The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

Rating: C+

Dir: Michael Carreras
Star: Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland

Studio head Carreras usually left directing to his minions, but was at the helm for this one, which follows much the same vein as its predecessor, The Mummy. A tomb is disturbed by Egyptologists, dismissing tales of a curse, only to find, after they return to England, that vengeance wears bandages. John Bray (Howard) and his fiancee Annette Dubois (Roland) are the scholars, with Fred Clark playing expedition funder and American showman Alexander King. The last-named intends to turn the mummy of Ra, who was killed by his brother, and the other relics they retrieved, into a travelling sideshow – which does not sit well with the locals. Then there’s Adam Beauchamp (Morgan), an independently-wealthy fan of the subject, who befriends the team, as they work on setting up the exhibition for its debut in London. Unfortunately, when King cracks open the sarcophagus on the debut night, he’s in for a bit of a shock…

Though there are are few of the Hammer regulars on-screen here – blink and you’ll miss Michael Ripper – this is a slight upgrade over its predecessor, even if it’s never less than entirely obvious where the script is going. If you can’t tell who the villain is going to be almost as soon as they show up, you must have been entombed somewhere for a few thousand years yourself. However, it has some surprisingly graphic (for the era) limb-chopping and implied head-squashing, and that’s a particular shock, with the atmosphere here feeling like something made in the forties, rather than mid 60’s. As before, the set-up is likely overlong, and the film only kicks in when the rampaging starts. However, a big plus is the mummy itself. This time round, as played by Dickie Owen, it provides a much more imposing figure than the tatty one portrayed by Lee previously: it looks like it’s made of solid concrete, and could do you real damage. The genuine sense of menace resulting, is certainly an improvement.