Amoeblog

Asian-American Cinema Part IX - the 2000s

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 27, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The ninth of a nine part series on Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera

INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN-AMERICAN CINEMA


The first efforts to combat negative racial stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans in film began in the silent era, when a few empowered figures attempted to create an alternative Asian-American Silent Cinema. After their efforts faltered, Hollywood provided most cinematic images of Asians in the '30s, 40s, 50s, and '60s. With the birth of Asian-American theater, Asian-American cinema was revived in the 1970s and began to take off as a viable independent cinema in the 1980s. By the '90s, the scope of Asian-American Cinema broadened considerably, a trend that continued in the 2000s.

APAMERICA IN THE 2000s
In the 2000s, Asians became the fastest growing racial minority in the county. As of 2006, there were over thirteen million Americans of Asian descent (not counting Native people). Of the top ten languages spoken in American homes (English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Italian and Russian), four are Asian.


         Yunjin Kim                    Daniel Dae Kim               Masi Oka                     Bobby Lee                    B.D. Wong

APA TV IN THE 2000S

Despite the conspicous presence of Asians in America, in film and on TV Asian-American are still nearly invisible, aside from roles as doctors on ER, Grey’s Anatomy and House, or objects of ridicule (e.g. William Hung and Renaldo Lopez). Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim and Masi Oka, some of the few Asian-Americans on TV, all play foreigners. Bobby Lee of Mad TV and B. D. Wong on Law & Order: SVU are two of the few Asian-American male actors whose roles challenge stereotypes both directly and indirectly. My Life... Disoriented and A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila became only the fourth and fifth TV series with Asian Americans in starring roles.

APA THEATER IN THE 2000s

In the 2000s, APA theatre continued to quickly grow with new groups like Amherst's New WORLD Theater; The Bay Area's Krea; Chicago's DueEast Theatre Company, Rasaka Theater Company, Silk Road Theatre Project and YAWP; Dallas's Diwa Theater Company; Hawaii's Kumu Kahua TheatreHouston's Shunya Theater; Los Angeles' Chinatown 90210 and Thumping Claw One Act Series; New York's Cuchipinoy Productions, Desipina & Company, Disha TheatreeyeBLINK Fluid Motion Theater, Mellow Yellow Theatre Company and SALAAM Theatre; San Diego's Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company; San Francisco's Locus Arts and Youth for Asian Theatre; Seattle's Pratidhwani Drama Wing, Sex in Seattle;SoCal's Here and Now Theatre Company;Tampa's Asian Pacific American Scene and Washington DC's Awaaz Theatre all joining the fray during the decade. New playwrights included A. Rey Pamatmat, Carla Ching, Edward Bok Lee, J.P. Chan, Lloyd Suh, Michael Golacmo and Qui Nguyen.

APA COMICS IN THE 2000s

In the 2000s, there were finally recognized APA comics whose last names weren't "Cho." Aziz Ansari, Dat Phan, Bobby Lee, Dr. Ken, Steve Byrne, Susan Chuang, Kevin Shea, Joey Guila, Soonpoong Choi, Augustine Hong and Nakgyun Im may not be household names but have all received decent exposure. New comedy ensembles like Chicago's Taco Flavored Eggrolls and Los Angeles' Room to Improv also sprang up during the decade.

APA COMEDY DVDS



I'm the One That I Want
(2000), Notorious C.H.O. (2002), Revolution (2003), Assassin (2005), The Kims of Comedy, What's That Clickin' Noise (both 2006), Comedy Zen (2007), Happy Hour (2008)

APA HOLLYWOOD IN THE 2000s

2002's Better Luck Tomorrow ushered in a new era for Asian American filmmakers and actors after it became a surprise independent success. In Hollywood, John Cho and Kal Penn, in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, were quietly revolutionary by being the first two Asian-American male leads to co-star in a Hollywood film in forever. For the most part, however, Hollywood films like Memoirs of a Geisha, Mistress of Spices, Monsoon Wedding, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Wendy Wu - Homecoming Warrior continued to offer  familiar depictions. On the other hand,  for the first time, large numbers of APA films were made. A large percentage moved beyond the traditional focus on acculturation to explore a much greater variety of subject matter suggesting that Asian-American Cinema is now a healthy, viable movement if still a bit under the radar.

