Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 114: The Mummy (1959)

This was another Hammer production by the usual crew: Terence Fischer directing, Jimmy Sangster writing, Peter Cushing as the hero and Christopher Lee as the monster. This is almost a 28 Days Later version of a Mummy in that he moves quickly and is strong as hell but is still wrapped in bandages. Gone are the foot-dragging days of old, in this production, the mummy came with his A game.

The plot is pretty much the same as other mummy movies. Some white archaeologists disturb an ancient tomb and are cursed for it. There are extensive flashbacks to the period when everyone in the tomb was still alive and the set design on these scenes is on point. Cushing plays the son of an archaeologist who disturbs Princess Ananka and her guardian mummy. After the tomb is thoroughly looted (and Cushing's dad is left a gibbering idiot after a tame run-in with the mummy), the human guardian of the temple promises to re-unearth it and release the mummy on the trespassers. The action then moves to the UK where the human guardian has moved into the same neighborhood as Cushing and is dispatching the mummy nightly to kill a different member of the dig.

Despite Cushing looking too old for his part, he plays the hero pretty well. His wife (being a dead-ringer for Ananka) and some local cops get involved, with the mummy proving himself vulnerable to a pretty face. This moves much faster than Hammer's 1958 Revenge of Frankenstein and even spawned some sequels itself. Besides the magical powers of the mummy in the Brendan Fraser movie, this one is the most dangerous I have seen. Once again, Lee does some great emoting with his face covered in make-up.

Well worth a watch if you dig mummy movies. Just remember, even a faster paced 50s movie is still kind of slow by today's standards.


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