January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

PROJECT An $80 million rewrap, based loosely on the 1932 Boris Karloff chiller but played less as horror than as Indiana Jones-style action/romance.
THE DETAILS Brendan Fraser, 30, wearing more clothes than in Encino Man or George of the Jungle, plays a 1920s adventurer hired by an antiquarian (Swept From the Sea‘s Rachel Weisz) to raid an Egyptian tomb. But d’oh! The pilferers unleash the remains of a monstrous ancient priest (Arnold Vosloo of Hard Target) who wants a new body. Writer-director Stephen Sommers (Deep Rising) spent months on location in Egypt and Morocco giving the picture ”a Lawrence of Arabia feel,” and promises that ILM’s special-effects work on the mummy will ”not be some cheesy prosthetic thing.” Instead, computer-generated images will morph away chunks of Vosloo’s countenance to make him a ”living corpse.”
AT STAKE Speaking of the walking dead, Universal desperately needs a hit to follow Patch Adams, after debacles like Babe: Pig in the City and BASEketball. This is also Fraser’s shot at the stardom that has eluded him despite great grosses for Disney’s George ($100 million plus domestically) and fine notices for the indie sleeper Gods and Monsters.
ICKY APEX Prepare to squint your way through the scene where the title character, still a live human, has his tongue removed. ”We don’t show it, but we show it,” says Sommers. ”It’s so disgusting, in a fun way.” Good thing there’s all that gauze to stanch the bleeding.

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