APA ACTORS WHOSE CAREERS BEGAN IN THE '00s

   
                Aaron Takahashi                                Aaron Yoo                                                Aiko Tanaka 

  
          Alexander Agate                              Alexis Chang                                               An Nguyen     

  Angel Desai  
                        Angel Desai                                                  Angie Lieuw                                     Brenda Song

  
                        Camille Mana                                        Cat Ly                                                     Chil Kong                          

  
               Christina Stacey                                    Christopher Dinh                               Damien Nguyen  

   
                        David Huynh                                             David J. Lee                                  David Shih

 

                         Di Quon                                                    Dileep Rao                                             Eddie Shin     

 

                              Elizabeth Ho                                         Emily Ryan                                                Esther Chae            

  

                     Ewan Chung                                              Feodor Chin                                      Ganita Koonopakarn  

 
Hahn Cho
                       Grace Park                                              Hanh Cho                                               Hettienne Park

    
 
                  Hira Ambrosino                                             James Kyson Lee                                   Jane Kim       

  

                        Janet Linn                                               Jeff Lam                                              Jennifer Wu              

 

                        Joy Osmanski                                           Julia Ling                                              Justin Chon               

   
                   Karin Anna Cheung                                          Kathy Uyen                                              Kenzo Lee                                      
 

               Kevin Leung                                                Kylie Kim                                                       Lanny Joon   
                      
 
 

                 Leonardo Nam                                                      Linda Park                                           Lynn Chen  

 

         Michael David Cheng                                           Migina Tsai                                                 Natasha Yi   
 
 

                     Richard Chiu                                     Samantha Futerman                                     Samson Fu       
 
 
 
                      Shelley Conn                                 Shin Koyamada                                                 Siu Ta           

 
Steph Song 
                    Smith Cho                                                   Steph Song                                                Tania Gunadi   

  

                      Tim Chiou                                       Tim Kang                                                          Tina Duong  


  
  Wayne Chang 
                       Valerie Tian                                      Wayne Chang                                                 Yoi Tanabe

Not pictured: Austin Lee, Christy Qin, Darwood Chung, Esther Song, Grace Fatkin, Hoon Lee, Jim Chu, Jimmy Lin, Kerry Wong, Mao Zhao, Ngoc Lam, Oliver Oguma, Ruth Zhang and Shawn Huang


APA RELATED FILM IN THE '00s

  
Becoming an Actress in New York (2000), Being Hmong Means Being Free (2000)

 
Conscience and the Constitution (2000), Constructions (2000), 

 
Crossover (2000), Daughters of the Cloth (2000)

  
Days of Waiting (2000), Desi -  South Asians in New York (2000), Drift (2000)

   
First Person Plural (2000), Of Civil Wrongs and Rights (2000), Saanjh - As Night Falls (2000)

 

Sea in the Blood (2000), Snow Falling on Cedars (2000) 

ProtestationTartare

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 20, 2009 09:14pm | Post a Comment

Today an estimated 15,000 Crimean Tatars gathered in Simferopol, Ukraine to mark the 65th anniversary of their forced deportation at the hands of Soviet authorities under Stalin. In 1944, approximately 200,000 Crimean Tatars were loaded onto trains and sent to Siberia, with roughly half dying along the way.


Since the collapse of the USSR, many have returned to their ancestral homelands, joining the 280,000 who currently live there. Around 150,000 have expressed their intention to return.


Many of the protesters held aloft their national flag and voiced their demands, which include calls for national recognition, autonomy and Crimean Tatar schools.

  

Without a doubt, the most famous Tatar in American popular culture of Tatar ancestry is actor Charles Bronson. They also gave us steak Tartare.


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Jon Moritsugu - Original BB in da house

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 14, 2009 02:38pm | Post a Comment

Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis

Jon Moritsugu
is an American filmmaker who's enjoyed a long career of critical acclaim and underground fandom. Many of his films feature actress/wife/Scumrock co-writer/sometime bandmate Amy Davis. Although best known for his cult classic Mod Fuck Explosion, he's consistently and constantly made films that challenge and entertain with his unique style. As part of a series of interviews with groundbreaking Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry, he graciously agreed to be interviewed.

