Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960)

Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963)

Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)

Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Mario Bava's Kill Baby, Kill (1966)

Sergio Martino's The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (1971)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks on High Heels (1971)

Duccio Tessari's The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

Emilio Miraglia's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

Peter Newbrook's The Asphyx (1972)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks at Midnight (1972)

Richard Friedman's Doom Asylum (1972)

Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (1972)

Emilio Miraglia's The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Sergio Martino's Torso (1973)

Alfred Sole's Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (1981)

Juan Piquer Simón's Pieces (1982)

Harry Bromley Davenport's Xtro (1982)

Wayne Berwick's Microwave Massacre (1983)

Joseph S. Cardone's The Slayer (1982)

Stephen King's Firestarter (1984)

Buddy Cooper's The Mutilator (1984)

Larry Stewart's The Initiation (1984)

Steve Miner's House (1985)

Tibor Takacs The Gate (1987)

Ethan Wiley's House II: The Second Story (1987)

Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage (1988)

Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Juan Piquer Simon's Slugs (1988)

James Isaac's The Horror Show (1989)

Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Lewis Abernathy's House IV The Repossession (1992)

Anders Jacobsson's Evil Ed (1995)

Wes Craven's Mind Ripper (1995)

Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster (1997)

Terence Fisher's The Mummy (1959) Retrospective and Analysis

The Mummy (1959) on IMDb

In the year 2000 BC, Princess Ananka, high priestess of the temple of Karnak, set out on a pilgrimage, bound for Amtak, the reputed birthplace of her god. The great procession travelled for three months, when the princess was stricken with a sickness from which she died. The body of the princess lay in state in her own tent, while the involved and lengthy mourning ceremonies took place. Then her body was prepared for embalming by the incredible process known only to the ancient Egyptians. First, it was anointed with the holy oils. Then the embalmers, with natron and sweet spices prepared her for everlasting preservation. And thus she lay for seventy days in her bath of natron. Custom decreed that after purification, the body of the princess should be returned to the coastal plains where she had ruled in life, but Kharis, high priest, for reasons of his own, chose to ignore custom. Here she had died and here she would remain for all time. He caused a tomb to be prepared close to the place of death, and it was to this tomb that the ceremonial cortege moved to in final procession. Centuries of time had laid down the laws governing the order of the procession. The Sektet Boat for bearing the spirit of the dead to the afterworld, the living god, personification of the recorder of souls, Anubis, guardian of the tomb, the head of the goddess Hathor, maidens bearing the Ushabti, symbols of mythical power and significance, the royal mummy itself, the mortal remains of princess Ananka, Kharis, high priest, the personal representative of his god, Karnak, nursing within him a terrible secret...

The tomb had been hewn deep in the side of a mountain, designed to remain inviolate for all time. Although a thousand miles from her home, the princess was laid to rest with the full pomp and circumstance which was her divine right. As the high priestess of the god Karnak, to have done less would have been committing sacrilege. Under the watchful eye of Kharis, the royal mummy was taken from its bier by Nubian slaves and was carried into the tomb, behind it walked Kharis, behind him came the casket containing the heart of the princess. Much blood was to flow during the succeeding days, many were to die, both for the further glorification of the princess and to ensure that the location of the tomb remained a secret. The Nubian slaves were put to the sword, their fate was ordained, as was the fate of the six maidens, and they all died so that their spirits would accompany that of their princess into the afterworld, thus started the final rites, rites that continued for six days, culminating in the sealing of the tomb. That night, Kharis returned to the tomb alone, and violated the royal and sacred seal to regain entry. In life, the princess had been loved by Kharis, it was a forbidden love, the high priestess being bound by all vows to the god Karnak himself, but now Ananka was dead, the vows were no longer binding. Kharis now attempted the ultimate in blasphemy, by using the timeless Scroll of Life, said to have been written by the hand of the god Karnak himself, he tried to bring back to life the princess he loved. For this dreadful profanity, Kharis was sentenced to have his tongue cut from his mouth, so that the cries he would utter during the fate that awaited him should not offend the ears of the gods. Death was not for Kharis, nor was life. For his sins, he was sentenced to remain for all time on guard near the body of his princess. He was buried alive in a secret tomb, specially prepared for him.

