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Brilliant Twilight Hammer,
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This review is from: Blood From the Mummy's Tomb [DVD]  (DVD)
Blood from the Mummy's Tomb had a difficult beginning. Peter Cushing had to abandon the project after a single day's shooting when his wife fell ill and the director, Seth Holt, died of a heart attack five weeks into the scheduled six weeks of filming. All the same, and in spite of the odds, Tomb turned out to be one of Hammer's most inventive, intelligent and stylish late horrors. It's always a difficult choice but if I while away a few idle minutes in scribbling down a list of my favourite Hammer horror films then Blood from the Mummy's Tomb is always there, along with Dracula, Plague of the Zombies and a couple of others that come and go as the mood takes me. Tomb is fun, quirky, sexy, original and surreal - everything an early 70s horror film should be in other words.
The plot is based on Bram Stoker's novel The Jewel of Seven Stars - a strange tale of Egyptology, reincarnation and possession from beyond the grave. Unusually for a film about a Mummy there isn't a bandage in sight (aside, that is, from a lovely little nod to tradition in the film's final scene); instead we have Valerie Leon (who gives a terrific performance) as Margaret, a young woman increasingly possessed by the spirit of a long dead Egyptian Queen and out for revenge (or should that be justice?) against those who desecrated her tomb.
What makes the film work so well are the numerous set pieces. The Egyptologists who originally entered the tomb are bumped off one after the other (the murderous scenes in the asylum and the terribly English front parlour being particularly effective). Meanwhile the set designers did Hammer proud from the creepy asylum to Professor Fuchs' basement stuffed with Egyptian relics to the blank, bare house across the road from which a man always seems to be watching - it's all beautifully judged. For once conventional wisdom - which states that the first and last of Hammer's four Mummy films were the best - happens to be right. Blood from the Mummy's Tomb, the final flourish of Hammer-style Egyptian horror, is definitely one of their most surreal, inspired and original outings. It has always been a favourite and as I crawl towards a jaded and cynical old age I still find the film fascinating and compelling. There really is no higher praise than that.