Eric Brightwell: Since it’s Asian/Pacific Island American Heritage Month, I’ll start with some questions related to that. First of all, how’s your APAH Month so far? Does it mean anything to you?

 
nori in its green glory                                                             "wok on over" and "taste the joy"... I don't get it!

Jon Moritsugu: APAH?... Ah... I did eat a buncha nori my mommy sent me... I think every day should be a day of awareness, be it racial, cultural, environmental or personal. No, but I digress...to me APAH is two for one Panda Express for me and the lady.

EB: It seems like in the past two decades, there’s been a fairly healthy explosion in the number of Asian American movies (albeit mostly within the indie sector). With the diversification within the works of Asian-American filmmakers, do people still tag you with the “bad boys” thing? Who were the “good boys of Asian American Cinema?” Wanye Wang and Peter Wang? What do you think about the current state of Asian American film?



JM: The current shade of Asian American film is pissy wissy yellow dolloped with EXTREME neon chartreuse. I dunno what people label me as...maybe Old Bad Boy? Original BB in da house? I am still labeled as a BAD ASS and I guess to me Wayne Wang and all the Eat a Bowl Of Freckled Rice types of Asians are the good boys.

EB: Do you get the sense that the role and representations of Asian Americans in the entertainment industry are changing at all?



JM: I think M Night Shyamalan was one of the only curry-scented yellow men doing something original in the field and he totally lost it... I do like Bobby Lee and Sandra Oh as far as actors go... And right on for Justin Lin (Director) for getting inside and making H-wood films. The opportunities now for Asians are so much more plentiful than twenty years ago...time to burn the rickshaw at both ends!


from Terminal USA

EB
: Do you get much feedback or criticism about your atypical and maybe oblique way addressing Asian American identity? I’m thinking specifically of Mod Fuck Explosion, Terminal USA and Scumrock, which each seemed to approach the issue from fairly different directions.



JM: I don't get much negative feedback because in these modern times my stuff is pretty au courant. 10 or 20 years ago, I did get bad reviews. Now, I get normal feedback and I think perhaps the critics have chilled out and/or the world has gotten a lot weirder.


Mommy, Mommy, Where's My Brain?

EB: One thing I’ve heard more than once about your films (i.e. Der Elvis, Mod Fuck Explosion and Hippy Porn) is that they bait a subcultural audience and then defy their expectations. Is there a deliberate agenda to confront people’s preconceived notions with the titles?


Trailer from Mod Fuck Explosion

JM: There is a deliberate DESIRE to confront all narrow minded people who live, breathe and DIE for their COOL. I was all the asshole characters in my movies...I AM MILES MORGAN. "RED DOT DON'T PLAY ME" (from Scumrock) is a total picture of me as RECORD GEEK...UBER RECORD GEEK.


a clip from Fame Whore
 
EB: In the past you’ve been an outspoken proponent of the democratization of filmmaking that has resulted from cheaper, more accessible means of production. But as a result, it seems to me that more and more often independent films seem designed to show how well they can imitate Hollywood. On the other hand, Hollywood seems to have effectively transformed Indie film into a genre with its own set of clichés (e.g. quirky ensemble casts, hand drawn titles, &c) Where do you and other underground filmmakers fit in?  

JM: Hollywood has actually made it easier, not harder, for the freaks like me to get a deal. I feel I could get a deal tomorrow. I know I could keep making films even if I don't get one. I can make a film for 50 million or for 5 grand. There are pros and cons, but ultimately life for folks like myself is better now than in 1985 when I started out. There are so many more venues, cheap equipment, and DIY ways for all filmmakers to get their work out there.


Trailer from Scumrock

EB: In interviews, everyone always asks you about your use of music, but you’ve been in several bands yourself, right? What bands have you been in and what’s the current state of your musical endeavors?

