31 Days of Halloween 3 – Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

mummy1Leonard Maltin was apathetic in review of The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), but I think Hammer films produced a good-looking film and it dishes out horror, with a side order of allegory.  This movie has polarized the critics.  Some consider it a classic, while others consider it a two-star bore, like Leonard Maltin.  I think it is somewhere in the middle, but it is definitely more underrated than most Hammer horror offerings.  For one thing, it does more with less, like most good small budget films, but the movie has a cast of nobody I can even come close to recognizing.  Not even Peter Cushing turns up for this one, which means this movie needs its story to be strong, or it is going to be a stinker.  Thankfully, it is not that bad, but it is flawed.

mummy2Ever since the original Mummy by Universal in 1932, audiences have been entertained by ancient Egypt.  There’s just something about Egypt, the pyramids, and the time-period that people like.  The architecture and the imagery of Egypt is beautiful.  This movie uses that to its advantage, highlighting carvings, pottery and Egyptian decorations in almost every scene.  At the beginning, we follow the camera in a first person walk through a tomb and we see Egyptian imagery first hand.

The movie opens nearby at an archaeological camp.  The characters John Bray and Hashmi Bey argue about what to do with the contents of an ancient Egyptian tomb.  The argument is simple foreshadowing, but most of the discussion and the dialogue paints the archaeologists as scared of the curse of the mummies tomb.  Their greedy, American backer arrives at the camp and he demands a show to take on the road, forcing them into an inescapable situation.  Most of those involved in the dig are later killed by The Mummy.  Shouldn’t have partnered up with the greedy American, I guess!

mummy3The opening is very good at building the premise for this film.  This movie has a different plot than any other Mummy movie, and has no connection to previous sequels.  The American backer, Alexander King, takes over the expedition, and he can’t stop talking about money.  Now the embodiment of vengeance, The Mummy kills him.  It is a fairly simply movie and straightforward plot.  Greed is evil.  The Mummy kills the evil guys.

mummy4 Michael Carreras is at the lower end of Hammer’s rotating ensemble of directors.  He probably could have done a better job, but gets most of his criticism for some bad choices, like the annoying music.  However, the style is just about as good as in any other Hammer film. Some of the shots stumble around the action and Carreras only seems capable of close-up dialogue scenes.  

In one scene, Adam and Annette examine some hieroglyphics that have been ripped from the tomb for the tour and they have a strange conversation.  They both wonder about the meaning behind the pictures and their significance.  The conversation is serious and is supposed to explain the Mummy’s backstory.  What the characters say about pictures in general is very interesting.

Man of the Arts:  A whole lifetime contained in a few pictures.

Naive Woman:  Probably more than what will be left of our lives.

mummy6Much like Bruce Campbell in the Evil Dead series, Sir Giles summons The Mummy by fiddling with scrolls and knowledge beyond  his comprehension.  The Mummy staggers in and murders him.  The monster itself looks like a rag doll, quite the contrast in appearance to Boris Karloff from the 1932 original.  Honestly, a rag-tattered Mummy is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a mummy, so I didn’t mind it.  

mummy7The end of this movie makes very little sense, as some greasy English gentleman turns out to be the Mummy’s long-lost brother.  He orders the Mummy to kill Annette, but the Mummy doesn’t want to, so they fight and the Mummy kills him.  The ending ruined the whole thing for me.  I endured over an hour of Annette’s stupid, incomprehensible accent for this ending.  There is something good in it though, as I think the brotherly struggle was trying to be Cain and Abel, which is a surprising allegory to find in a horror movie.

This is a really flawed Mummy movie, but I disagree with the critics about its visual style, because I like the way it looks.  As a side note, this movie was released as a second feature to The Gorgon, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, which drips of irony, as the two actors had great success with the Mummy remake in 1959.

31 Days of Halloween Movie Marathon

1 – Frankenstein and the Monster from HELL (1974)
2 – Dracula has risen from the grave (1968)
3 – The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
4 – Evil Dead II (1987)
5 – Dawn of the Dead (1978)
6 – Les Diaboliques (1955)
7 – The Howling (1981)
8 – Friday the 13th (1980)
9 – Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
10 – Hellraiser (1987)
11 – Let the Right One in (2008)
12 – Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1984)
13 – House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
14 – The Strangers (2008)
15 – The House of the Devil (2009)
16 – Psycho (1960)
17 – The Orphanage (2007)
18 – The Amityville Horror (1979)
19 – The Raven (1963)
20 – Blue Velvet (1986)
21 – Repulsion (1965)
22 – Dementia 13 (1963)
23 – The Vanishing (2008)
24 – Halloween (1978)
25 – Shaun of the Dead (2004)
26 – The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
27 – An American Werewolf in London (1981)
28 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
29 – The Exorcist (1973)
30 – The Ring (2002)
31 – Night of the Living Dead (1968)