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Published by David Carter on 2015/3/15 (809 reads)
Directed by Lisa Palenica
Review by David Carter

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Released by Tom Cat Films/MVD Visual
Running Time: 80 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo English
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: None
Trailer Online: Yes

Open in new windowShort Version: Black magic and dead teenagers

Horror movies arrived on the scene not long after the advent of cinema itself. By conservative estimates, hundreds of thousands of people have by now been killed in them, the large majority of which have been teenagers. It is for that reason that I tend to give modern horror cinema a bit more leeway when it comes to originality. There’s more than one way to skin a cat but the end result is always a skinned cat, so there’s little point in arguing about how we got there.

Open in new windowNot every horror film is derivative, however. Take for example Lisa Palenica’s ISIS RISING: CURSE OF THE LADY MUMMY, now available on DVD from Tom Cat Films. Sure, some teenagers who really, really deserve it get killed in the movie but ISIS manages to at least make it an interesting journey to the inevitable. The film stars retired pornstar Priya Rai in her first mainstream role in a move that will likely intrigue and disappoint viewers in equal numbers since this is strictly a horror film without any eroticism.

Ms. Rai is Isis herself, the Egyptian goddess whose lover Osiris was murdered by the treacherous Set. A powerful sorceress, she tried to reanimate Osiris but is foiled when Set dismembers the god and spreads his body across the land. In the present day, a motley crew of college students is spending a night in a museum for extra credit. Their professor has granted them an extraordinary opportunity to work with famed Egyptologist Dr. Nasir, but the group is too preoccupied with petty squabbles and horseplay to appreciate it.

Open in new windowUnwisely left to their own devices in the museum’s basement, the teens smoke what they believe to be ancient marijuana. The substance is actually Isis’ “resurrection incense” and burning it reawakens the goddess, who first takes possession of the nerdy Amy. Her dim-witted fellow students don’t notice the sudden change in Amy’s behavior, and the first to wander off alone with her gets his head ripped off for his troubles. Isis’ spirit passes from body to body, murdering along the way, until only two teens and Dr. Nasir are left to stand against her ancient evil.

ISIS RISING meshes together the slasher and body possession subgenres of horror. Unlike other genre mash-ups, it does a good job of satisfying fans of both, despite not breaking any new ground in either. That fact that the movie has an interesting concept carries it through its largely predictable plot. Except for a clever finale, you’ll likely be one step ahead of the film throughout its running time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. ISIS RISING doesn’t aim for much more than being a middle-of-the-road horror film and it accomplishes that goal admirably. Aside from being far too talky in some sections, the film should be received favorably by horror fans.

Tom Cat Films is a newer player on the scene but they’ve quickly built up a large catalog primarily made up of low budget horror and “mock-off” films. ISIS RISING is the former, but the film does manage to be a bit more polished than expect at times although budget constraints do limit the film’s gore content. ISIS RISING isn’t a masterpiece but it doesn’t have to be one to be enjoyable. It’s paced well and will give audiences everything they want; specifically the deaths of some particularly annoying teenagers.
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