31 Days of Hammer – The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

Jules picks up where he left off in October by running through some of the choice horror offerings from the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.

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

Released: 1967
Starring: Andre Morell, John Phillips, David Buck, Michael Ripper, Roger Delgado
Director: John Gillings

It can’t have been easy making another Mummy film. Of all the big monster icons, the historical Egyptian character is arguably the most generic, the one most likely to just replay a familiar story.

Essentially a proto-slasher, Mummy films invariably set the scene in ancient Egypt, fast forward to the tomb being opened by the plucky Brits then spend the rest of the runtime watching them being picked off one by one.

Well, this third Hammer outing to the desert is no different. It is however, a measurable improvement on the previous instalment, 1964’s Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb and is proof that even a hackneyed concept can still be injected with some vim and vigour by a talented writer and director.

A British expedition in Egypt uncovers the lost tomb of the boy Pharaoh Kah-To-Bey. Ignoring the grave warning issued to them by Hasmid (a pre-Master Roger Delgado), a borderline unhinged local Bedouin, they break ground and remove not just the boy king’s body, but the holy shroud covering him, as well as the mummified corpse of his protector slave, Prem.

It’s not long before Hasmid has reanimated Prem using the shroud, sending him on a mission to avenge the blasphemy committed in his master’s tomb, by brutally murdering each and every member of the expedition.

Okay, so we’ve seen this many times before, but when it’s done well, the formula becomes part of the charm and that’s very much the case here.

Director John Gillings (fresh off his successes down Cornwall way with Plague Of The Zombies and The Reptile) and screenwriter Anthony Hinds smartly populate their story with a string ensemble cast, meaning that when Prem starts cutting a bloody swathe through them, they feel like real people being killed and not mere fodder.

The top-billed Andre Morell’s expedition leader Sir Basil Walden is despatched surprisingly early, robbing us of his unarguable talents and presence alas, but between John Phillips’ rich backer Stanley Preston (as close as we have to a real villain here), his son Paul (David Buck) and the striking Maggie Kimberly as Claire, there’s more than enough good work being done to hold the interest.

Brilliantly, Michael Ripper once again gets loads to do, playing Longbarrow, a meek and jittery assistant to the elder Preston who meets probably the film’s finest end, being wrapped in a sheet and thrown through a high window to graphically bounce off the road outside. Glorious.

It’s the deaths that really make The Mummy’s Shroud so affecting. As well as poor Longbarrow’s defenestration, people have their skull crushed, hydrochloric acid smashed over them, their head smashed into a wall and more. It’s wilfully nasty, but wonderfully entertaining stuff and makes a great change from the usual Mummy choke or karate chop.

The other real highlight is undoubtedly Hasim and his hideous mother Haiti (Catherine Lacey), a drooling, toothless fortune-teller with a moustache. Delgado is clearly having a ball with such a fanatical character, bolstering every line with wide-eyed intensity, while Lacey is perhaps the film’s most disturbing element.

The Mummy’s Shroud was the last film the studio would make at the legendary Bray Studios, so it is appropriate that they went out on a relative high note.

Hammer would return one more time to the Mummy well, but with a whole different concept, leaving this to be the last time we would have to beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet…

Rating: 3.5/5.

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


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