Friday, October 30, 2015

Rigor Mortis

Rigor Mortis (2013)
Dir. Juno Mak
Written by Philip Yung, Jill Leung, Juno Mak
Starring Chin Siu-ho, Anthony Chan, Kara Hui, Lo Hoi-pang, Hee Ching Paw

Yesterday we saw John Fasano’s American tribute to the Hong Kong jiangshi or “Hopping Vampire” films of the mid-80s and early 90’s. Today we look at something completely different: Hong Kong’s modern tribute to the Hopping Vampire genre. Bizarrely, where the American version carefully (and mostly successfully) attempted to cultivate the goofy, Scooby-Doo tone of the original run of these movie, Hong Kong has been going in a different direction lately; the Tsui-Hark produced ERA OF THE VAMPIRE in 2002 brought a more serious tone to the genre (he made up for it with a goofy comedy version called VAMPIRE EFFECT the following year), but RIGOR MORTIS goes further still. It has many aspects of the original genre, including a Taoist exorcist, a hopping vampire, vengeful spirits, supernaturally-assisted martial arts battles, plenty of the specific trappings of this particular mythology (symbolic sticky notes which control the dead when placed on their forehead; glutinous rice which deters them), and even a roster composed heavily of the stars of these films. But in almost every way imaginable, it uses these details to evoke an entirely different style. Where MR. VAMPIRE and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND were colorful and broad, RIGOR MORTIS is grim, dark, and arty.

Set in modern times, this is the story of washed up actor Chin Siu-ho (Chin Siu-ho, star of the original MR. VAMPIRE, playing a fictionalized version of himself a la Van Damme in JCVD) moving into what has to be the most dismal, brutalist apartment complex this side of THE RAID. It honestly makes the one in DREDD look cheerful, at least those guys had drugs and a smattering of colors. Little surprise, then, that Chin tries to kill himself on his first night there -- only to be saved by bespectacled cook/ex-vampire hunter Yau (Anthony Chan, also of MR. VAMPIRE fame, and TWIN DRAGONS) at the last minute. Anytime you have a main character who almost dies at the beginning of the movie only to improbably be saved, you’re holding your breath the whole time for fear they’ll pull an Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge movie-negating twist on you, but fortunately it’s quickly made clear through the movie’s many impenetrable subplots that specific concrete explanations are so minor a concern for the film that it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Chin, still alive but just as depressed, quickly finds that his new digs are densely populated with eccentric characters and supernatural tomfoolery, particularly the two (count ‘em!) angry female spirits which haunt his apartment. He’d just like to sit around stewing over his lost wife and child, but there are just too many people around --living and dead-- who want something from him. Besides the spooks, you’ve got Auntie Mui (a terrific Hee Ching Paw, John Woo’s BULLET IN THE HEAD, Jet Li’s FEARLESS) and her soon-to-be-undead husband Tung (Richard Ng, numerous Jackie Chan movies), a mysterious sorcerer (Fat Chung, SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS, TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL*), a twitchy single mom (Kara Hui, DRAGON [2011]) and her creepy albino kid. Their intersecting stories and lives gradually weave together into an escalating mess of ghostly menace, and culminate in a wild, magic-fueled martial arts smackdown.

Considering the exotic weirdness and fetishistic, macabre detail director Juno Mak (actor, REVENGE: A LOVE STORY, apparently also a musician and fashion magnate) layers into the movie, it’s a surprise that RIGOR MORTIS is as much about offbeat drama and ambiguous dread as it is about horror. In fact, far from the goofy fun of the MR. VAMPIRE movies, the film it recalls most is the 2000 Korean minor masterpiece BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE by Bong Joon-Ho. Both stories are concerned with bleak apartment structures and the strange, dark characters lurking within, but they both get most of their real mileage out of the actors and a tone of moody, but darkly comic, strangeness. RIGOR MORTIS has a lot more explicit horror than BARKING DOGS does, but even so, the things that linger are the sharp characterizations of the actors and the melancholy but ominous ambiance. The script (by Mak, Philip Yung [AS THE LIGHTS GO OUT], and Lai-Yin [Jill] Leung [REVENGE: A LOVE STORY, the upcoming IP MAN 3) is limited, almost minimalistic, with some limited exposition, but mostly just the bare bones of a story, only enough structure to hang the details on. That leaves most of the heavy lifting to the actors, but that turns out to be the film’s most surprising advantage, since the cast is uniformly terrific. Chan and Paw in particular turn in heartfelt, nuanced performances which belie the simplicity of their narrative roles and create drama with some real heft. The script doesn’t really give us enough detail about Paw’s character Auntie Mui for us to understand why, exactly, she would think it was a good idea to resurrect her deceased husband as a jiangshi, but her haunted, crushing delivery conveys more about her loneliness and desperation than any speech could. Mak’s willingness to simply sit and watch an actor’s face as he gratefully sucks a cigarette or contemplates a sizzling cooking pot adds texture and impact in the gaps between scripted lines.

