1.85:1 (wide) aspect ratio, it's not an anamorphic transfer. The movie is still very watchable, but in this day and age it is annoying to see little or no regard given to proper DVD presentation, especially on a straight to DVD movie.
With a rich 5.1 DD soundtrack, Mummy is clear, crisp, and very warm. Unlike a lot of small movies, the 5.1 will give all of your speakers a workout. Doors slam off screen, a lonely country jukebox serenades you from the surrounds, and screams follow the victim across your viewing room. This is one of the best mixes I've heard, regardless of budget.
The only extras on the disc are a trailer for the movie and a 10 minute long behind the scenes featurette. The featurette is interesting to a point, but does not shed a lot of light on the movie. A lot of it seems to be just showing clips from the movie, or watching actors off stage watching clips of the movie.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, Pioneer 5.1 DD/DTS receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)
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