The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) [31 Days of Hammer Horror Review]

With Halloween looming large at the end of the month, and Hammer Horror recently making its return to the world of comics courtesy of the fine folks at Titan Comics, we figured now was the perfect time to take a look some of the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.

So this month, Jules is planning to watch every single Hammer Horror movie and share his thoughts with you fine, horror loving people.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of Hammer” by CLICKING HERE.

Released: 1964
Starring: Ronald Howard, Jeanne Roland, Terence Morgan
Director: Michael Carreras

Often overlooked, unappreciated or just plain forgotten about, The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb is nobody’s favourite Hammer film. In fact, it’s nobody’s favourite Hammer Mummy film. Saying that, as flawed as it is, it had its own particular charm.

Following the original Mummy film was always going to be a tough ask. What’s puzzling however is that they chose to follow with a completely new story, without either Peter Cushing or Christoper Lee.  While also replacing both Terence Fisher and Jimmy Sangster with a multi-tasking Michael Carreras? Hmmmm.

At the turn of the 20th Century, a lost tomb in Egypt is uncovered by a British expedition consisting of Englishmen John Bray (Ronald Howard) and Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim) alongside French Professor Eugene Dubois (unbilled Bernard Rebel and his daughter/Bray’s fiancée, Annette (Jeanne Roland).

The artifacts, including the set-piece Mummy in a sarcophagus, are shipped back to England to begin a money-spinning world tour organised by the expediton’s American backer, the Barnum-esque showman Alexander King (Fred Clark), much to the protestations of the Egyptian government, via George Pastell’s Hashmi Bey.

Naturally, it’s not long before The Mummy walks and the murders start, but there is more to this story than simple revenge and the seemingly charming arts patron Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan) knows more than he’s letting on…

You have to commend Hammer for trying something different here, but they go so far the other way that it often just doesn’t feel like a Hammer film at all. Taking the filming away from Bray and populating the cast and crew almost entirely with non-regulars, The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb feels more like a generic horror film than the sequel to their previous classic.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to recommend here, mainly when the titular Mummy is working his way through the expedition. While not hitting the heights of Lee’s empathic version, it’s a lovely design, given extra horror by dint of its missing hand.

Its unveiling is particularly striking, with an unusual silence after the initial shriek of music as the camera cuts around the shocked viewers.

George Pastell is brilliant as always, playing essentially the same character as he did in the first film, only this time as more of a red herring, with his eventual voluntary death under the bandaged foot of the Mummy being a particular highlight.

There’s a likeable cast at work too, from Howard’s dashing archaeologist to Jeanne Roland’s Annette, but it’s Terence Morgan who gets to do most of the heavy lifting.

Initially coming over as a wealthy bit heroic type, his real character bleeds in slowly, as we find out that he’s much, much older than he seems.

It’s this revelation, played out in an admittedly enjoyable sewer scene, that pushes Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb the furthers away from the Hammer wheelhouse. It’s the sort of twist that belongs in a lesser film and just serves as a final reminder that this is only a Hammer film by the skin of its teeth.

Rating: 2/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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