By Gordon Anderson
Blood. Gore. A towering monster who kills violently and indiscriminately. An ancient curse that plagues a young woman’s life.
“Blood of the Mummy” is independent writer-director Christine Parker’s fifth feature-length horror film under her Sick Chick Flicks banner, and it contains all the hallmarks of a genre that’s currently experiencing something of a revival. Shot and edited over about three years in locations across North Carolina, it premiered in March at the Cary Theater in Cary.
Parker has lived in Apex since 2013 but lived in Sanford for about a dozen years prior to that and began her film career here in the mid 2000s. She said “Blood of the Mummy” was originally conceived of as a short film, but quickly expanded to feature-length after she found investors willing to fund her vision.
“I wanted to do an (Edgar Allen) Poe story, and I found a short story about a mummy,” explained Parker, who by day works as a digital media specialist. “It really wasn’t his best story, and it ended up turning into its own thing. It doesn’t have much relation to the Poe story other than there being a mummy.”
Two Sanford residents were critical in helping Parker achieve what she wanted with the film.
Bill Mulligan, a science teacher at Lee County High School, has worked with Parker since “Second Death,” one of her earliest short films. He plays a central character in “Blood of the Mummy” and, as usual, helped put together many of the film’s special effects, including some of the bloodiest scenes.
“The vision is one thing, but the reality is that we only have the resources to do certain stuff,” Mulligan said recently, noting that all the stand-ins for blood and internal organs that go flying when the titular mummy begins one of his rampages can present challenges over time.
Enter Ceirra Doll, a Sanford-based makeup artist for whom “Blood of the Mummy” was her first feature length project with Sick Chick Flicks. Doll’s husband had been a student of Mulligan’s several years back, and although she’d met Mulligan and Parker a time or two, they were largely unaware of her talents, which in addition to makeup include face painting and creating masks out of modeling clay.
Doll worked with Mulligan to create the costume for the film’s monster — which looks foreboding whether on film or being held up by its creators on a bright spring day on Moore Street in downtown Sanford.
“This (film) is pretty next-level,” explained Doll. “We were determined to make this one pretty gory.”
Mulligan and Doll laughingly described the arduous process of creating the effects for a scene in which a character’s cranium — and we’re not trying to spoil anything here — is irreparably damaged by the mummy, noting that due to the independent nature of their work they had very few chances to get the job done right. Thanks to the pair’s expertise, though, they were able to get their disturbing shot.
“It was the most disgusting thing,” Mulligan said.
“It was wonderful,” Doll replied with a chuckle.
Those interested in seeing “Blood of the Mummy” can attend a screening on April 6 at the Alamo Draft House in Raleigh, which will also feature a special effects demonstration and a Q & A session with the cast and crew. Parker said there’s also a party for the film planned on June 8 in Pittsboro that will double as a fundraiser for Parker’s Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival.
Parker, Doll and Mulligan all feel like “Blood of the Mummy” is some of their best work to date. For Parker, a big part of that that is due to her wanting to do something a little different.
“Once I had the idea, I did a lot of research, watching old mummy films,” she said. “They’re usually about trying to defeat the mummy. We tried to tell the story from the perspective of a young woman who was the reincarnation of the mummy’s lost love.”
As such, the film has several twists and reveals that add depth to the characters and balance the blood and gore with plenty of mystery and intrigue.
Parker and Mulligan both said Doll’s addition to the team helped them make an important step forward with their craft.
“I wish we’d had her on board a long time ago,” Mulligan said. “This was her first movie with us, but not her last.”
“Bill has always been great. He’s always been reliable, and he always has good ideas,” she said. “Ceirra added a new dimension. She’s really good with the artistry and the makeup, and she’s a joy to work with.”
Parker said that ultimately, the film — like all of her projects — is a labor of love.
“You’re not doing it for the money, that’s for sure,” she said. “Even though we had a decent budget and that’s great, you still have to learn to be really creative. And if people are in it for egos or glory, they don’t usually last very long. You have to be able to get along and love working together, and we do. That’s why we keep making films together.”
Going forward, Parker hopes to get the film distributed via online outlets like Hulu and Amazon, as well as get it screened at various film festivals. Meanwhile, she’s got an idea for her next film, which also has its roots in the fiction of Poe, and which she hopes will be even better than “Blood of the Mummy.”
“I learn a little bit more with each one so hopefully I’m getting better each time,” she said. “I love that we were able to take this one to the next level, particularly with sound and the sets we used for this one.”
Many of Parker’s older films are available on YouTube at her Sick Chick Flicks channel. She’s planning to launch a Sick Chick Flicks website soon which will host all of her work, including “Blood of the Mummy.”