Mak matches his strong cast with beautiful, sometimes downright flashy visuals which turn even the gray palette into something sharp and evocative (it’s nearly a black-and-white film, save a few flashes of expressionistic red lighting). It’s a startlingly impressive look for a first-time director, and the way in which he delicately weaves quiet comedy, dark drama, disturbing horror, and flashy action is rather miraculous in its ambition and its success. It’s hardly unusual for an East Asian film to sport multiple genres, but Mak corrals them more elegantly and blends them more effectively than many of his peers, especially when it comes to Chinese horror. While I can’t really argue with critics who find the film intellectually a bit hollow, I’m honestly baffled that anyone would complain about such a bounty of goods. I’m probably not familiar enough with the jiangshi genre to get all the meta-jokes which are obviously part of this, but honestly that seems like the least interesting aspect of this production anyway, more of a bittersweet tribute than a reason for its existence. Maybe it started out as a salute to this mostly-departed genre, but the finished product probably has as much in common with the J-horror cycle of the early 2000’s (particularly since Japanese horror maestro Takashi Shimizu [TOMIE: REBIRTH, THE GRUDGE, the interesting-sounding TORMENTED] co-produced along with Mak) as it does with the original jiangshi craze. Really, though, its greatness is a product of its own design more than it is a function of its inspirations. Co-produced by a Japanese auteur, directed by a Hong Kong actor/singer/fashion designer, and ostensibly paying tribute to a decades-old regional horror subgenre, it ends up feeling like none of them particularly. But it’s quite a promising start for a new kind of thing.

The jiangshi genre may have spent the last decades more or less resting in peace, but as these movies have taught us, you can always count on someone new to come along and try to revive the dead. If a new generation of artists can be as flexible and imaginative with these tropes Mak’s film is, I’d say rigor mortis hasn’t set in quite yet.

*And, huh, looks like he played Sherlock Holmes in a movie called THE RETURN OF THE POM POM? That sounds unusual.


Play it Again, Samhain

  • TAGLINE: None to speak of
  • SEQUEL: No
  • REMAKE: No, although obviously inspired by films like the MR. VAMPIRE and SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS series.
  • BELOVED HORROR ICON: As far as Chinese horror goes, Chin Sui-Ho and Anthony Chan definitely count.
  • BOOBIES: None
  • MULLETS: None
  • DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Pretty sure someone loses an arm. It gets twisted completely around, I don't remember if it actually comes off or not but that sucker ain't goin' back the way it was, I can tell you that.
  • HAUNTED HOUSE: Yes, Haunted Apartment/ Apartment Complex
  • THE UNDEAD: Two ghosts and a vampire, at least
  • POSSESSION: Yeah, the ghosts really want to get inside Chin's body.
  • PSYCHO KILLERS (Non-slasher variety): No
  • EVIL CULT: Nah
  • (UNCANNY) VALLEY OF THE DOLLS: Still no dolls, which have not been making a strong showing this year.
  • OBSCURITY LEVEL: Mid, but now streaming on Netflix!
  • MORAL OF THE STORY: Get a better real estate agent, buddy.
  • TITLE ACCURACY: Accurate, there is a corpse which gets rigor mortis (in fact, this is the reason the vampires "hop" although we don't see much of that here.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Jitters

The Jitters (1989)
Dir. John Fasano
Written by Sonoko Kondo, Jeff McKay
Starring Randy Atmadja, Marilyn Tokuda, Sal Viviano, James Hong

THE JITTERS is an enjoyably dorky attempt to bring Hong Kong “Jiangshi” or “hopping vampires” (as seen in MR. VAMPIRE and its sequels) to America. Why this was done, I do not know; no one was asking for it, and, considering its low profile on the horror scene today, is seems like no one knew what to do with it once they had it. But I guess it had to be tried, and ROCK N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE and BLACK ROSES director John Fasano was the man to do it.

