The Mummy – 1959. Dir. Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, and Eddie Byrne.
From Dracula to the Mummy, Hammer Films keeps popping up this month. A pseudo remake of the Universal classic, “The Mummy” was actually pretty heavily influenced by Universal’s “The Mummy’s Curse”, which isn’t an actual sequel to the original Karloff “Mummy” movie. These movies follow a different mummy “Kharis” (Played in the Universal Films twice by Lon Cheney Jr and in the Hammer film by Lee) in his quest to recover his lost love, the princess Ananka.
The Hammer “Mummy” begins in Egypt in the late 1800’s. An expedition team has discovered the previously lost tomb of Princess Ananka. John (played by Cushing) is leading the expedition with his father and uncle, though John is laid out due to a leg injury which is expounded upon for, quite literally, the first 5 minutes of the film. Upon preparing to enter the tomb, a stereotypical Egyptian named Mehemet Bey shows up and informs the crew that they are, essentially, fucking with some bad juju.
These Warnings are of course disregarded by the English expansionists. I mean if they listened to everyone who said “stop” we wouldn’t have Darjeeling tea, the opium trade, or the British Royal family’s alarming level of inbreeding. From here, the standard Mummy story follows. Kharis, a high priest was sentenced to live burial and becomes the titular mummy. His crime was attempting to resurrect the body of the Princess Ananka, whom he secretly loved. Lee does a pretty good job while hes not bandaged up, as always.
Of course the English archaeologists inadvertently resurrect the 4000 year old Kharis and he begins going around killing (at the behest of a particularly disgruntled Egyptian).
Unlike the mummy in the Universal “sequels”, Hammer’s Kharis isn’t just some lumbering hulk, he can climb in windows, and generally moves pretty fluidly for someone that old. And the scene where they show only Kharis’ eyes reminds me a lot of the character “The Burned Man” from Fallout: New Vegas.
Cushing is excellent as always, and is an absolutely amazing asshole when having an argument with Mehemet Bey, essentially calling his entire belief system bullshit. For some reason, I feel like Cushing doesn’t have that big of a part in this movie, even though he’s constantly in it. I just felt like I was always waiting to see the mummy come back to choke somebody else.
Speaking of the violence, this one isn’t nearly as violent as many of the other Hammer films. There’s some beheading, some stabbing, and the throttling but nearly no blood (save from a little on the scimitars during the flashback scene). In fact, the Egyptian kills almost as many people as the mummy, and if you count the fact that Mehemet Bey is controlling the mummy, He kills everybody.
Don’t watch this movie expecting a happy ending. Or any ending really. When I watched it I sort of thought I missed something, but no. Action. Action. Action. Credits. That’s it.
Decent movie, short enough (84 minutes) – check it out.
Story – 4/5
Effects – 2/5
Scare Factor – 1/5
Asshole “Egyptians” – 1 too many
Overall – 3/5