In the 1920s, eminent Egyptologist Sir Basil Walden (André Morell) leads an expedition into the Egyptian desert to find the lost tomb of Kah-to-Bey, a young Egyptian prince who fled into the desert to escape a rebellion, with his loyal servant Prem. The archeologists become lost in the desert sand and their financier Stanley Preston, whose son is in the group, arrives in Egypt and heads out into the desert to find them. He finds the group near the tomb and they go in together where Preston insists on taking the remains back to Cairo to be displayed. Back there however, the mummified Prem continues to protect his master from those who disturbed his tomb, while the one man who could save them, Sir Basil, is locked in an insane asylum...
Hammer's third mummy film is probably their most generic - a typical "restored monster" storyline follows the basic formula to the letter; from an opening scene showing the back story, the introduction of the team who will uncover the creature and finally the stalk and kill scenes. Fortunately the screenplay, written by director John Gilling, at least makes the material watchable and with the characterisation he adds some variation - Sir Basil could easily have been a Van Helsing clone, while Paul Preston is never just a typical "dashing hero", the Stanley Preston character is clearly supposed to be an unlikable and irritating man and has the potential to become very annoying to the viewers as well, but his interations with his assistant and his wife are cleverly written and add some subtle humour. Rather less subtle though is a comic relief scene after the first killing, which comes in crashing contrast to the rest of the film but is mercifully brief. Fairly paced throughout, the film never otherwise falters and builds to a nice, if not unexpected climax.
John Gilling's direction is good, but this seems to be one of the lesser funded of the Severn-Arts co-productions - the desert scenes in particular never escape the "British Quarry" look. As usual for Hammer the sets are well made - the tomb and the occultist's house are real highlights, but the urban exteriors are never particularly convincing. Gilling does liven things up with some creative camera angles, a few handheld shots and some quite elaborate deaths. Unfortunately the mummy is a bit of a let-down, although apparently based on a real mummy from the British museum its face looks like a cheap papier-mâché mask. Don Banks provides a solid orchestral score with the usual themes that are associated with Ancient Egypt.
The cast on first inspection seems to be a Hammer B-team grouping, with nether Lee nor Cushing, nor any imported American lead, but they actually provide some strong performances. The ever reliable André Morell had headed up Gilling's effective Plague of the Zombies (1966) the year before and is on top form again here, in the tomb scene alone we can tell his lust for discovery, his distain of Preston and his growing sickness from the snake bite, all without a word being said. Character actor John Phillips (Torture Garden (1967)) provides a memorable performance as Stanley Preston, managing to make his character dislikable while never actually annoying to watch. Hammer's favourite bit-part player, Michael Ripper, gets one of his very best roles as Preston's tormented assistant while Roger Delgado (Dr. Who's The Master) is almost unrecognisable as the temple keeper, speaking a convincing native tongue.
Unlikely to win any awards for originality and often overlooked as a B-picture, The Mummy's Shroud does what it sets out to do and manages to stay enjoyable throughout. There are enough mummy scenes to please genre fans, while a special mention should be made for any Michael Ripper fans who will find one of his best performances here. Partly recommended.
|Anyone famous in it?||André Morell - a versatile British charactor actor who appeared in Hammer's enjoyable adventure She (1965)|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||John Gilling - an occasional Hammer director who worked on their impressive horror Plague of the Zombies and earlier helmed a number of adventure films including Pirates of Blood River (1962) and Scarlet Blade (1963)|
|Any gore or violence ?||Some blood in the death scenes but no gore.|
|Any sex or nudity?||None|
|Who is it for?||Fans of Hammer horrors and mummy films should enjoy this.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 1.66:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
A fine looking print with only slight damage and grain.
|Audio||English mono audio - sounds fine.|
|Region||Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL|
|Availability||Now out-of-print and hard to find in the UK|
|Other regions?||Released by Anchor Bay in the US as a single disc, or a double bill with Plague of the Zombies. Similarly strong print along with trailers and an episode of the dull "World of Hammer" television series. Out-of-print but still available. Released in Germany (as Der Fluch der Mumie) with the same features as the US disc and a lengthy photo gallery. Now out-of-print. Released in Spain as El Sudario de la Momia with English and Spanish audio, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.|
|Cuts?||Fully uncut. Print used is English language.