The story centers around a shop (various reviews online call it an “antique” or “toy” shop, but to me it looks more like one of those stores in Chinatown that sell knick-knacks and golden waving cats and stuff) owned and run by a  Chinese-American merchant (Randy Atmadja*), who runs afoul of the absolute worst gang in (Toronto? Chicago?), a gang of indeterminate size (various scenes range from 3 to dozens of members) which seems to have struck on the brilliant idea of robbing the same knick-knack store day after day. When they kill the proprietor in revenge for the savage beating he lays down on three of them, his daughter (Marilyn Tokuda, receptionist in ALL OF ME, various TV shows) discovers a few local religious types (including a funny James Hong [BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, The X-Files]) have resurrected him as the unique flavor of Hong Kong undead, which eventually facilitates some hoppin’ mad revenge.

Unlike BLACK ROSES, which sported some goofy puppets but had a weirdly serious tone for a lot of the runtime, THE JITTERS hits that sweet spot between hilariously boneheaded and genuinely goofy fun. From the GHOSTBUSTERS-esque sythnpop themesong to the animated hopping vampire which menaces the opening credits, to the whiny, incompetent gang members, it’s solid camp through and through, but still captures the charm in the gimmick perfectly. This will never exactly be a terrifying concept, but the movie treats it exactly as seriously as necessary while still having fun with it. There’s plenty of wacky scenes with the hopping vampires mistakenly getting out of control and causing a ruckus, but our main characters (the merchant’s niece and her cornball white boyfriend (Sal Viviano, Demonic Metal singer Damian in BLACK ROSES) don’t ever seem to be in serious danger. That’s no problem, because we’re more invested in the undead victims getting their revenge against the gang than we are terrified by these unholy abominations.

You gotta enjoy the clueless American boyfriend, whose dismissive incredulity to all this Chinese superstition becomes significantly harder to defend by the tenth ambulatory vampire corpse he sees. Like the smug Englishmen in THE MUMMY, he’s so patronizing about it in defiance of all the crazy stuff he’s constantly witnessing that you have to laugh. Unlike THE MUMMY, though, I think this is an intentional parody of clueless, unwittingly ethnocentric white dudes who are so sure they know everything that even being proven wrong again and again can’t shake their cocky confidence that they have it all figured out. But the movie forgives him for it, he’s a good guy at heart, he can’t help it that he’s a white guy in the 80’s. 1989 wasn't exactly noted as a high-water mark for cultural sensitivity, so it's nice to have Fasano tacitly acknowledge though this goofy character that this is China's world, and he's just playing in it. Lest you worry that the movie too enlightened, though, also note that the villain's girl describes the resurrected vampire as "Count Chinkula," in what is surely the year's funniest use of a racist epithet.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with the ever-growing hoard of hopping menace, but there is one weird, out-of-the-blue scene which took me by surprise. One of the gang members (the only Asian one, if that means anything) gets bit by a vampire, and returns to the gang headquarters for a midnight snack (posing, improbably, as a delivery boy). But their leader is no slouch, he’s done his homework and for some reason understands that you can defeat such a creature by showing its own reflection in the mirror (a weird twist on the usual vampire v mirror antagonism that I don’t recall from MR. VAMPIRE, but whatever). When they try this, though, there’s an unexpected result: The vampire freaks out and rips off its skin and becomes some kind of other, weirder, scarier vampire. Doesn’t seem like it’s a significant tactical improvement since they defeat him anyway (by showing him another mirror! Boy, I wouldn’t have thought to try that a second time!), but I don’t know what to make of this bizarre tangent, which is completely different from anything else in the movie, and also from any other movie ever made. I guess Fasano couldn’t constrain his love of goofy monster costumes to just one specific kind of vampire, one more reason you gotta love him.

I don't know what this is, but I like it.

