Arts / Hammer Film Productions Limited. 90 minutes.
Sir Basil Walden: Andre Morel
Stanley Preston: John Phillips
Paul Preston: David Buck
Barbara Preston: Elizabeth Sellars
Hasmid Ali: Roger Delgado
Haiti: Catherine Lacey
Claire: Maggie Kimberley
Longbarrow: Michael Ripper
Harry Newton: Tim Barrett
Inspector: Richard Warner
The Mummy: Eddie Powell
Produced: Anthony Nelson Keys
Directed: John Gilling
Story: John Elder
Screenplay: John Gilling
Music: Don Banks.
2000 B.C., the Pharaoh Men-Ta's wife dies after giving birth to
Kah-To-Bey. The Pharaoh is too future-oriented, and when his jealous
brother Amen-Ta attacks, he is overthrown and killed. A loyal
slave, Prem, takes the boy to the desert with a retinue of other
slaves, the "sole survivors of the holocaust." Trés
Mosesesque, "Prem would guide them out of the desert
Prem may be thinking of a future bloodbath as slaves die in the
sun, but when Kah-To-Bey gives the royal seal to Prem and dies,
Prem covers him with a sacred shroud and, after carving the event
in stone, will soon die too.
In 1920, self-aggrandizing Stanley Preston
finances a dig. Archaeologist Sir Basil Walden and his team are
beset by troubles and lost. Claire warned about starting on Friday
the 13th; she gets "feelings" and suspects "When
the desert is behind us then begins the real danger." Harry
Newton and Preston's son Paul are also along.
In Cairo, Preston shows off the mummy Prem
with the Pharaoh's seal, announcing to the press that Kah-To-Bey's
tomb should be close by. He will accompany a search expedition
for the missing Walden party.
The Walden group discovers the tomb of Kah-To-Bey,
but Basil is bitten by a snake just before Preston's search party
arrives. A seeming lunatic Hasmid Ali predicts doom, but the tomb
is opened and entered. When the mummy is uncovered, Claire refuses
to read the shroud, claiming that it refers to "the spirit
of the tomb and the sacred words of life and death."
The boy-king's remains are taken to Mazara
and placed near the mummy of Prem, the former protector. Basil
is in ill health and has been placed in a lunatic asylum. Paul
Preston blames his father. Basil escapes and is taken in by Haiti,
a fortune-teller, who sees a murderous dead spirit in her crystal
ball and tells Basil he will be dead soon. Hasmid is her son;
he reads aloud the hieroglyphics on the shroud of Kah-To-Bey and,
with some crumbling, Prem comes to life and crushes Basil's head.
A museum janitor sweeps dust under the rug
(before dusting the room), and undergoes some would-be comic business
with the remains on the table until discovering Basil's body.
The shroud has been stolen, and Preston wants to leave the country:
"I must insist on my rights as a British citizen." His
wife torments Preston, noting that she feels safe since she
didn't enter the tomb.
Claire wants to see Harry's photos of the shroud,
but fears animating a destructive "thing." The gypsy
sees this plan in her crystal ball, so the dentally-challenged
Hasmid animates the mummy again. Harry throws acid and stabs the
mummy, but the mummy crushes a jar of acid over Harry and a fire
does the rest.
A freaked Preston tries to have his lackey,
Longbarrow, book passage back to England. Longbarrow breaks his
own glasses and therefore sees only a blurry mummy attack. He
is wrapped in curtains and thrown out the window. The gypsy spies
on Preston and his dysfunctional marriage. When Preston tries
to flee the country, Hasmid cons him into waiting in an alley
for transportation and resuscitates the mummy again. Preston turns
when a cat screeches, and the mummy appears out of the woodwork,
smashing Preston's head against the wall.
The inspector is now freaked: "There are
now four dead people who are beginning to gnaw at my conscience."
He invites Paul and Claire to go, but Claire has taken off to
see the gypsy, who laughs maniacally about impending death. Paul
sees fresh blood on the mummy's fingers. Claire obeys the gypsy's
advice and goes to pray for forgiveness, but Hasmid curses her
while animating the mummy: "Kill her!" Paul is nearly
strangled. An ax in the shoulder and the inspector's bullets do
no good. Paul implores Claire to speak the sacred words of death.
Hasmid laughs that her words can do nothing without the shroud,
but he is shot. Claire takes the shroud and says words of death.
The attacking mummy collapses and slowly crumbles to dust. Claire
silently places the shroud on Kah-To-Bey's remains.
The dusty crumblings are effective, especially at the end, despite
Hammer's characteristically well-lit technicolor sets. Unfortunately,
we see Prem at the beginning of the film as a pudgy and bald Englishman,
so the mummy's appearances necessarily retain those traces of
our earlier vision.
We don't care much about the soon dead
spoiled brat (as it were), so there's no touching aspect to the
4000-year devotion here. But there's an economy to the plot in
this one for a change, so although this is another unsatisfying
mummy film, it's a bit better than most.