Movies From the Black Lagoon: Voodoo Black Exorcist

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Voodoo Black Exorcist

A Jamaican cruise ship provides the posh setting for this sordid melodrama that finds a reawakened, and decidedly unwrapped, mummy reeking havoc for all aboard.
This one plays like a fusion between the mummy genre and any episode of "The Love Boat". The cruise-goers could easily be mistaken for guest stars on that 70's sitcom. On board: Dr. Kessler, mummy expert and all around idiot who has crossed the line with his secretary but has no plans to marry her; Sylvia, said secretary who sports European swim wear, a head adorned with red curls, and a vague resemblance to the mummy's first love; and, of course, Gatanebo, a former Voodoo priest who was mummified (via flashback) for an offense which is never made clear. Toss in an overbearing psychic, her cow towing husband, a hamburger magnate, and the ship's resident exotic dancer (gee did Julie start out that way) and you have a full menu of victims for our revived fiend.
The mummy, however, is a bit of a dummy and begins picking off victims because they resemble the people who killed his woman, Kenya, and sealed him up in a sarcophagus. Gatanebo may just be recovering from a prolonged sleep but he doesn't help himself by embarking on a rampage at sea. Pretty soon a detective is brought on board to weed out the killer though he turns out to have a cavalier attitude toward his work and prefers to sip gin on the sun deck while waiting for the killer to make a mistake.
Meanwhile, Kessler sinks as far as he can when he agrees to allow the mummy to pose as a colleague in exchange for an opportunity to pick his brain (Anne Rice probably smacked herself for missing the boat there and should have made "Interview with the Mummy" her first novel). The plan calls for Gatanebo to meet the expert at the airport and prevent him from boarding the boat. He accomplishes this in a rudimentary fashion by steamrolling the poor sap into street pizza.
The plan actually works and gives Gatanebo a chance to enjoy the on-board buffet, catch the exotic dancer, and make googol eyes at Sylvia. The detective finally catches on and braces Dr. Kessling as to the real identity of his new friend but by then it's too late as the mummy has disembarked and dragged Sylvia back to Kingston Cave where he was first entombed. The detective finally springs into action and drags the Doc along as he gathers up a posse of Jamaica's finest and heads to the cave for a fiery showdown. All I can say about the clumsily staged finale is that it makes a good case for never issuing a flamethrower to a rookie officer whose law enforcement career is only a few hours old.
What makes this one work is that it has colorful scenery, lots of eye candy, and some truly wacky set pieces. Take all of those elements and hand them to a totally inept director (the dunce cap goes to Manuel Cano in this case) and you have a film that is guaranteed to save your lackluster dinner party. The first place they drop the ball here is in continuity. We get opening narration that states the mummy has waited two thousand years for his vengeance but we later learn it was only 300 years. They also fail to explain why Gatanebo sometimes looks human but at other times is a pasty-faced ghoul. The special effects guys are bargain basement too and fail to craft a decent decapitated head but are more than happy to show off their lack of skills in three instances. The steamroller death is right out of a "Road Runner" cartoon and only calls for some flattened clothing. The actors are dubbed badly though this works best for Gatanebo who happens to resemble the love child of John Belushi and Yul Brynner. But the cameraman pounds the final nail in this sarcophagus: when the mummy attacks the exotic dancer he brutally smashes her face into a mirror and it's pretty gruesome until the illusion is shattered by the reflection of the camera dude as he appears on screen for two seconds and can be glimpsed standing behind the actors and shooting away. I grabbed this off a dollar rack and suggest you do the same the next time you're picking up party favors.
Best Line: "I could not find another like you until I find you again."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.