JM: Here are some bands I've been in:

SPRAY RAY URBAN BAND (1982-83)
THE URBAN BAND (1983)
SEX DRUMS (1984-85)
ALIEN BUFFET (1985)
BIG SKID (1986-87)
HATE FAMILY (1986-87)
FURBALL (1988-1990)
NONOBOY (late 90s - I don't remember...)
DREAM CHILDREN (2006-2007)
LOW ON HIGH (1993-2009)


LOW ON HIGH is me on guitar/vox/drums and my wife/leading lady Amy Davis on bass/vox. This is where the action is right now. We have a song on a new SWISS compilation w/ folks like SKULLFLOWER as well as a full-length album coming out later this year. LOW ON HIGH also has a 4-song 7" single coming out soon in France on SHIT IN CAN RECORDS.

For Sale at all Amoeba locations and other fine stores:



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Emily Ryan of Emily's Sassy Lime

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 9, 2009 10:39am | Post a Comment

Emily Ryan
is an artist/actress/DJ/musician who, in 1994, formed possibly the first all female Asian American rock group, Emily's Sassy Lime, with sisters Amy and Wendy Yao. In 2002, she played James Duval's girlfriend in Jon Moritsugu's underground classic Scumrock.

Eric Brightwell: Question 1: what other all Asian-American rock bands were there before Emily's Sassy Lime?
 
Emily Ryan: J Church, Seam, aMiniature, Slint… I suggest you peep the (seminal) Ear of the Dragon comp… Versus… no all girl ones however! They would sprinkle in one here or there…Skankin’ Pickle.

EB: I had no idea that half of those bands were comprised of Asians! They weren't really getting a lot of play on Friday Night Videos.

ER: Exactly. I’ll correct myself; those groups were LED by Asian Americans… as in "not just the bassist.” I want to say that I recently met the drummer from an old Matador band, Chavez – James Lo...Tae from Kicking Giant...Steve Gamboa from Nation of Ulysses, Cupid Car Club, and Make-Up.

EB: Ha! When I asked a co-worker we came up with James Iha, Joey Santiago and Soundgarden because of Hiro Yamamoto and Kim Thayil.

ER: These are the solid names; Kim Thayil is a great one. I’m coming distinctly from the indie underground. Robynn Iwata from Cub (Canada), who is now in IamspoonbenderRop Vazquez from the PeeChees and Rice. During the pre-internet days, I didn't know that Pete Tong (BBC) or David Yow (Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard) were not Asian.
 
EB: Oh, and then I got Shonen Knife... which I thought illustrates something about the persistent difficulty
with distinguishing Asian Asians and Asian Americans in a way that people don't have with blacks or whites. I took this test and it said I was subconsciously slightly biased toward viewing Asians as foreign, which made me pissed!

ER: Good thing to come to terms with, Eric. How about this, Dengue Fever are actually making music that sounds foreign, in the face of, let's say, Thao Nguyen.




EB: Well, the first year I was trying to get the store to recognize the month, people were giving me all of
these suggestions for Asian-American actors and they were all Chinese, you know. And the films they were suggesting were like Old Boy. But once you emphasize Asian-American you get the same suggestion 95% of the time. Guess!

ER: Wayne Wang, Eat a Bowl of Tea?

EB: Joy Luck Club. What's the deal with that movie? (I've never seen it.)

ER: Harsh, thin Asian women -- a dated concept.

EB: It just looks well-meaning but prohibitively cheesy... but for some reason, it is the go-to Asian American film for most people.

ER: Well, I’d say you haven't lived until you've watched Wayne Wang's Chan Is Missing.

EB: Really?


ER: I love it.  Watch it and we'll talk! Some Ang Lee isn't bad, but relies too much on indulgent Americana.

EB: That's [Chan Is Missing] pretty much the film, as far as I can tell, that ended the long silence in Asian-American Cinema. After the silent era, it doesn't seem like there was anything made by Asians for Asians until that.

ER: What a voice -- I love that movie, [and] all of Jon Moritsugu's films, starting with the short ones he
did while still at Brown -- Der Elvis, Sleazy Rider, Mommy Mommy Where's My Brain? Also very important are all of V. Vale's Re/Search books -- my favorites are the ones on experimental film and pranks.

