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Thursday, 11 January 2007

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1965)

We're in Egypt in 1900 and Arabs in black outfits are busy cutting a hand off a bound prisoner belonging to the Dalrymple expedition that has located the tomb of the ancient Egyptian prince Ra-Antef. The victim is Professor Dubois, who leaves a lovely daughter as well as a couple of colleagues, Sir Giles Dalrymple and John Bray. Inevitably there's the usual curse but at the instigation of American showman Alexander King they're soon out of Egypt and sailing back to England to put the prince on tour.

This is a Hammer horror and it's far too long since I've seen a good Hammer horror. However this isn't a great one, not a patch on the first ancient Egyptian mummy curse movie they put out, 1959's The Mummy. That film had the good fortune of starring both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and being directed by Terence Fisher. It's pretty hard to screw up a combination like that and it's one of the best of the early Hammers. As far as I can tell the only continuing cast member though is Michael Ripper, and he's a long way down the credits on both films.

Here we have Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard (not Ron Howard), Fred Clark, Jack Gwillim and Dickie Owen as the mummy which is inevitably brought back to stumbing life to attack everyone else. The film also introduces Jeanne Roland and her pleasing cleavage as the young Annette Dubois in her debut film, before going on to such lofty heights as being James Bond's masseuse in You Only Live Twice. Everyone is perfectly decent but nobody really shines, with the possible exception of Clark who blusters joyously as the American showman, inventing Turkish Delight and rambling on about his friend Phineas Barnum. The rest of it is pretty predictable but there's nothing too bad about any of it, merely nothing that compares with the great material that Hammer tended to put out.

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