Mostly though, this one gets by on charm more than spectacular effects or harrowing terror. That’s fine, because charm is something it has a surplus of, and more than enough to keep a brisk 80 minutes compulsively watchable. The wacky, slapstick humor is actually deftly in line with its Hong Kong counterparts, and although its martial arts are significantly weaker, it’s generally well-shot and structured. That means that even its obvious weak points --hilariously tin-eared line readings, an astounding inappropriate score which endlessly repeats two or three semi-random keyboard runs which would sound low-rent as the score to an Atari game-- end up being part of the fun. This is clearly the best John Fasano movie, blending the sublime silliness of ROCK N ROLL NIGHTMARE with the generally competent z-grade filmmaking of BLACK ROSES, and also unfortunately his last film as a director. He subsequently worked as a script and TV movie guy for years afterwards, even writing ANOTHER 48 HOURS, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN, and --according to his IMBD bio (though not his actual IMDB list])-- ALIEN 3, and was in pre-production for his fourth film when he died last year at 53. To my knowledge, the idea of bringing Jiangshi to America** died with Fasano’s career as a feature film director. I don’t know that anything in THE JITTERS suggests that this was some kind of horrible tragedy, but for an under-the-radar one-off, I think is about as good an American tribute to this obscure and ridiculous subgenre as anyone could possibly hope for. Frankly, the idea that some other hack who didn’t have Fasano’s obvious affection for the conceit and talent for making charming trash could come in and shame our great nation with a suboptimal Jiangshi effort… well, it’s enough to give one the jitt[warning: computer has detected hacky writing and has successfully blocked it].

*That seems to be an Indonesian last name, but I’ll trust Fasano to have found a legitimate Chinese-American.

**A dream which apparently Hong Kong production company Golden Harvest flirted with, going so far as to produce and film half of an English-language MR. VAMPIRE sequel --starring Michelle Phillips from The Mommas and The Pappas (!?)-- before pulling the plug when they realized the director’s English was too limited to make a go of it.


Play it Again, Samhain

  • TAGLINE: I can't find any evidence of a tagline, but one VHS release says "it's a feeling you'll never loose. Once you get 'em, you just can't shake 'em." I don't know what that means (presumably its in reference to the movie's nonsensical title?) but it really sounds kind of like they're threatening the viewer with an STD.
  • SEQUEL: In a perfect world, there would be a whole DTV series, but no.
  • REMAKE: Not a remake, but obviously inspired by the MR. VAMPIRE series,
  • BELOVED HORROR ICON: None, though James Hong is definitely some kind of icon.
  • BOOBIES: None
  • MULLETS: Lots, especially on the street punks
  • DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: A little hard to remember at this point, I don't think so.
  • THE UNDEAD: Jiangshi!
  • PSYCHO KILLERS (Non-slasher variety): Well, the punks do murder an old man in his place of business just for kicks.
  • EVIL CULT: Nah, although definitely some questionable ethics on the part of he sorcerers who create a elite squad of undead vampires.
  • TRANSMOGRIFICATION: Man into jiangshi, jiangshi into... I dunno, super-jiangshi?
  • OBSCURITY LEVEL: Quite High.
  • MORAL OF THE STORY: If you're a roving band of Canadian street punks, consider choosing different stores to rob night after night.
  • TITLE ACCURACY: Got no idea what it means.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Mummy

The Mummy (1959)
Dir. Terence Fisher
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, George Pastell

In 1959, Hammer Studios was solidly in the horror business. And brother, business was a-boomin’. Prior to 1955, Hammer Studios had been an unremarkable little studio churning out serviceable but conventional dramas, comedies, and thrillers. But 1955 brought THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, a sci-fi horror shocker which earned a notorious “X” rating and such a surprising payday for Hammer that the sequel, QUATERMASS 2, was produced for more than twice the budget of the original. But by the time the excellent QUATERMASS 2 premiered in late May 1957, the world already had its eyes on another Hammer film which had come out a few weeks previous: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, starring then-unknowns Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and filmed in color for the first time in the story’s history. When FRANKENSTEIN returned more than 70 times its modest budget, Hammer smelled blood in the water and followed it with DRACULA the following year. When that too proved a substantial financial success, the writing in blood was on the wall: for the next two decades, Hammer would be nearly exclusively in the horror business. And the first order of business was to get back out there and replicate the formula that had put their name on the map as closely --and as quickly-- as possible.