EB: It seems like there has been an explosion of Asian-American films recently. A lot play a few festivals
and then are on DVD... or they play at a theatre like the horridly named ImaginAsian Theater. That name just makes me cringe. I think it may have something to do with a distaste for portmanteaus. 

ER: As in AMOEBLOG?

EB: Oh yeah, and infotainment. There's something instantly dated about portmanteaus. Remember when people thought, "If I put '2k' at the end of the title, it will sound so cool!" …advertainment, blogebrity! …It's like the screenplay to Juno 2. Did you hear about Kal Penn being appointed as cultural liaison to Asian-Americans or whatever?

ER: Yeah, he’s ok. I don't like the layers of meaning to his role on 24, though.



 
EB: I thought Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle was kind of culturally important because it had two male Asian leads and they weren't even heavily-accented nerds. Why do you think it’s such a given that Black History Month is going to be a big deal at every business but when you bring up APAH Month people are like *eye rolling* "where does it end?!" Personally, I think Black History Month is an assuagement of white guilt and a thank you for providing us with most of our notions of what's cool...

ER: And also maybe I need to get past myself and talk up the Hmong and Cambodians oppressed by me.
 
EB: Yeah, I feel like, everybody's people have oppressed and been oppressed at some point. I personally
don't even feel guilty for my parents' actions, much less certain unrelated members of my race hundreds of years ago.

ER: Also there are more people from the past in underrepresented fields… I think the first wave of immigrants from 1975 have children in my age range and through the '90s I have seen a wide spectrum of
Asian-Americans on both sides of the media -- reporters and artists, increasing visibility from SuChin Pak on MTV to Theme Magazine in Brooklyn and even a Vietnamese-American artist named Mylinh Trieu
sounds familiar to folks nowadays. In 1990? It was Margaret Cho and that was it.

EB: Even as a kid I thought it was weird how Black History Month is like some kind of mundane trivial
pursuit where you learn about who invented the traffic light. But they never really address what people are going through now. It reduces inequality to an historical and academic matter.

ER: Well, how about this, it matters to your environment. On a civic level, there should always be _____ history month, but on the commerce level, it gets too one-dimensional.

EB: True. It always seems tacky how big corporations like McDonald's, Wal-mart and Coca-Cola are the biggest supporters of Black History Month... which they mark by making a commercial with an entirely black cast. Way to go! But I do think that these month-long observances are good opportunities to recognize what makes us different and what we-that-are-alive-now go through due to wrongly assumed differences, etc.

ER: Hopefully!!


EB: Did Emily's Sassy Lime encounter certain expectations because of your race or was the scene a little more open minded?

ER: Well, mind you, we were from southern California; we bullied kids at our schools, we were conscious about race. For example, one of the things that was always top of mind was Asian home-based karaoke culture and Asian racer and parachute kid culture …those "GQ Asians," so it was definitely part of our identity and then we would get offended and mad when this zine came out called Emily’s Sassy Lime Get Eaten by Wolves where we were drawn as stick figure slit eyes playing on stage and getting chased off and eaten by wolves. But we were loud and brassy and we would be lecturing everyone on how bad that was that a zine like that was allowed to be circulated, you know what I mean? So we were sort of like, "nothing gets past us" in terms of racism. Remember, we had to deal with sexism so we sort of battled both with big mouths.


EB: Well, if you were men and you make a big deal out of something, you're strong. If you're a woman and you do the same thing, you're a whiny bitch.

ER: "Annoying" was the word. Cos we happened to be sneaky and well educated, so it doesn't go down well when you are in the underground. Michelle Carr from Jabberjaw is putting out a book and I contributed some memories and she told me, "You remembered the most amazing things." That was
because at the same time I was remembering the mundane details of my high school obsessions, I did that for underground music too.

EB: Do you feel like representations of and attitudes toward Asians are improving or changing at all?

ER: Our coming of age is still in process.


EB: I feel like Asian women, especially, are sometimes treated like fashion accessories. Asian men,
on the other hand, are usually belittled for comedic value, like William Hung. But if someone thinks an Asian guy is hot, they make sure to let you know, to prove how open minded they are... like the guy on Lost.

