Friday, October 30, 2009


Undistinguished Hammer Studios potboiler which does incorporate one interesting variation on the traditional Mummy story. In 1900 Egypt, a British expedition, led by Sir Giles and including his daughter Annette and her boyfriend John, finds the tomb of Egyptian prince Ra; rather than give the treasures to a museum, the group's backer, an obnoxious American named King, decides to take it all, including the mummy's sarcophagus, on the road to make money. Of course, there’s a curse on the defilers of the tomb and sure enough, bad things start happening, beginning with a shipboard robbery of important papers and an attack on John. When sturdy Adam Beauchamp comes to their rescue, Annette falls for his charms. Soon, the mummy is missing, off on a killling spree starting with King. We get the backstory of Ra, who had his hand chopped off and was killed by his brother Be, and it turns out that brother Be is still alive, and wants the mummy for his own purposes. This element of the story is the one original thing in the movie, and I won’t spoil it with further discussion (though one look at the cast list at IMDb will do that for you).

There are all kinds of problems here: the acting is weak, the mummy is rather portly, and Annette speaks in a strange dubbed-in German accent. Fred Clark, as King, chews the scenery but winds up being the most colorful character in the movie, and despite his overbearing personality, you're sorry to see him go so early. Terence Howard as Beauchamp is also acceptable in his role as a somewhat mysterious stranger whom we're never quite sure if we should like or dislike. Though the mummy is a disappointment, there are two startling scenes of violence: one, in the very beginning, shows the chopping-off of a hand and is remarkably graphic for its day (I admit I gasped out loud); the other, late in the film, involves the mummy crushing someone's head with his foot, and while not graphic at all, it is still an effective shock. The other point of interest is that the stereotypically sinister Egyptian character of Hashmi Bey (George Pastell) winds up being not sinister at all. Not as bad as some critics claim (with a few calling this the worst Hammer film ever), but not one to go our of your way to see--although the Hammer Icons of Horror DVD set is a good one. [DVD]

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