23 May 2008 | Witchfinder-General-666
Hammer's Beautifully Haunting Mummy
Egyptian Mummies are fascinating creatures - yet I am sure that I'm not standing alone with the opinion that their representation in Horror cinema is a bit weak compared to other Horror creatures. And I don't mean to say that there were too few Mummy films made, but that great Mummy films are quite rare. The only Mummy film that I would really consider an absolute masterpiece is Karl Freund's brilliant "The Mummy" of 1932 starring Boris Karloff. While no other Mummy film has ever come close to the brilliance of the Karloff film, Hammer's 1959 re-telling of the story is easily my second-favorite of all Mummy films I've seen. After the success of "The Curse Of Frankenstein" (1957) and "Horror Of Dracula" (1958), two true Classics which revolutionized British Horror cinema, Hammer's dream-team, Horror-icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and director Terence Fisher reunited for "The Mummy" (aka. "Terror Of The Mummy") in 1959. And while this is not quite as brilliant as the two aforementioned films, in my opinion, "The Mummy" is definitely a great and wonderfully picturesque Horror film that can easily be considered a Hammer Classic.
When British archaeologists, one of them John Banning (Peter Cushing) discover an ancient Egyptian tomb, they open the grave of a priestess who died 4000 years earlier. The desecration of the grave of the priestess unleashes a curse, which awakes the vengeful guard Kharis (Christopher Lee) who had been buried with the priestess... And what could be more entertaining for a lover of Gothic greatness than seeing a vengeful Egyptian Mummy haunt a Hammer-style Victorian England, even more so if this vengeful Mummy is played by none other than the all-mighty Christopher Lee? Lee himself once stated that this was his personal favorite of his Hammer films. It is hard to say why, as the role that initially earned him his status as one of Horror's all-time greatest was certainly that of Dracula; my guess is that he must have gotten tired of the Dracula role after a while. Yet it is more than understandable that Lee was fond of this film. "The Mummy" has a unique elegance in settings and colors, and some of the scenes, which I won't give away, are truly immortal moments of Gothic greatness. The equally great Peter Cushing is, as usual, brilliant in the role of the scientist John Banning. Director Fisher once again delivers the great trade-mark Hammer elements (foggy grounds, eerily luscious colors,...) in a particularly beautiful manner and Franz Reizenstein's score intensifies the gloomy atmosphere. All things considered out of Hammer's three original re-tellings of stories that had already been told in Universal Pictures in the 30s, "The Mummy" is not quite as essential as "Curse Of Frankenstein" and "Horror Of Dracula". It is, however, nonetheless a highly atmospheric, haunting, beautiful and downright great Gothic classic that no Horror fan can afford to miss!