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Living Dead Double Act
on 22 May 2010
Here we have a creepy double dose of walking dead movies that were made in the 1960s by Hammer Studios. Here's the lowdown on each film:
THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (1966)
Directed by John Gilling
Starring John Phillips, André Morell, David Buck, Elizabeth Sellars, Michael Ripper, Tim Barrett, Richard Warner, Maggie Kimberley, Catherine Lacey, Roger Delgado, Eddie Powell, Dickie Owen, Bruno Barnabe, Toni Gilpin, Toolsie Persaud, Andreas Maladrinos
In Egypt in 1920 a group of British archaeologists discovers the tomb of a Pharoah called Ka-to-Bey. Ignoring all the usual warnings, the archaeologists excavate the tomb and eventually put the artefacts on display, including a mummy and its shroud that bears an ancient coded inscription.
It turns out that if the inscription is decyphered it has the power to bring the mummy back to life and, this being a Hammer Horror movie, that's exactly what happens. The grumpy old mummy then goes on a murder spree and starts killing people associated with the expedition.
This is probably the least well-known of all of Hammer's mummy movies (they made four in total) and it holds some significance in the history of Hammer as it was their last film to be produced at Bray Studios in Berkshire. This film is competently directed by John Gilling and features a fine cast of well-known character actors including Hammer-regulars André Morell and Michael Ripper. The cast also features Maggie Kimberley, who was also in Michael Reeves' "Witchfinder General", and Roger Delgado, who was best-known for playing The Master in "Doctor Who" in the early 1970s. The mummy was played by Hammer stuntman Eddie Powell, who doubled for Christopher Lee in many films. It is a common notion that the film was narrated by Peter Cushing but I am not sure that this is actually the case. It does not sound like Peter Cushing to me and when I tried to check this on The Internet Movie Database it said that this information was unconfirmed.
PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966)
Directed by John Gilling
Starring André Morell, John Carson, Diane Clare, Jacqueline Pearce, Michael Ripper, Marcus Hammond, Alex Davion, Dennis Chinnery, Louis Mahoney, Roy Royston, Ben Aris
Strange things are happening down in Cornwall. Someone with a knowledge of voodoo is bringing the dead back to life. Can Doctor Peter Tompson and his mentor, Sir James Forbes, find out who is doing this and, more importantly, why they are doing this and put a stop to all this hocus-pocus?
Like "The Mummy's Shroud", "Plague Of The Zombies" was directed by John Gilling and this film is one of two films that became known as Hammer's "Cornish Classics" - the other one being "The Reptile". There is a really spooky atmosphere that pervades throughout this movie and this is most evident in the famous dream sequence set in a cemetery where the dead start to rise up from their graves. Once again, there is a good cast, including John Carson as Squire Hamilton and Jacqueline Pearce (who also appeared in "The Reptile" and went on to play one of the baddies in the sci-fi series "Blake's 7").
Both of the above movies are rich in style and atmosphere and make interesting viewing for anyone who is a fan of 1960s British horror films.