David DeCoteau’s Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy is not for the faint of heart. Unlike most horror films, the thrills and chills don’t come from the monster or gore effects, but the homoerotic tension palpable in nearly every frame of the film. DeCoteau is one of the most prolific horror filmmakers today with 50 plus films released by Paramount Home Video, HBO, Regent Entertainment, the SciFi Channel and Here! TV, a gay pay per view channel. Under the name of Rapid Heart Productions, he has written and directed films like Leeches! (2003), The Brotherhood II: Young Warlocks (2001), and Beastly Boyz (2006).
His films are filled with witches, monsters, werewolves and zombies, but what keeps DeCoteau’s fans coming back is the Abercrombie and Fitch-style beefcake he casts in the leading roles. DeCoteau defines his audience as, “mainly gay men, but quite a few straight girls and even a few straight guys who show them to their girlfriends” and as an openly gay man, he enjoys making films that celebrate male beauty.
Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy does just that. The film opens on an isolated rural compound, where six archeology students are spending the summer studying mummified remains found in an ancient Aztec temple. The temple was erected in honor of Tlaloc, the rain god and the mummy found inside turns out to be Telaloc’s servant. All is well until Norman, the geek of the group reveals himself to be the ancestor of Aztec high priests of Tlaloc, and raises the mummy to do his will.
Mummy wants a piece of the action.
Norm uses the mummy to take out the professor in charge of the study, and then sends it out to cut a swath through the remaining students on campus. The only two left standing after the mummy’s nighttime attacks are nice guy Don and Stacey the virgin. Norman has his mummy capture Stacey, as she is the vital ingredient in a virgin sacrifice that will bring about the apocalypse.
I may not believe he’s the descendant of Aztec priests, but those leopard print arm warmers look fabulous.
DeCoteau’s films successfully occupy a new sub genre of the horror film: gay niche horror, by flipping the traditional horror formula from T&A to D&A. DeCoteau comments on his inability to “compete in the saturated T&A market. There is too much product” whereas his films have now created a unique demand for hunky males in horror. This switch creates some gender equality in DeCoteau’s films compared to past horror features. Women in horror films have been an object of the cinematic gaze for years. Take Ripley in her barely-there underwear from Aliens or any one of the nameless bimbos that succumbs to Michael’s knife in the Halloween series. DeCoteau’s work raises some interesting questions about objectifying the male body in horror in a way that is simultaneously exhilarating and unnerving.