Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)

Michael Carreras directs Ronald Howard in Hammer's enjoyable if unoriginal Mummy film. Sony UK R2 DVD.

The Film

Michael Carreras was the son of Hammer's founder and chief executive James Carreras. While his father saw profit to be made in the gothic horror films, Michael was keen to spread out into other genres and went to Spain independently to helm the Western Savage Guns (1961) but its financial failure did little to convince Hammer of the idea. So Michael returned to Hammer and chose to work on a second Mummy film - taking responsibility for both writing and directing.

In the 1920s a British archeological group in Egypt have found a hidden tomb and unearthed a complete Mummy. Their financer Alexander King is keen to avoid the Mummy ending up in a museum and plans to make a fortune by taking it on a road show around Europe and America. On their return to Britain however, something seems to be amiss as anonymous assailants attack members of the crew and on the opening night of the show, the Mummy is found to be missing...

The story is a pretty typical Mummy affair - the discovery of the tomb, the return to England and the revenge of the creature on those who opened the tomb - almost paralleling Hammer's earlier The Mummy (1959). Fortunately Carreras' script is different enough to make the film at least watchable, most notably with the addition of the American showman Alexander King and the details of his travelling stageshow. The real highlight is the Mummy itself - inspired by Universal's later Mummy films it is portrayed as an unstoppable creature bent on pure revenge and is quite terrifying in scenes. Notably unusual is the fact that it is the 'Pharaoh' himself who goes on the rampage and not just one of his servants.

Unfortunately the script does seem like it could have used a little proof reading first as it has more than a few problems. King's exhibition scenes contain a number of redundent comic relief characters that become rather grating and the attitude of the British police on realising that they are dealing with an undead Mummy is absurdly understated. The dramatic opening murder seems to be all important but is quickly forgotten by both characters and script writers while the ending leaves a number of gaping plot holes (not least the question of how why an exiled and uncrowned Pharaoh received such a traditional Egyptian style burial - particularly if most of his followers were killed).

Although lacking the sheer opulence of the 1959 production, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb is certainly better looking than the impoverished follow-ups. The tomb itself is a thing of real beauty with some highly authentic looking artefacts while Sir Giles' study is very well realised. The Mummy itself is well put together and Carreras works around it very effectively - the creature's first appearance through the London fog is a masterwork. Composer Carlo Martelli provides a pretty standard soundtrack and some of the themes from the 1959 film creep in quiote noticably in a few places.

Filmed at the same time as several bigger Hammer productions, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb has a rather randomly assembled cast with none of their usual main players. Stage actor Terence Morgan is top billed as the sly Adam, imported American actor Fred Clark (Sunset Blvd. (1950)) is superbly cast as the showman Alexander Kent and the familiar bit-player Jack Gwillim (Jason and the Argonauts (1963)) looks quite suitable as Sir Giles. Probably the best performance in the film comes from Ronald Howard and in one scene he is playing with a magnifying glass, a nice nod to his 1950s Sherlock Holmes series. The only reminder that this a Hammer film comes with the casting of Michael Ripper in a brief part and George Pastell playing another Egyptian (after controlling Christopher Lee's mummy in the 1959 film).

Despite a rather lacking script, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb is an enjoyable film with some nice sets and solid acting - the highlight is certainly the mummy itself which appears genuinely meanacing and terrifying. Certainly of interest to fans of Hammer and mummy films.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Ronald Howard - a British actor who starred in a lengthy Sherlock Holmes television series in the 1950s.
Directed by anyone interesting? Michael Carreras - son of Hammer's owner he directed a few films including Maniac (1963) and Lost Continent (1968) and produced many of Hammer's best known films.
Any gore or violence ? A fully seen (although bloodless) hand-chopping at the start and some light blood in other scenes. Nothing particularly gory.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Fans of Hammer horrors and mummy films should enjoy this.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
Good looking print, strong colours and only very mild grain. Some very minor speckling and damage.
Audio English mono audio - good throughout.
French, German, Italian and Spanish dub tracks.
Subtitles English HOH, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Norweigan, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish and Turkish.
Extras None.
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Similar disc has been released by Sony across most of Europe. Released at the end of 2008 in the US by Sony as part of their Icons of Horror set, along with The Gorgon, Scream of Fear and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. Includes similarly strong print along with an original theatrical trailer - English subs and audio only.
Cuts? Fully uncut. Print used is English language.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 19th July 2008.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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