ER: I was ushered backstage one time at Webster Hall with this guy Peter Kim, accompanied by the acknowledgment, "It's Margaret Cho and the guy from Lost!"

EB: That's not so bad; when I was watching Gran Torino this black guy asked me if I was Ryan Reynolds and I said, "That's so racist!" And he was like, "Oh, you're his brother?" I said, “No, we all look the same.” ...Did you know Emily's Sassy Lime is on Pandora?

ER: Actually, funny you say that, I just got a royalty statement today $20 in the past month! At $100 they cut me a check...

EB: Ca-ching!

ER: Ha ha, more now than ever. Ok, I have to leave soon for Bánh mì sliders.

For more, reference:

1. Jimmy Duval, actor/musician
2. Anya Phillips, founder of Mudd Club
3. Alice Bag, punk
4. Jon Moritsugu, filmmaker/musician
5. Madame Esther Wong of Sun Mun Way, of Madame Wong's

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Mummy Dearest

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 15, 2009 06:06pm | Post a Comment


Mummy films
are unique among classic monster movies in that they're neither primarily based upon myths or literature. Only Isaac Henderson's 1902 play, The Mummy and the Hummingbird and Bram Stoker's 1903 novel, Jewel of the Seven Stars, have inspired cinematic adaptations (the latter spawning four to date) with its subject of an archaeologist attempting to revive a mummy. There were a few examples of the mummy in literature, as with Edgar Allan Poe's "Some Words with a Mummy," Théophile Gautier's The Romance of a Mummy, Ambrose Pratt's The Living Mummy, Louisa May Alcott's "Lost in a Pyramid or, The Mummy’s Curse" and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Lot No. 249" and "The Ring of Thoth" all deal with mummies, albeit not always in a horror setting, and have never even loosely been adapted into film.

The rise of mummy films seem to be directly related to a then-widespread interest in archaeology and, more specifically, an enduring western vogue for Orientalism and fascination with the Near East.  Several major discoveries in the field of Egyptology occurred in the 20th century and helped renew and increase interest in one the the planet's oldest, most complex and enduring civilizations. Yet fascination with Egyptian mummies, with their tantalizing ties to the ancient past, never really translated into a healthy monster subgenre, only sporadically rising to the level of more continually popular monsters like vampires and ghosts.



In 1912, the famous bust of Nefertiti was rediscovered and rekindled broad interest in ancient Egypt. Filmmakers of that decade responded by producing more mummy films than any subsequent decade till the current, although they usually depicted people pretending to be mummies or the theft of them rather than reanimated monsters. In 1922, Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered. Completely hidden for ages, it was and is the most complete, un-plundered Egyptian tomb ever found to date. Following its discovery, the tabloids spread a rumor that a curse of death was placed on whomever entered the tomb and this, along with Stoker's plot involving re-animation of mummies, seems to have influenced practically all mummy movies that followed.
 
    

   

As opposed to Dracula amongst vampires, Frankenstein's monster amongst golems, or the Wolf Man amongst werewolves, no one mummy has ever managed to rise to dominance amongst their kind, a fact which I view as critical in its remaining a second string monster. In the 1930s, Imhotep was the first big mummy, played by Boris Karloff and then revived in the 1990s in loose remake and its sequels. In the 1940s, Universal's Kharis was the main mummy. King Rutentuten (aka Rootentootin) appeared in two Three Stooges films. Yet all these mummies are virtually interchangeable. Despite the well known mummies of the Guanches (of the Canary Islands), the Incas, the Tibetans and the Chachapoyas, filmmakers again and again depicted lumbering, unstoppable Egyptian mummies, except, notably, in Mexico, which got into the mummy movie game. Popoca starred as the Aztec mummy in a whole slew of films and even pitted a werewolf mummy against Tin Tan.

 

In addition to no single mummy achieving widespread name recognition due to inter-mummy competition, they also all suffer from the absence of engaging personalities and conversational abilities. By comparison, Frankenstein's monster practically seems like Oscar Wilde. Even a ghoul might express its love of brains, but the Mummy, on the other hand, usually broods in silence, single-mindedly obsessing over his long dead girlfriend.
 