The Mummy (1959) Terror From the Tomb

We listen intently as John Banning, portrayed by the enigmatic Peter Cushing, explains to Raymond Huntley the trials and tribulations of the legend of Ananka, and the burial rites of an ancient Egyptian ceremony; immediately, we are transported to the year 2000 B.C., witnessing a colourful observance, overflowing with, as Michael Carreras, Hammer Film’s producer, describes it, “Egyptian Razzmatazz”, we are treated to scenes of opulence, as Kharis, performed by the exuberant Christopher Lee, surrounded by circumstance and pomp. We see fabulous props, designed by Hammer extraordinaire Bernard Robinson and his future wife, Margaret Carter, including the Sektet Boat, the Mask of Anubis, Ushabti symbols, and of course, the tomb of Ananka. We must also mention the stunning costumes, courtesy of Molly Arbuthnot and her assistant, Rosemary Burrows, colourful, energetic and extremely detailed, and all of this makes us aware of the fact that Terence Fisher’s The Mummy is a world away from Hammer’s previous Gothic horrors, notably The Curse of Frankenstein and its sequel, The Revenge of Frankenstein, and Dracula.

The Mummy takes place in Egypt, 1895, where archaeologists Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer) and Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) are close to discovering the entrance to the tomb of the fabled Princess Ananka, high priestess to the great god, Karnak. Stephen's son, John (Peter Cushing) has unfortunately fractured his leg and is unable to accompany his father and uncle as they prepare to enter the tomb, however, before they can enter the sealed chamber, they are approached by Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), who informs them in no uncertain terms that if they continue their operations, they will be placed in the gravest danger, reminding them of an ancient saying, “He who robs the graves of Egypt dies”, this warning remains unheeded and the men enter the tomb, where they discover the sarcophagus of Ananka, “Lady of the two kingdoms”, Joseph sets off to inform John of their find, leaving Stephen to explore the rest of the tomb, he discovers the "Scroll of Life" and begins to read from the parchment, however, as Joseph informs John of the recent discovery, a piercing scream is heard, coming from the vicinity of the tomb and Stephen is found, slumped across the tomb, mumbling incoherently.

As the expedition comes to a close, John and Joseph discuss Stephen's mysterious ailment, revealing that he is now back in England, where the doctors suggest there has been no change in his circumstances, more importantly, the damage may be permanent. With the artefacts removed, the archaeologists prepare to seal the tomb for the last time, John reveals that he has worked in dozens of tombs, “Seems the best part of my life’s been spent amongst the dead”, and he suggests that the tomb of Ananka appears to have an aura of menace, believing that something evil is at work. With the tomb sealed, Mehemet Bey prays to the “great god Karnak”, and promises to avenge the desecration of the tomb, all will suffer for their blasphemy, using the ultimate instrument of revenge.

Some three years have passed since the unfortunate events in Egypt, and we find ourselves at the “Engerfield Nursing Home for the Mentally Disordered”, where Stephen Banning is undergoing a remarkable transformation, as Doctor Reilly (Willoughby Gray) explains to John, who finds it hard to comprehend that for three years, he hasn’t even acknowledged that he had a son, as does the doctor, who presumed that the elderly gentleman had suffered a permanent stroke to the brain, it should be incurable. Alongside John is his wife, Isobel (Yvonne Furneaux) who asks whether Stephen will get better, but the doctor simply doesn’t know, his condition could be temporary. John visits his father, who has clearly suffered and aged tremendously and after a variety of niceties, a visibly upset Stephen talks about his experiences in Egypt and warns John about a “living mummy” from the tomb of Ananka, brought to life when he read from the Scroll of Life, however, John dismisses this notion, leading to his father becoming upset, John attempts to calm his father by suggesting that nothing really happened on that fateful day, but Stephen thinks his son is a fool, and states that someone has discovered the whereabouts of the Scroll.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Gardner’s Arms, two handymen, Pat (Harold Goodwin) and Mike (Denis Shaw) have been asked to deliver a crate, containing Egyptian relics, to a “foreigner”, and set off with their consignment. At the nursing home, Stephen appears to be in a somewhat confused state, and begins to smash out the windows of his apartment, in a bid to attract the attention of the passing handymen, this results in them becoming terrified and ultimately losing the consignment in a nearby swamp. Early the next morning, Pat explains to the local constable (George Woodbridge) that the crate should be left at the bottom of the swamp, as there was something about it that wasn’t quite right, however, they are interrupted by Mehemet Bey, who professes to be the owner of the crate, and he informs the Constable that the crate contained nothing but Egyptian relics. Later that day, John visits the nursing home, where he discovers that his father has taken a turn for the worse; again, the doctor is unable to explain the events, and Stephen Banning is confined to a padded cell for his own safety, something his son finds intolerable.

