The Mummy And The Curse Of The Jackals
The Mummy And The Curse Of The Jackals (1969) has perhaps the shrewdest title in exploitation film history. Though it lacks the pizzazz of, say, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies, the former moniker on the marquee takes first prize for one simple reason: Just imagine how many marks saw the title in all capital letters and got suckered into the theater thinking they were getting a double feature out of the deal!
Today, of course, the patrons would probably file a class action suit against the entire mopix industry. But back before these here United States became the Litigation Nation, the understood rule of ticket purchases was "Ya pay your money, ya take your chances." And thus the folks behind Mum-Jack earned themselves a permanent position in the Grifters' Hall Of Fame (to which, incidentally, I can get you A-1 tickets at a discount price, Sport.)
I'm pleased to pronounce that the brilliance of this monster mash extends well beyond its title. For instance, in how many pictures do you see a mummy fighting a hairy beast outside a casino while real-life passersby can be clearly seen laughing at the spectacle? You won't find anything remotely along those lines in From Here To Eternity, A Streetcar Named Desire, High Noon or any of the (supposed) classics, I'll promise you that.
The second layer of the pic's brilliance lies in its casting. L-o-n-g-time M-O-M readers will recognize MCJ lead Anthony Eisley's name from my review of The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters, albeit most of that write-up was devoted to drooling over Mamie Van Doren before your narrator took a personal dislike to the massive-mammed Miss VD.
An equally endowed actress Mr. Manor does think the world of is Francine York, an "On Manor's Mind" official Hubba Hubba Honey and Eisley's costar in Doll Squad. Boobaphiles take note: in addition to fab Francine, Squad features the prominent profile of cult flick legend Tura Satana (Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!), and was directed by the infamous Ted V. Mikels--so it's got to be great!
<--Tura shakes it with bravura in Doll Squad.
Eisleymaniacs--and who among us isn't one?--should consider Mum-Jack the final third of Anthony's greatest hits trilogy. And while bandaged babe Marliza Pons ain't exactly corrosive on the corneas, it's Tony's male counterpart that makes this a keeper--John Carradine, junkfilm icon numero uno.
My fellow Roman-Atheists know this is the JC worthy of worship, not that hippie The Life Of Brian was loosely based upon. Never mind Kevin Bacon and that whole "six degrees of separation" riff. Carradine worked directly with half of Hollywood. In fact, MCJ was his seven-hundredth screen performance!!!
Sure, the man sired ditzy David Carradine; but he also brought more than enough compensatory joy to the planet by gracing the screen in such delights as The Bees, Frankenstein Island, Satanís Cheerleaders, The Sentinel, Myra Breckenridge and...well, far too many to list within this column's word limit. I insist you idolize the man, that's all there is to it.
(Incidentally, did you know racist Tinseltown gave young Dave the 'Kung Fu' series lead after rejecting BRUCE LEE?!? I wish I were kidding here.)
Mum-Jack production manager Chuck Alford phoned the Manor Mansion (Stately shamelessly bragged), and related an amusing anecdote demonstrating what a thorough professional John C was, and why so many have such fond memories of a man who would walk down Hollywood streets delivering Shakespearian soliloquies to whomever was within earshot.
Chuck picked John up at the airport, drove him to the hotel, handed Carradine the script and told JC he'd back in a few hours, should the elderly thesp wish to nap. Returning at the appointed time and driving to the set, Alford noticed Carradine had left the script behind. As one could imagine, this made Chuck very apprehensive.
Technician and actor arrive at the shoot, John takes his place, the director yells "Action," Chuck holds his breath and...JC nails every single line flawlessly in one take! Bear that in mind when you see a second-rate skit comic or schlub with a platinum CD perform dialogue in something longer than ten minutes, and consequently have the gall to suddenly bill himself as "an actor."
So how groovy's the movie itself? MCJ is one of those "better seen than described" affairs. Then again, Eisley, Carradine, an archeologist in love with a 4200-year-old Princess, a mummy killing a dancer during a Vegas production number and receiving an ovation, a cop-killing man-fox, a soundtrack with a sitar jam and late Sixties Farfisa organ rock, "Special Makeup" by an artist with a Creeping Terror credit, a cinematic achievement so special IT WAS NEVER RELEASED THEATRICALLY: What more do you need to know?
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