Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hammer Times - The Mummy!


The Mummy from 1959 continued the Hammer tradition of picking among Universal classics and deriving their own flavorful variation. Pairing the dynamite team of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee together again, this one is going to be good just on that score. These two definitely were able to combine for an effect which was greater than the sum of their parts, a synthesis which added up to entertainment.


The story is pretty familiar. Our mummy Kharis is the recognizable priest who commits sacrilege for love and gets punished by being mummified (sort of) and entombed alive to forever guard a great treasure. That treasure is found by the Banning party and the Mummy is brought to life to seek vengeance. That comes when the elder Banning is made mad and his son is made lame for life. (The limp in this mummy movie is possessed by the hero not the monster). Years pass and things seem to be quiet but all the time a cult has raised the Mummy and plan to use him to seek revenge on those who desecrated the tomb. All this latter action takes place in England, so instead of sands and sun, we get moors and bogs and gloom. That's dandy really. There's much activity, but in the end of course after many deaths, the hero claims the girl and the Mummy gets the shaft.


This one is really really consistent throughout. That's at once good and bad, since the story rarely rises above a simmer. Christopher Lee looks amazing as the Mummy and we slowly see him crumble bit by bit through the movie as his actions take their toll. There's not a thing wrong with this movie, but it's never as exciting as I think it ought to be and while the atmosphere is top notch, it's rarely scary. Quality stuff, solid movie, but not a thrill by any means.

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4 comments:

  1. I did enjoy this also Lee and Cushing great together. The story was familiar very well done with the content and wonderful setting and costume. The only problem was when Cushing used Shotgun again. He should have used a M cocktail.

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    1. This one does do a good job with the atmosphere, style over substance at times. The Mummy looks so menacing, very compelling.

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  2. Many years ago I watched a Peter Cushing interview in which he claimed to have suggested to the director the action of shooting a spear (or arrow or whatever it was) at the Mummy, so that it would sort of make sense of the movie poster wherein the Mummy has a hole in him. I thought it sounded unlikely, and that Peter had invented it for the purpose of supplying an interesting 'anecdote' for the interview. What do others think?

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    1. It all sounds reasonable to me. These things came together fast and with a team that had at this time worked together three times at least, likely they had a give and take on things.

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