 

The monster rally subgenre began with Frankenstein's monster's meeting with the Wolfman in 1943 in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. The mummy, criticized by some for being little more than Frankenstein's monster in bandages, would seem like an obvious choice of combatant. That almost happened with 1944's House of Frankenstein. There, the scientist's monster was joined by Dracula, Wolf Man and even a hunchback frighteningly named Daniel. Early drafts of the film had included the Mummy (as well as the Invisible Man and the little-known Mad Ghoul) but the monster didn't make the cut. The following year, in House of Dracula, the Mummy wasn't even considered and it became clear that the Mummy was perceived by most as a B-list monster who would remain absent from exclusive monster rallies like Van Helsing, only showing up in more democratic affairs like Groovie Goolies, Carry on Screaming, Monster Squad, Mad Monster Party, El Castillo de los Monstruos, The Halloween That Almost Wasn't, and Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters.


Perhaps no other example illustrates the Mummy's comparative unpopularity than General Mills' monster-themed cereals. When introduced in 1971, it was Count Chocula and Franken Berry that came first. They were joined by Boo Berry in '73 and Fruit Brute in '74. It wasn't until 1987 that Fruity Yummy Mummy was born, only to be discontinued in 1993.

  

The mummy was a natural in the silent era, since he never had much to say anyway. The first known mummy picture was 1909's La Momie du roi. The 1910s, as previously noted, were a heyday of mummy films, including Romance of the Mummy (1911), The Mummy (1911), The Mummy (1912), The Vengeance of Egypt (1912), The Mummy and the Cowpuncher (1912), The Mummy (1914), When the Mummy Cried for Help (1915), The Avenging Hand (1915), The Mummy and the Hummingbird (1915), The Live Mummy (1915), The Missing Mummy (1916), Die Augen der Mumie Ma (1918) and Mercy, The Mummy Mumbled (1918).
 
The 1920s witnessed a dramatic decrease in mummy movies, with only one example, the comedy The Mummy (1923), produced in the decade.


The 1930s began with Boris Karloff's famous portrayal in 1932’s The Mummy. It was the first Universal horror film not based on an earlier source, although it owed both to Dracula (with an ankh substituting for a crucifix) and Frankenstein (also starring Boris Karloff as a re-animated monster) which may've worked against it. Unlike those two predecessors, it spawned no sequels. The other two mummy films in the '30s were the animated Tom and Jerry (but not the cat and mouse) film, The Magic Mummy (1933) and the Three Stooges' We Want Our Mummy (1939).


With the 1940s, the mummy was again the star of Universal films, albeit relegated to B-movies. This time the mummy was Kharis and a few, somewhat feeble attempts at creating some mythology came with the introduction of tana leaves, which like Popeye's spinach, give Kharis his strength. Kharis largely popularized the portrayal of mummies as a stiff, slow, relentless and almost unstoppable ghoul and zombie-like monsters. In the Mummy’s Hand (1940) he was played by western star Tom Tyler. In the follow-ups, The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) and The Mummy’s Curse (1944), Kharis was played by Lon Chaney Jr, more famous for playing the Wolf Man. The mummy comedy subgenre endured with the British quota quickie, A Night of Magic (1944) and another Three Stooges mummy film, Mummy’s Dummies (1948).
 



 

After two Three Stooges movies with mummies, it was obligatory for Abbot & Costello to do one, which they did with Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) -- they'd already met Dracula, Frankenstein, Jeckyll & Hyde, Captain Kidd, "the Ghosts" and even Boris Karloff. Strangely, the American mummy then almost completely disappeared from the screen. In Mexico, however, the Aztec Mummy made several appearances beginning with La Momia Azteca (1957) and continuing with La Maldicion de la Momia Azteca (1957) and La Momia Azteca vs el Robot Humano (1957). Another Mexican mummy appeared in the Tin Tan vehicle, La Casa del Terror (1959). In the UK, Hammer takes over with Christopher Lee as Kharis in The Mummy (1959), following up with a couple more. Pharoah’s Curse (1957) depicted a blood-sucking mummy, doing little to dispel the notion of the mummy being a derivative monster.



