|Hammer Files: The Mummy (1959)|
POSTED BY TERENCE NUZUM, March 2, 2015 Share
Hammer Films had already established themselves as the new face of horror for the modern atomic age. Blood flowed. But, like Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula before it, The Mummy wasn't just about being in your face with the violence. It had story chops to boot.
The Mummy was a dream come true to me. Ever since I was little The Mummy was one of my favorite monsters. Let's face it, he was the original zombie. Unfortunately, Universal's Mummy film didn't give me the bang for my buck I wanted. I wanted the Mummy dragging his bandages around murdering people in the night. What I got with Karloff's film was a mood piece. Yes there were the sequels but they weren't available to me until years later. Hammer's Mummy film gave me what I wanted. The Mummy was creepy looking and the murders were aplenty. Irony about me and probably most kids is that they hadn't seen the Universal Mummy sequels but Hammer's creative team sure had.
Hammer's Mummy went into production following two successful Gothic staples. When it came to the Mummy though Hammer knew they had no works of fiction to base their film on. They were forbidden from copying Universal plots and makeup. The Mummy seemed to sneak that by though at least where the plot is concerned. The plot and characters are a collage of Universal Mummy sequels. There is a priest who rises the Mummy back to life, played by George Zucco in The Mummy's Hand, and George Pastell (known to us Doctor Who nerds as Klieg from the classic 2nd Doctor story Tomb of the Cybermen) in Hammer's Mummy. Peter Cushing's character is also named Banning like the main character from Mummy's Hand and their are two cockney drunks that would've easily fit into a James Whale film. All that being said Hammer blows all Universal's sequels away.
The films plot follows a curse/body count formula. So you are at least expecting a new attack or murder within every 15 minutes or so. And when this Mummy attacks, it's intense. Christopher Lee's Mummy is the most decayed looking corpse in any Mummy film ever. His stare is anguished yet haunting. His attacks are animalistic. A pile of dust this Mummy is not. Peter Cushing's character unfortunately is rather uninteresting and stale. Cushing himself seems like he isn't much into it. Cushing excels at evil roles but I never felt he quite fit into the hero characters. His portrayal of Banning proves this.
Director Terence Fisher pulls out some of the coolest scenarios such as Cushing's character attacking the Mummy head on and driving a fireplace poker through his dusty gut. Also of note is the vicious attack on Banning Sr. in the asylum. Fisher is never known for being a very atmospheric director but with The Mummy he more than adequately piles on the fog and nighttime scenes adding to the downbeat location of the mires.
The Mummy is one of my favorite of the early Hammer horror films. Though as an adult I now see the superior film that Karloffs Mummy was to the point where it might be my favorite Universal horror film. But Hammer's Mummy will always have a place in my heart as my favorite childhood Mummy movie. And whenever I want just a straight forward slasheresque Mummy film this one will always be ready and fired up to go in my DVD player. So pop this film in, light some incense, bust out the tanna leaves but whatever you do...don't read that scroll!
"Ghastly Reflections" is ©2015 by Terence Nuzum. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2015 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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