Okay, I’m doing a more popular monster, so I get to visit a Hammer film this year! In 1959, one of the more prolific Hammer directors, Terence Fisher, as well as one of the more prominent writers, Jimmy Sangster, tackled Hammer’s version of The Mummy.
It starred the usual Hammer all stars, Peter Cushing as John Banning and Christopher Lee as the mummy. As in the other Hammer monster movies, their mummy movie was based on Universal’s version, but maybe not the one you’d think. Instead of re-adapting Universal’s 1932 The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, this movie takes it’s story from two of the later Universal mummy sequels; The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942). With a little bit of the climax from The Mummy’s Ghost (1944). And while the Karloff version is held in higher regard, I feel the sequels have a bit more fun with the subject.
So, how did Hammer do? I love the Hammer aesthetic. Check out my reviews for Horror of Dracula or Curse of Frankenstein. When Hammer works, it’s dynamite. When it doesn’t, you get well meaning missteps like Curse of the Werewolf.
I won’t say this particular movie was a misstep. But it wasn’t a favorite. It just seemed to drag a lot, especially in the middle. But while the story was lacking, the other Hammer touches where there. The set design is GREAT.
The tombs look great and are set designed in that spectacular way that Hammer usually does. I mean check out the above picture of the recently opened tomb. It’s not been opened in thousands of years but the green lights apparently still work. Amazing.
Also, Cushing and Lee are great as always. I just love watching Cushing be gentlemanly and awesome.
And Lee’s mummy looks just incredible as well. Especially when he’s getting shotgunned in the chest by Peter Cushing.
And check out this “ancient scroll” that is the basis for much of the plot of this movie.
Looks like it was printed last Thursday at Kinkos. That being said, it’s beautiful looking. Take a look at the inscriptions on the left picture (click it). That’s some wonderfully detailed imagery for just a few seconds of on screen footage. That’s Hammer for you.
Here’s where I think the problem lies. The mummy, as a monster, is essentially boring. He’s too passive. Much like my issues with traditional zombies, I don’t really enjoy watching mummy movies. And that’s my main problem with this movie. The mummy is used as “muscle”, the second banana if you will. It’s probably why I like the Brendan Fraser mummy movies a bit more because I feel like that mummy was in charge. He actually felt dangerous. While it was fun to watch Cushing and Lee, the overall story was a bit boring, but that’s a problem with most mummy movies for me and not necessarily a problem with Hammer’s movie.
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.