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This review is from: The Mummy's Shroud (Blu-ray + DVD)  (Blu-ray)
The first of Hammer's Egyptian outings, 'The Mummy' (1959), had style and panache on its side while the last, 'Blood From the Mummy's Tomb' (1971), had glamour, originality and wit. The two Mummy films in between however, or so the theory goes, are somewhat underwhelming. That's partly true in that The Mummy and Blood from the Mummy's Tomb are the best films in the cycle but all the same The Mummy's Shroud (1967) is still a terrifically enjoyable film and much more original than its reputation implies. It is also, perhaps, the best ensemble piece Hammer ever made.
The plot, you won't be surprised to hear, concerns a group of Egyptologists being bumped off one by one after they discover the tomb of the boy Pharaoh Kah-to-Bey. What makes the film a success, however, is the quality of the cast (especially the ladies, who are all superb); the wit of the script and John Gilling's inspired direction. As the excellent accompanying documentary on the disc points out the biggest problem with the Mummy films is that you are always left with the same basic scenario, namely a bandage-swathed monster acting as a lone serial killer. Gilling's solution was to turn this into a virtue by making the Mummy's attacks brilliant set-pieces and by giving the victims sufficient character to make you care about their fate. Add to this an original twist and a dash of subtle depth in that all the women in the film, from Catherine Lacy's brilliantly creepy fortune teller Haiti to Maggie Kimberley's cool and intelligent linguist Claire de Sangre and Elizabeth Sellars' character Barbara Preston, long suffering wife of the boorish Stanley who finances the expedition, all have, to one degree or another, genuine second sight. The men, meanwhile, can barely see what's in front of their noses. Also it is worth noting that this film sees Michael Ripper's finest hour as he plays the character of Longbarrow, Stanley Preston's long-suffering secretary and perhaps the most put-upon and miserable character in any Hammer film. He's a poor old chap and no mistake, but he steals every scene in which he appears.
The opening ten minutes which consist of a bit of historical background from ancient Egypt are, admittedly, rather tedious and uninspired (they're none too convincing either with what is clearly an English quarry standing in for a supposedly heat-drenched Egyptian landscape) but after that the film takes flight with some excellent acting and inspired direction (in particular the way the Mummy is filmed - looming in a crystal ball in one instance and being viewed by a character wearing broken glasses in another) and the script is great fun with heroism, shabby behaviour, comedy and drama all being played to great effect. It might be 'minor' Hammer, but it is still entertaining and not without some superb set pieces. The quality of the restoration for the blu ray is also superb with the reds, greens and inky blacks all shining through. It's great fun, and better than its general reputation suggests. In short, if you have seen the other Hammer Mummy films then you really should see this one too.