The secrets behind that horrific lip lock

By Josh Wolk
May 11, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

Thanks to reincarnation, Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez) — whose forbidden affair led to his eternal bandaging — are reunited in The Mummy Returns, and their passionate, centuries-delayed kiss would be an eye-dabbing spectacle, if not for the stomach-turning fact that she is smooching his tattered, decomposing head. Think the From Here to Eternity beach scene…if Deborah Kerr were Frenching a jellyfish. ”It’s hard to get kissing right on film without it being gooey and disgusting,” says writer-director Stephen Sommers. ”Except in this case we wanted it to be gooey and disgusting.”

To create this gross-out make-out, Industrial Light & Magic visual effects supervisor John Berton had Velasquez kiss an apple and then just air so the F/X team could later insert a computer-generated mummy. But nothing generated the heat of an earlier reference shot of Velasquez kissing Vosloo (who must be thrilled he was deemed a better kisser than a piece of fruit). ”We said, ‘We’re never gonna get anything better than that kiss, no matter how long we stay here,”’ recalls Berton, who settled on that footage, digitally removing Vosloo from the frame.

Berton’s team also added romantic details that could make a necrophiliac squirm, like having the princess running her fingers through the mummy’s… uh…skull. ”You really don’t know what it’s going to look like [when you shoot it],” says Velasquez, who calls the finished product ”quite disgusting,” a review that makes Berton swoon. ”We’d show dailies, and people would groan,” he says. ”We’d go, ‘All right! We’re on the right track!”’

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 125 minutes
  • Stephen Sommers
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