The Mummy

Dir: Terence Fisher
Star: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, George Pastell, Yvonne Furneaux

After Hammer teamed up with Universal, they got the rights to do "official" remakes of the Universal back-catalogue, instead of tiptoeing around the public-domain version. This was the first such, combining elements from The Mummy's Hand and The Mummy's Tomb. A trio of Egyptologists, John Banning (Cushing), plus his father and uncle, open the tomb of Princess Ananka, despite dire warnings from local Mehmet Bey (Pastell), of what will befall them. The father is left alone in the vault, and is driven made by something he sees. Back in Britain three years later, something breaks into the asylum where he's kept and strangles him. Turns out Bey is intent on making his curse come true, using the living-dead mummy of Ananka's high priest, Kharis (Lee), who was walled up after trying to bring the princess back to life [the whole forbidden love thing, etc.]. Needless to say, the police are not exactly convinced by Banning's explanation. Fortunately, it turns out that his wife, Isobel (Furneaux) is the spitting image on Ananka. Really, what are the odds?

I think it's time for a franchise reboot, with "fast" mummies, much like they did with zombies. Maybe they could have an Al Qaeda cell, using them for terrorist purposes or something. You'll have plenty of time to consider such ideas because, much like the mummy itself, this takes it own sweet time to get going. On the plus side, I now know a lot more than I used to about the order of mourners at Egyptian funerals, courtesy of a lengthy, tedious flashback, where Christopher Lee looks a bit like that bloke from Stargate, which is pretty disturbing in itself. After this Discovery Channel special on burial rites concludes, and the bandaged version of Kharis starts rumbling about, things perk up, though Banning shows a disturbing lack of thought as he tries to fend off the mummy. Hint: it can't catch you, if you blow its fricking legs off with your shotgun. Also, conveniently, the mummy understands English. I guess you have to do something when you've been entombed for 4,000 years. Palpable nonsense, that's just about watchable.

[November 2010]

Mummy dearest
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