Top positive review
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Gorgeous & Creepy Hammer Horror Winner.
on 6 March 2011
Hammer Film Productions rework some of the classic Universal Studios mummy material to great effect. Directed by Terence Fisher, this is not a remake of the seminal 1932 movie of the same name. Starring Peter Cushing (John Banning), Christopher Lee (Kharis/The Mummy), Raymond Huntley (Joseph Whemple) and Yvonne Furneaux (Isobel Banning/Princess Ananka), the film is written by Jimmy Sangster and was filmed at Bray & Shepperton Studios in England. Tho listed as being filmed in Technicolor, it was actually shot in Eastman Color using the Technicolor process. I mention the latter because Eastman Color has a different hue to it, something that makes this movie all the more affecting as a horror piece.
The plot sees three archaeologists (Stephen & John Banning & Joseph Whemple) desecrate the tomb of Egyptian Princess Ananka. This awakens Kharis, Ananka's blasphemous lover who was buried alive for his unlawful deeds. Taken from the tomb to London by Egyptian priest Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), the three archaeologists find they are being hunted down by the vengeful Kharis. The only salvation may come in the form of Isobel Banning who bears a striking resemblance to Princess Ananka.
This Mummy is adroitly directed by Fisher, his choreography for the action scenes is stunning. Lee's incarnation as the mouldy bandaged one is swifter than most, thus Fisher has him stalking around Victorian England one minute, then the next he's crashing thru doors or windows with brute strength. With murder his (its) only goal. It's a top performance from Lee as he really throws himself into the role, with his dead eyes ominously peering out from gauze swathed sockets sending those little shivers running down the spine. Technically the film belies the budget restrictions that was a staple of Hammer productions. The sets are very impressive with the Egyptian tomb set original and authentic looking, and the swamp based set-up nicely constructed. The latter of which provides two genuine horror classic moments. As first we see the Mummy for the first time as he rises from a foul bubbling bog, and then for the dramatic swampy finale. It's also atmospherically filmed by Fisher, with Jack Asher's photography utilising the Eastman Color to give off a weird elegiac beauty.
This is not about gore, Fisher and the makers wanted to thrive on atmospherics and implication. Something they achieve with great rewards. The Mummy would prove to be very successful in Britain and abroad, thus ensuring Hammer would dig up more Mummy's for further screen outings. None of which came close to capturing the look and feel of this first makeover. Crisply put together and with another in the line of great Christopher Lee monster characterisations', this Mummy is essential viewing for the creature feature horror fan. 8/10