Since Hammer had begun their horror cycle with two loose adaptations of Universal Horrors classic monster films, the next logical target was another one: 1932’s Boris-Karloff starring THE MUMMY. Unlike Dracula and Frankenstein, this Universal property was not based on any classic work of literature, and was more strongly inspired by the 1922 discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun and the subsequent rumors of “the curse of the tomb” which had supposedly claimed the lives of expedition financier Lord Carnarvon and others. Hence, the Hammer adaptation was not especially bound by any particular text, and ultimately has little in common with its presumptive 1932 inspiration, though the story eventually incorporates elements from several of its sequels, notably THE MUMMY’S HAND, THE MUMMY’S TOMB, and THE MUMMY’S GHOST. But that hardly mattered; what really mattered was re-assembling the dream team that had made Hammer’s first forays into horror such a success. Director Terence Fisher, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, production designer Bernard Robinson, and stars Cushing and Lee all returned (missing were composer James Bernard --subbed out for German composer Franz Reizenstein in one of only three film scores he composed-- and producer Anthony Hinds, replaced by Anthony Nelson Keyes and Michael Carreras), and the stage was set for lightning to strike a third time .

All the pieces were in place for another home run, but unfortunately THE MUMMY doesn’t quite match the lofty standards set by its progenitors. It’s not a disaster, of course; there are plenty of good things about it. It’s every bit as handsome a production as you would hope from a Hammer film of this era -- including some lovingly rendered hieroglyphics and Egyptian art, and a sumptuously decorated and lit Tomb set (who knew Egyptian tombs had green mood lighting?) with a plethora of great-looking artifacts obviously modeled closely after the ones found in Tutankhamen's tomb a few decades prior. And unlike a lot of so-called “mummy” movies I can think of (looking at you, ETERNAL KISS OF THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY 1932, and THE AWAKENING), this one actually has a fucking mummy in it, and he’s clearly the star of the show. Lee, as the title character, looks fucking boss as hell; the makeup on his mummified, gray face is some of Hammer’s best (something of a backhanded compliment for a company not known for amazing effects work), really desiccated and gross, even if he’s also surprisingly buff for a guy who’s been dead 3,000 years (not that I’m complaining; in the next sequel, made without Lee, we will learn that a short, dumpy mummy is not an improvement). 

Lee doesn’t exactly have a ton to do; he has some semi-embarrassing brownface flashbacks to his younger days as a living ancient Egyptian, but mostly he’s just silently lurking around in mummy getup. Even though doesn’t get to do a ton of acting, however, it was absolutely worth casting Lee because, A) he’s buff as hell and that mummy seriously looks intimidating, and B) as he did with both his previous roles as Frankenstein's Monster and Dracula, he again proves how underrated he is as a purely physical actor. This character moves entirely differently from his other two classic roles; he looks stiff and strange and ancient without resorting to the stereotypical arms-out mummy shuffle from the Abbot and Costello movies. He never seems to be rushing, but somehow (partly because he’s so tall) he seems like a real physical threat, not something you could just casually walk away from. Director Fisher knows exactly how to shoot him, too -- in both senses, as he conjures some splendid horror framings with the menacing brute,* and also peppers him with gunfire which has the visceral punch of blasting through the wrappings straight through the body (something you could really only get away with in a bloodless mummy in 1959 England).

So there’s plenty of good stuff here, but the fragmented, inelegantly pieced together narrative structure which would increasingly become a problem for Hammer in the years to come (as budgets shrank and writers were increasingly hard-pressed to churn out product), is already in evidence here. Cushing is the ostensible lead, but he’s barely present and mostly incidental to the entire first half of the movie, which takes an awkwardly long time to really coalesce into a coherent conflict. It’s nearly 50 minutes into this slim 88-minute production (including an extended and completely unnecessary Ancient Egyptian flashback stuck haphazardly in the middle, which brings the movie to a screeching standstill) before Cushing is solidly fixed as the protagonist, effectively negating any possibility of a satisfying escalation. Once the exposition and flashbacks are out of the way and it comes down to Cushing v Mummy, things pick up significantly and move confidently to a perfectly satisfactory climax, but it doesn’t quite have time to build up the same momentum its predecessors were able to muster.

