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Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)

Review

Author
Date
02-05-2008
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Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy
Runtime
79 minutes
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Cast and Crew
Director
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You don't get films like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's horror classics nowadays. There's no Tenacious D Versus The Living Dead or Stiller and Wilson Meet Jason Voorhees. The closest we come to comedy troupe is Broken Lizard's Club Dread, and that is a far cry from Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. However, the sad truth is that Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy is even less like a great Abbott and Costello horror comedy than Club Dread.

The plot, what little there is, sees Peter Patterson (Bud) and Freddie Franklin (Lou) as Americans stranded in Egypt. They get caught up in a muggy plot where some criminals, led by a beautiful woman, and a mummy cult are both after a certain medallion. A medallion that Peter and Freddie just happen to have found. They do their bumbling best to come out on top, dealing with criminals and cultists and a genuine living mummy. I wish I could say that hilarity ensues. Sadly, it doesn't.

Meet the Mummy is the second to last film Bud and Lou ever did together, and it shows. Their chemistry is nearly nonexistent, two aged comedians going through the motions rather than working their magic. There is no bigger nail in this coffin (or should I say sarcophagus?) than the fact they don't even bother to call each other by their character names. They're constantly calling each other by their real names, as if they just don't care about what they're doing anymore. Their patter is weak, and only two comedy sequences actually bring any genuine mirth. One is a pale imitation of their 'Who's on First' routine with picks and shovels, while the other is a simple bit of humorous switcheroo with the medallion. These scenes do not, however, redeem the rest of the film. It's merely a sad reminder of how, at one time, these two men were amazing. Look at where they are now.

I want my mummy! But which one?

Bud and Lou aren't merely past their prime. They're past their expiration date. They move across the screen like they're following stage directions, their lines delivered with little inflection. It's a total shame. Amazingly, however, their performance isn't the worst in the film. That dubious honor belongs to Richard Deacon as Semu, the inexplicably Caucasian leader of the cult of the mummy Klaris. While Richard is a comedic genius six years later as Mel Cooley in the Dick Van Dyke show, it really doesn't show here. Maybe it's just from having such an awful script to work from, but his lines are worse than stale, the delivery utterly bland, and he's not interesting at all as a villain. He certainly isn't funny.

The choice of main villain for this film is also sadly apt. A decrepit relic of the past that lurches with little intelligence, the mummy is analogous to the movie itself. It seems fitting that that revived corpse is named Klaris, as opposed to the Kharis of previous Universal mummy films. Eddie Parker may have stunt-doubled in earlier films under the role, but here he just shambles, doing absolutely nothing of interest or even noteworthy. The mummy part seems almost tacked on to the film, like they needed a gimmick and just added one at the last minute. There's no sense to the horror, no sense to there being a mummy, no sense to why this film even exists.

Let's face it. You don't want to see this film. No one in the world wants to see this film. It's worse than bad, it's painful. You're actually better off watching Club Dread than this film. You're better off attempting a home appendectomy than watching this film. Consider this an intervention: friends don't let friends watch Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.

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