Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mummy Dearest

Third of the original Hammer colour horrors was their version of The Mummy from 1959, again directed by Terence Fisher and starring Cushing and Lee.

By this time Hammer had arranged a deal with Universal which allowed them to use the titles and characters from the original films. So the plot is initially very similar to the Karloff film, particularly the back story about the high priest and his love for the princess and the lookalike heroine. Again the Hammer version keeps the locations fairly limited around Cushing's house and a nearby swamp. There are also some comic turns from Michael Ripper and a few other Hammer regulars.

Peter Cushing gives his usual fantastic turn as the hero but yet again Christopher Lee steals the show as the Mummy, and this time we have a fully mobile and murderous member of the living dead swathed in those crusty bandages. The Mummy walks and he looks suitably terrifying. Lee really put his whole body on the line for this role, apart from having his head completely buried in the make-up he also sustained a number of injuries. He did his back in carrying the heroine Yvonne Furneaux, sprained his ankles on hidden pipes while wading through the studio swamp. the exploding squibs that created the effect of bullet holes caused burns, and then he dislocated his shoulder crashing through an incorrectly rigged prop door, a moment which I think you can see in the film. It was a good job he was already wearing all those bandages.

Unfortunately when Lee is not on screen this one becomes a bit dull and is the least chilling of the first three Hammers. Three out of five death scrolls I think, but I can't leave it there. Let's dig up some more Hammer and find out how the Frankenstein and Dracula franchises continued. Watch this space.

No comments:

Post a Comment