Mehemet Bey, meanwhile, appears at the swamp, removes the “Scroll of Life”, and proceeds to recite from the parchment. As he begins to read, the murky water begins to bubble and a strange creature emerges, struggling to find its feet, and rises to the surface. Mehemet Bey orders the Mummy (Christopher Lee) to “destroy those who desecrated the tomb of our princess”, and with a final struggle to regain balance, it strides off into the darkness, in the direction of the nursing home, where Stephen Banning remains convinced that “something” is trying to kill him, but is nonetheless shocked to discover a strange figure snapping the bars at the window, and moments later, the Mummy comes crashing through the barrier and strangles him to death. 

The following day, an inquest is opened by the coroner (John Stuart) into the death at the nursing home, which results in a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown, which John and Joseph find unbelievable and set about trying to discover a motive for the crime. At his father’s home, John and his Uncle trawl through mountains of paperwork, hoping to find the smallest clue as to what or who may have been responsible for the ghastly deed, but the conversation soon leads to the day when Ananka’s tomb was discovered, to which Joseph puts the whole episode to sheer excitement and the fact that he was overworked, however John disagrees, and suggests that something else may have happened, as they talk about the Scroll of Life and the living mummy. Joseph thinks the whole thing is nonsensical, leaving John to ask if his Uncle knows about the legend of Ananka, and goes on to explain the theories behind it (see above for details), and with the legend explained, Joseph describes it as an “historical myth”, but John suggests that part of the story is fact, and attempts to convince his Uncle that it may be that the other part of the “legend” may well be true, but Joseph defines it as fantasy and suggests that John should treat it as such if he doesn’t want to suffer the same fate as his father.

Meanwhile, Mehemet Bey once again preys to his god Karnak and orders Kharis to seek out and destroy the second of the infidels who desecrated the tomb of Ananka. On the way to completing its mission, we find a poacher (Michael Ripper), obviously the worse for wear, busily setting down traps, but he is disturbed by the bandaged fiend and quickly disappears behind a bush, fearing for his life. He can only watch on in terror as the creature staggers past. The poacher quickly heads to The Red Lion and informs the landlord of his close encounter, “I’ve seen the like tonight that mortal eyes shouldn’t look at, ten foot tall, he was! Swathed in bandages, come lumbering through that wood like a great bear, I tell you, it wasn’t human”, he shrieks. At the Banning residence, Joseph indicates that he is going to retire for the night, and suggests that John should do the same, and leaves the room, but as he crosses the hall, the wooden doors crash open and Kharis bursts through and begins to strangle a terrified Joseph, leaving John little choice but to attempt to stop the hulking creature, which he does with aplomb but to no avail as he is shrugged to the floor. Realising that Joseph’s life is in danger, he dashes back into the drawing room, opens the rifle cabinet and takes out a weapon, but he is too late as the elderly gentleman falls to the floor. Nonetheless, John takes aim and fires a couple of rounds which causes very little damage, he follows the creature and fires several shots but alas, Kharis has disappeared.

Terrified and fearing for his life, John calls the local police and Inspector Mulrooney (Eddie Byrne) is dispatched and assigned to investigate the murders, however, he remains sceptical and refuses to believe John’s fantastical tale about “living mummies”, but he persists and explains the events that led to his father losing his mind. A flashback indicates that as Stephen reads from the “Scroll of Life”, Kharis was reanimated and discovered by Mehemet Bey, who quickly forces him back into the chamber, leaving the elderly gentleman mumbling incoherently, whilst the Egyptian removes the parchment from the tomb. John states that he didn’t believe what his father was telling him, but now thinks differently, however, Inspector Mulrooney isn’t convinced, dealing in “cold, hard facts”, and ridicules the very notion that two men could have been murdered by a dead man. John suggests that he may well be next in line to be killed, leaving the Inspector to investigate the case further, beginning with the poacher, and the two handymen, Pat and Mike, and finally the Police Constable, all have their own tales to tell.