The 1960s weren't terribly kind to the monster movie genre in the US, although Europe, Japan and Latin America made many. La Momia Azteca was re-cut and edited together with new footage and released in the US as Attack of the Mayan Mummy (1963). In Mexico, Luchadoras contra la Momia (1964) pitted the mummy against female wrestlers. In the UK, Hammer produced The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1965) and The Mummy’s Shroud (1967). In America, the little-seen Mummy and the Curse of the Jackal (1967) finally pitted a mummy against another monster (a were-jackal) in Las Vegas.

 
By the 1970s, most mummies rested in peace, coming out of their tombs in a TV movie here (The Demon and the Mummy - 1976), a Santo appearance there (Santo en la Venganza de la Momia - 1971) and Las Momias de Guanajuato - 1972) and the occasional Spanish Eurohorror movie (1973's La Venganza de la Momia and El secreto de la momia egipcia). Somewhat surprisingly, Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) was the first mummy film to adapt Brams Stoker’s mummy novel into a film. It was also noteworthy for having one of the first female mummies in film and one played without bandages by Valerie Leon.





The 1980s followed with more of the same. The Awakening (1980) again adapted Stoker's novel. The Curse of King Tut's Tomb (1980) was another TV movie. Dawn of the Mummy (1981) was a low budget, Zombie-inspired film. La momia nacional (1981) was Spain's obligatory offering. O Segredo da Múmia (1982) was Brazil's first mummy picture. Time Walker (1982) was unique in its portrayal of an alien mummy. The Tomb (1986) was one of Fred Olen Ray's early directorial efforts.
 


In the 1990s, the mummy failed to be revived until the end of the decade. First, Tony Curtis filled in for a recently-departed Tony Perkins in The Mummy Lives (1993). Under Wraps (1997) was a made-for-TV children's film. The Mummy aka Eternal aka Trance (1998) was probably the first mummy film about an unintentional mummy, one mummified by natural occurences, with a protagonist who was mummified in a peat bog. Cult Australian director Russell Mulcahy made Tale of the Mummy (1999). The mummy genre only really came back to life with the Brendan Fraser adventure/comedy/fantasy franchise, beginning with The Mummy (1999), which returned Imhotep, albeit with re-imagined origins, and the mummy film.



The 2000s have truly re-animated the mummy genre in a variety of forms. There've been many low budget, direct-to-video titles and even a handful of softcore skin flicks.
 
Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (2000)
Lust in the Mummy’s Tomb (2000)
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Belphégor - Le fantôme du Louvre (2001)
Ng goh haak gwai dik siu nin (2002)
Mummy's Kiss (2002)
Mummy Raider (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Attack of the Virgin Mummies (2003)
The Mummy: Evil Unleashed (2003)
7 Mummies (2005)
The Fallen Ones (2005)
The Kung Fu Mummy (2005)
The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty (2006)
Terror in the Pharaoh's Tomb (2007)
Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
My Mummy (2008)
 

In addition to the man mummy films, there have been several mummy characters in cartoons over the years, including Hakushin in InuYasha, Mumm-Ra in Thundercats, the cast of Mummies Alive! and Tutenstein in Scooby-Doo in Where's My Mummy?

 
Computer Games saw a minor revival in mummy interest beginning in the late '90s with Mummy-Tomb of the Pharaoh (1997), Choose Your Own Nightmare: Curse of the Mummy (1999), Mummy Mystery Starring Mercer Mayer's Little Monster Private Eye (2001) and Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy (2006).


The video game industry has also benefit financially from re-awakened interest in mummies with The Mummy (2001), The Mummy Returns (2001), The Mummy (2002), Mummy Maze (2003), Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (2003) and Mummy-Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008).
 

In music, the mummy has failed to inspire anywhere close to as much devotion as other classic monsters but there have been rare examples. The Verdicts did "The Mummy's Ball," The Distortions had "The Mummy" and Bob McFadden memorably performed "Mummy." There was the band The Mummies, and last October Babl Bijits were mummified for a Halloween performance here at Amoeba.











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