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'Mummy' brings horror genre back to life

Oh, the horrors!

Given the box-office success of "The Mummy," it was inevitable that Hollywood movie studios would become interested in the horror movie genre all over again.In fact, the huge box-office grosses for that film have left officials at Dimension Films unsure of how to handle their long-delayed mummy movie, "Talos the Mummy," also known as "Russell Mulcahy's Talos the Mummy," also known as "Curse of the Mummy" . . . as well as a handful of other titles.

"Talos" has already been released on video in Europe, but Dimension officials are still pondering whether to release it theatrically in the United States before sending it to video here.

Along those same lines, the distributor of 1997's "Legend of the Mummy," starring Louis Gossett Jr., has given that film a higher-than-usual profile for its video release -- with a glut of ads in entertainment industry publications and similar promotions in video chain stores.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures executives have already approached the director and star of "The Mummy" (Stephen Sommers and Brendan Fraser, respectively) about a sequel.

Sommers has also expressed interest in writing and directing a remake of the 1954 classic "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," a project that was abandoned by filmmaker John Carpenter.

That's only the start of things, though. There's a huge slate of horror movies headed to theaters before the end of this year, including:

-- Two spook-house films, "The Haunting," an adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House," starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones (which was previously filmed in 1963), and "The House on Haunted Hill," a remake of the 1958 William Castle film, with Geoffrey Rush taking on the role Vincent Price played in the original.

(They new films are due in theaters July 23 and October 29, respectively).

-- "The Blair Witch Project," one of the most talked about films from this year's Sundance Film Festival, coming to Salt Lake theaters Aug. 6.

-- Tim Burton's unique take on Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (the movie will be called "Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow" . . . I think) with Johnny Depp playing Ichabod Crane and Christopher Walken rumored to be the Headless Horseman. (Release date yet to be determined, probably November.)

-- Three supernatural thrillers, "Stigmata," which stars Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne; "The Ninth Gate," with Depp again; and "End of Days," featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger -- all scheduled to be released before year's end.

-- The long-delayed adaptation of Michael Crichton's sword-and-scares novel, "Eaters of the Dead," now renamed "The 13th Warrior," due Aug. 13.

-- A third (and presumably final) installment of the "Scream" movie series, which should arrive in time for Christmas.

-- Two giant "killer animal" movies, "Lake Placid" (which features a man-eating alligator) and "Deep Blue Sea" (superintelligent sharks), both due in July.

-- "The Astronaut's Wife" (Aug. 27), a science-fiction thriller starring Depp (yet again) and Charlize Theron, which looks to be a cross between 1958's "I Married a Monster from Outer Space" and 1968's "Rosemary's Baby."

If that isn't enough to get your hair standing on end, there are many more projects in the works, including "Seed of Chucky," the latest installment in the "Child's Play" movie series, and the much-talked-about "Jason vs. Freddy" movie, which will pit the villains from the "Friday the 13th" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchises against each other.

Other horror adaptations include "Hellboy," based on the Dark Horse comic book, and a movie version of the "Resident Evil" video game.

And on the animation side, there's also a digitally-animated "Frankenstein" cartoon (co-starring the Wolfman) in pre-production.

There's even been talk of a remake of 1935's "Bride of Frankenstein," presumably a more faithful version than the awful 1985 flick, "The Bride," which starred Sting and Jennifer Beals.

About the only horror monster without a studio deal at the moment is Dracula, not to mention his fellow vampires. Perhaps last year's "Blade" and "John Carpenter's Vampires" tapped out that vein.

Ouch! You knew that was coming, didn't you?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I always felt sorry for (Frankenstein's monster). And Dracula was kind of sexy. But the Mummy was the one monster who really scared me as a kid. That movie terrified me." -- Stephen Sommers, director and co-screenwriter of "The Mummy."

Deseret News movie critic Jeff Vice can be reached by e-mail at jeff@desnews.com