Meanwhile, Mehemet Bey prepares Kharis for his third and final task, which will release him from his eternal bondage, and orders him to destroy the last member of the party who desecrated the tomb of the high priestess, John Banning. Whilst attempting to unravel the mystery himself, John notices that his wife Isobel bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Ananka, “she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world”, Isobel is frightened and wishes for the “maniac” to be quickly apprehended, but she suspects that John knows something about the mysterious events, and he expresses his fears, and orders his wife upstairs, where she is to lock the door and to stay there. Isobel follows the wishes of her husband, who awaits the inevitable rampage of the Mummy, who, as expected, comes crashing through the French windows and attacks John, almost strangling him to death, however, when Isobel comes to the aid of her husband, Kharis immediately stops, a hint of recognition flickers through his eyes, as he strides purposefully towards a terrified Isobel, before halting before her, crestfallen, and then leaving without finishing his appointed task.

After conversing with Inspector Mulrooney, who if it were not for the corroboration of the locals, would almost certainly have had John certified insane, however, he remains unconvinced and asks about the Egyptian man who has recently arrived in the area. John has little knowledge but thinks that it is too great a coincidence and sets off to confront Mehemet Bey, who appears to think the final task has been completed, meaning they can return home, with the great god Karnak avenged, however, he doesn’t account for the appearance of John, and is visibly shocked. Both men mock the other’s beliefs, John insisting that the great god Karnak was an insignificant deity, whilst Mehemet Bey accuses his elder of being meddlesome and intrusive, and sets a plan in motion to destroy the last of the desecrators, indicating that this time, they will not fail. Back at the Banning’s home, John, Isobel and Inspector Mulrooney set about configuring their next move, as they feel that Mehemet Bey has been pushed into a corner and he will have to come to them, and sure enough, the Egyptian arrives with the Mummy in close proximity, who knocks the Inspector unconscious, whilst Mehemet Bey deals with the poacher and a policeman, before making their way into the house, where Kharis attacks a terrified John, who fires off a couple of blasts with the shotgun, alerting Isobel, who once again finds her husband almost being strangled to death, and orders Kharis to stop, but he doesn’t recognise her as her hair is different and continues to squeeze the very life out of John. After loosening her hair, and again ordering him to stop, John falls to the floor, gasping for breath.

Astounded at this latest development, Mehemet Bey orders Kharis to kill Isobel and finish the task but he refuses, leaving the Egyptian with little choice but to do it himself, but as he attempts to carry out the deed, Kharis races to protect Isobel and murders Mehemet Bey, grabs the “Scroll of Life”, and scoops up an unconscious Isobel, and takes her back to the swamp, quickly followed by John, Inspector Mulrooney and an assortment of policemen. John desperately yells to his wife, as Kharis heads deeper into the swamp, and as she regains consciousness, she orders Kharis to put her down, which, with reluctance, he does. Her husband tells Isobel to slowly start walking towards him, and orders the policemen to open fire when she is clear, and in a hail of gunfire, Kharis is submerged into the murky water, taking the fabled “Scroll of Life” with him, the adventure at an end. 

The Origins of The Mummy

Following the success of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958) Hammer Films were riding on the crest of a very important wave, both in the United Kingdom and abroad, as the company began to cement their place as the studio of choice for gothic horror. No sooner had production finished on Dracula, producer Anthony Hinds, alongside executive producers Michael Carreras and Anthony Nelson Keys, began work on a sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein, entitled The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) where we find the Baron (Peter Cushing) has escaped the executioner and fled to Germany, under the guise of Doctor Victor Stein, where he plans to restart his experiment, the transplantation of a living brain into a new and unblemished body. Many of the crew who worked on the previously aforementioned films returned, including Jack Asher, Bernard Robinson, Phil Leakey, James Needs, Jimmy Sangster, and director Terence Fisher.

In September 1958, Hammer produced an adaption of the Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, which saw the reunion of Terence Fisher, as director and Peter Cushing as the astute detective, Holmes, Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville, whilst André Morell featured as Doctor Watson; Hammer’s attempt to bring to life Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s breathtaking novel, the first adaption to be filmed in colour, is deemed to be one of the most critically acclaimed in the studios’ history, with Time Out Magazine describing it as “the best Sherlock Holmes film ever made, one of Hammer’s finest movies”. Two months later, filming began on The Man Who Could Cheat Death, featuring Anton Diffring as Dr. Georges Bonnet and Christopher Lee as Dr. Pierre Gerard, whilst Hazel Court stars as Janine Dubois; directed by Terence Fisher, The Man Who Could Cheat Death was originally supposed to have been a vehicle for Peter Cushing, but he turned the role down a few days before shooting, citing exhaustion, a move which infuriated Hammer’s executives, and in particular, James Carreras.

