Legion of the Dead (2005)

Starring Claudia Lynx, Courtney Clonch, Rhett Giles, Bruce Boxleitner, and Zach Galligan

Written and directed by Paul Bales

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Despite having their names splashed at the top of the DVD box art, Zach (Gremlins Galligan) and Bruce (Babylon 5) Boxleitner are hardly the stars of the film. Galligan plays a horny professor quickly dispensed with in the film’s first 15 minutes and Boxleitner plays the local sheriff that only shows up periodically to investigate. Both roles are ultimately so inconsequential to the plot that if they’d been dropped altogether it would have had very little impact on the rest of the film.

Also, the film’s original title was Unravelled, a much better, and given the cheeky nature of titling a campy mummy movie like this Unravelled, more fitting title than the zombie movie-sounding Legion of the Dead. I don’t know why The Asylum chose to re-title the movie with the same name as a truly rancid horror film of just a few short years ago, but then I also have no idea how the fanged Egyptian mummy from the cover art for Ancient Evil 2: Guardian of the Underworld found its way onto the box art for this flick.

The underground tomb of an ancient Egyptian priestess has been unearthed in…I believe they said it was the Mohave Desert, although there seemed to be an awful lot of trees for a desert. I digress. If you’re wondering how an ancient Egyptian burial tomb found its way to America, I will just say that the script does provide an explanation involving an ancient trade route with the Americas and said priestess being banished from her homeland for being all evil and such. It’s all quite hokey and implausible yet still more logical than the explanation for how the evil alchemist ended up on that island in House of the Dead.

The pompous Egyptologist in charge (Rhett Giles, who I do believe appears in virtually every film The Asylum produces) has brought in a brilliant undergraduate named Molly to help translate the text found within, which she proves to be more adept at than him, much to his chagrin. Much to Molly’s chagrin, her ex-boyfriend Carter is part of the group. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Molly unwittingly recites some text she’s translated that awakens the mummified priestess, who looks quite hot for a 4,000 year old woman.

After performing the sexiest mummy unwrapping you’ll probably ever see, the evil priestess Annoh-tet is ready to pick up right where she left off centuries ago. All she needs are six male souls to reanimate her henchmummies, her ceremonial ankh/dagger, and the typical virgin sacrifice required for the ritual that will unleash her unholy Egyptian demon puppet master into our world. But first, she ought to find some clothes. The gorgeous Claudia Lynx plays Anoh-tet, and writer/director Paul Bales wisely keeps her in some state of undress for the duration of the film. She starts off wandering around in nothing but the remains of the mummy bandages she has yet to completely rip off, then spends quite a bit of time stark naked (I was beginning to think they were going to use her like Mathilda May in Lifeforce), eventually ends up borrowing a belly shirt and some Daisy Dukes, and finally ends up spending the remainder of the movie in traditional Egyptian priestess garbs that I guess must have just been laying around the tomb somewhere because I have no idea where the costume came from. I think Miss Lynx’s abs get as much, if not more, screen time than her face. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

Now like any good back from the dead evil Egyptian super being, Annoh-tet possesses some supernatural abilities. In her case, soul stealing by way of electrodehydration, the ability to instantly identify virgins by merely grabbing their crotch, and the sixth sense to know exactly where to be when a horny, drunken African-American is looking for a hot babe to get it on with.

Shortly after resurrecting, Annoh-tet meets up with Molly, whom she initially mistakes for one of her priestesses, and Molly’s (Virgin Alert!) kid sister, both of whom prove to not be the sharpest knives in the drawer when the pair assume the naked Persian goddess they just found in the seedy motel swimming pool that only speaks a long dead Egyptian dialect is another one of professor’s students named Annette. To Molly’s credit, it doesn’t take her much longer to figure out that “Annette” is actually “Annoh-tet” resurrected, yet she still doesn’t seem nearly as freaked out as one would expect under the circumstances, or for that matter, all that concerned with the whole “her resurrection will help bring about the end of the world” prophecy she deciphered earlier.

From there on out, Annoh-tet goes around zapping guys with lightning that melts their faces off while reducing them to dry bones and, in the process, swipes their souls and implants it into one of the other six warrior mummies still awaiting resurrection, while Molly and Carter try and come up with a way to defeat the evil Egyptian supermodel, the increasingly deranged Egyptologist that has given in to becoming her high priest – Egypt really did have an awful lot of priests and priestesses, didn’t they? – and her six powerful yet dim-witted henchmummies, as well as protect her kid sister from harm and rekindle their once smoldering romance.

During the movie, I kept having flashbacks to that episode of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” where Xander is seduced by the Incan mummy princess that everyone thinks is just a South American exchange student. I think that’s the biggest flaw with Legion of the Dead; there’s a real “been there, done that” feel to the material. The movie isn’t bad, per se. By the low standards of low budget, direct-to-video horror movies these day, Legion of the Dead is well crafted. It’s just a bit flat at times, mainly because the story is something you’ve seen before and can figure out exactly where it’s headed. Plus, the low budget eventually catches up with the film as the jumbled climactic showdown can’t help but give off that “we’ve run out of money so let’s just wrap this up as quickly as possible” vibe.

Legion of the Dead is at it’s best when the six mummies resurrect and go on a rather over-the-top killing spree – they really hate the human spine for some reason – at the local motel and Molly and Connor try to fend them off with whatever is at their disposal at the moment. The movie could have used a bit more energetic moments like that.

2 1/2 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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