...yeaaaah, not a good look, in retrospect.

Cushing does his usual fine work, even with a not-very-interesting and dangerously passive character. He does get to shine near the end, when he gets to have a very well-written and well-staged tense conversation with his modern-day Egyptian adversary (Cypriot character actor George Pastell, stuck in the regrettable recurring role of “ethnic villain”) who is controlling the mummy. The thinly veiled verbal battle between the two film vets --with Cushing goading his enemy til he tips his hand-- is as riveting a bit of drama as anything involving the monster. Unfortunately the way he goads him is, like the whole movie, rife with uncomfortable racial tension; the Brits have a pretty open contempt for the Arab characters and the movie doesn’t even remotely entertain the idea that the Egyptians may have a reasonable point about having their cultural heritage stolen, to be carted off and put behind a glass case thousands of miles away in front of gawking Victorian foreigners hoping to get a cheap kick out of their discomfort with death under the guise of historical curiosity. It’s also one of those funny movies where our “civilized” heroes mock the primitive superstitions of the ignorant foreigners, and don’t seem fazed in the slightest by the fact that the events of the movie demonstrably prove those “superstitions” are correct. Haha, those ignorant savages think they can raise a supernatural punishment from beyond the grave, how ridiculous and ignorant they are. --Later-- Haha, those ignorant savages successfully raised a supernatural punishment from beyond the grave, and we all witnessed it and confirmed it was true, how ridiculous and ignorant they are.

Its cumbersome plotting and dated, uncomfortable racial politics ensure that THE MUMMY is one of the lesser Hammer films of this period. But even so, it still maintains that fundamental Hammer feel, a mix of opulent production, heavy gothic atmosphere, and classy performances mixed with a hearty dose of crass genre exploitation. It has Fisher, Sangster, Cushing and Lee on board, a classic movie monster re-imagined for the late-50’s British horror resurgence, and more than a handful of splendidly-staged horror beats. And hey, Michael Ripper as a rabbit-poaching drunk! That’s about as solidly Hammer a pedigree as exists on this Earth. THE MUMMY may be a little too flawed to qualify as an essential Hammer production, but it’s certainly a quintessential one.

*Particularly the movie’s most iconic image, with the mud-encrusted mummy slowly rising from the fetid waters of an English bog.



Play it Again, Samhain

  • TAGLINE: This is really before taglines were a thing, but the poster reads: Fear Will Freeze You When you Face… THE MUMMY
  • LITERARY ADAPTATION: No, a loose (although uncredited) adaptation of various Universal Mummy sequels
  • SEQUEL: First in a series of four
  • REMAKE: Yes, clearly a remake of the Universal film from 1932, even though the plot is not the same at all
  • SLUMMING A-LISTER: Maybe respected British thespian Sir Felix Aylmer? Surely if you’re a “sir” you count as A-list?
  • BELOVED HORROR ICON: Cushing, Lee, Michael Ripper, Sangster, director Terence Fisher
  • BOOBIES: None
  • MULLETS: None
  • THE UNDEAD: Mummy!
  • POSSESSION: No, although this would become a standard feature of later Mummy efforts.
  • PSYCHO KILLERS (Non-slasher variety): No
  • EVIL CULT: While the fictional Egyptian god “Karnak” seems like mainstream Ancient Egyptian religion, the modern-day Karnak-worshipper pulling the Mummy’s strings seems pretty cult-y.
  • TRANSMOGRIFICATION: Ancient Egyptian into Mummy
  • OBSCURITY LEVEL: Fairly low, major production from Hammer’s heyday.
  • MORAL OF THE STORY: If the British want to take your country’s historical antiquities, you should really just let them, attempting to punish them for it later ends badly for everyone.
  • TITLE ACCURACY: Definitely an actual Mummy here.

I should say, this is a pretty strong 3-sequel effort, it's obviously quite a bit stronger than, say, THE ARRIVAL. But 4 didn't feel quite right, so I erred on the side of caution (and historical fact, as it actually got exactly three sequels, though all theatrical, obviously)