During this illustrious period, Hammer had agreements with several major studios, including Paramount, Warner Brothers and Columbia, who had purchased a 49% stake in Bray Studios, but it would be Universal Studios who would provide the catalyst to future success, particularly after the undeniable triumph of Dracula, which had reportedly saved Universal from bankruptcy, as a result, the studio gave Hammer “carte blanche” to remake any of their horror back catalogue, and this new relationship was described as, “one of the biggest co-production deals ever entered into between a major American company and a British producing organisation”, as Hammer’s managing director, James Carreras, explains, “Universal have the greatest library of classic horror and shocker subject of any company in the world. That they should have made this library of over a dozen famous titles available to us is a wonderful honour. Their decision is a measure of their delight at the box office success of Dracula and its quality as a production. Al Daff has told me personally that he knows of no company in the world that could have delivered a better job. Last night, when I spoke to him on the transatlantic telephone, I told him we have already chosen our first three subjects; they are The Phantom of the Opera, The Invisible Man and The Mummy”.

Production on The Mummy began on 23rd February, 1959, under the stewardship of producer Michael Carreras, after Anthony Hinds appeared to be “unenthusiastic”, as Carreras explains, “Tony Hinds didn’t think that The Mummy was serious enough, and by this time, he was steeped in the true gothics, such as Frankenstein and Dracula, and it is quite true, The Mummy is a little bit more colourful and a little bit more adventurous, but I liked doing it, and in fact, the only horror films that I ever personally made were the Mummy, I never did the Dracula film myself although as executive producer, I was involved as a facet throughout all of the pictures over the years, but they weren’t my subjects. Tony was the master at these films and he had Terry Fisher there, and why interfere with a winning formula”.

As with The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, Hammer brought on board “Britain’s top horror stars” Peter Cushing, who would portray archaeologist John Banning, and Christopher Lee, as Kharis; opposite Cushing, Yvonne Furneaux was offered the role of Isobel, wife of John Banning, and she remembers that both actors were ever the consummate professionals, stating “Christopher Lee was totally involved in what he was doing, he attacked his part like an actor would attack Hamlet with the use of his voice, whilst Peter Cushing was the same, he was dedicated to getting each scene done as best as possible and in the most imaginative way possible”. Other notable roles were offered to Felix Aylmer, as John Banning’s father, Stephen, and Raymond Huntley, as Joseph Whemple, who, incidentally, has often been credited as being the first actor to play the role of Count Dracula, however, that particular accomplishment must go to Bram Stoker himself, who, in 1897, performed impromptu at Sir Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, shortly after the publication of the novel, and it’s interesting to note that we have a scene in “The Mummy” where we have the “old” Dracula, Raymond Huntley, being strangled to death by Kharis, played by the “new” Dracula, Christopher Lee, a chilling turn of events!

To bring Hammer’s adaption of The Mummy to life, regular screenwriter Jimmy Sangster was asked to write a script, based on John L. Balderston’s original screenplay, and he recalls, “As Universal wanted a remake from Hammer, I was told to screen the Lon Chaney originals. Always one to do what I was told, I sat and watched them; at least I think I watched them. I know I watched at least one because I used all the same character names”. This is actually an important aspect to look at, as many critics tend to think Hammer’s previous movies, namely The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, are remakes of the old Universal classics from the 1930’s, and this simply isn’t the case, we should really think of them as stand-alone films in their own right, based on literary publications, however, with The Mummy, technically, the term “remake” can be partly attributed to the picture, as there wasn’t any literary source available to speak off, in terms of the character “Kharis”, or “John Banning”, these characters had been taken from Universal’s previous Mummy movies, namely The Mummy (1932), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) and The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), whereas Universal’s original movie has its origins steeped in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1890 short story “The Ring of Thoth”, and the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, in 1922, by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, which sparked interest in everything Egypt, as well as the “Curse of the Pharaohs”.  

As we previously stated, The Mummy is clearly a world away from the gothic atmosphere and intensity of The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, but this in no way demeans the film in any way whatsoever. As the movie opens, we have Franz Theodor Reizenstein’s sublime score, his first and last for Hammer Films, and this sets the tone for the remainder of the film, beautifully constructed, with the usual colour coordination of Jack Asher’s cinematography in evidence throughout the picture, namely green, as with Ananka’s Tomb, and red, in particular, the lurid murk of the swamp. Watch in awe as George Pastell reads from the “Scroll of Life”, and Christopher Lee (and his double, Eddie Powell) slowly emerges from the swamp, covered in all manner of nastiness; it’s a powerful scene, extremely memorable.

As we progress through the film, Peter Cushing’s performance as John Banning is unparalleled, although there are periods where he looks rather gaunt and uncomfortable, but this we can put down to the fact that he was recovering from a bout of dysentery, an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, which “had thinned me down” and forced the actor to pull out of The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959) filmed shortly before “The Mummy”, although screenwriter Jimmy Sangster explains that this was due to Cushing’s disinterest in the script.

Opposite Peter Cushing, featuring as the film’s “monster”, is Christopher Lee, and his standard of performance is simply breathtaking, especially when you consider that he is wrapped in bandages for the majority of the film; as Kharis, he spends a great deal of time crashing through windows and smashing down doors and in one particular scene with Raymond Huntley, he almost dislocated his shoulder, but where Christopher Lee really excels in the role is bringing the raw emotion and physical presence of the character to life, not with words as Kharis has been deprived of speech, but with the ability of expression and mime, it’s an astonishing performance when you consider, up until this point, we have had several less than impressive and slightly cumbersome cinematic mummies, whereas Kharis is lean, incredibly fast-moving and agile.

As with Hammer’s previous films, the sets were designed and furnished by Bernard Robinson, and filming took place at Bray Studios, whilst the opening scenes, the funeral cortege, and the larger swamp scenes were filmed at Shepperton Studios; Robinson was often described as the “Marks and Spencer of the film world”, and the sets are colourful, energetic and vibrant. We must also surely mention the time and effort that went into Roy Ashton’s stunning make-up effects, and in particular, the appearance of Kharis, “swathed in bandages”, and this consisted of Christopher Lee being wrapped in strips of rags, joined up with latex, which would then become rigid, meaning Lee was unable to move his mouth, something that delighted director Terence Fisher, as “nobody could understand Christopher as he walked around swearing underneath his wrappings”.

We simply can’t look back at The Mummy without mentioning the rather colourful and exquisite first flashback from the film, in which producer Michael Carreras finally gets to inject “the pretty bit”, as he describes the segment, which wasn’t originally included in Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay, as he explains, “I added a procession because I wanted to add a bit of Egyptology and Razzamatazz, and it was the one gothic that had the sort of pretty bit, the Egyptian bit”, and there is no doubt whatsoever that Carreras’s vision is pretty, he wanted The Mummy to be more of a spectacle than a gothic horror, and instructed Sangster to elaborate further, creating a love story between Kharis and the deceased Ananka, and giving Christopher Lee some much needed dialogue in the process, however, this was a segment of the film that caused much angst at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) as originally, Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay called for the “Nubian Maidens” to be slaughtered in frame, and for Kharis to have his tongue removed, with the “small piece of mangled, bloody flesh” being held up for public view, a “Sangster cocktail”, as John Trevelyan termed it.

Alongside The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, The Mummy can be regarded as a cornerstone of the Hammer horror canon and although it never reached the heights and adulation of its more famous counterparts, looking back at the movie has been a refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and especially watching the film in High Definition, it has never looked as beautiful as it does now. We can appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into making The Mummy what it is today, a true horror classic. From the incredible period costumes and trinkets, selected by Molly Arbuthnot and Rosemary Burrows, the stunningly vivid photography of Jack Asher and Bernard Robinson’s meticulously constructed sets, often reused and refurbished for next to nothing, whilst Franz Reizenstein’s harmonious score sounds delightful, not forgetting Terence Fisher’s ability to create the most wonderful scenes and Roy Ashton’s astonishing make-up, but surely the film must be judged on that of its Monster, and Christopher Lee excels, portraying an absorbing character, putting everything into the role. Overall, The Mummy is an accomplished film, beautifully shot, and thoroughly deserves its place amongst any horror collection.    

©PaoloDeRossi/bloodyhorrific.com

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