Kharis, The Mummy: Christopher Lee
John Banning: Peter Cushing
Stephen Banning: Felix Aylmar
Uncle Joseph Whemple: Raymond Huntley
Mehemet Bey: George Pastell
Ananka / Isobel: Yvonne Furneaux
Inspector Mulrooney: Eddie Byrne
Produced: Michael Carreras
Associate Producer: Anthony Nelson-Keys
Directed: Terence Fisher
Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster
Make-up: Roy Ashton.
In 1895, brothers-in-law Stephen Banning and Joseph Whemple search
for the tomb of Princess Ananka (why is one Egyptian sledgehammering
a boulder?). Stephen's son John Banning has broken his leg
this leg!") and must decide whether to stay and risk a bad
heal or leave the camp. A befezzed Egyptian warns, "He who
robs the graves of Egypt dies." But the older men enter
the mountain and discover Ananka's tomb. When Uncle Joe leaves
to inform John, Stephen finds the Scroll of Life. The next we
know, he screams and is reduced to babbling insanity. Joe and
John stay on for six months of excavating. When they blow up
the hole they made in the mountain, the Egyptian, Mehemet Bey,
utters a curse of vengeance for the desecration and vows to the
god Karnak that he'll dig up what he needs.
In 1898, John and wife Isobel visit Dad in
the "Nursing Home for the Mentally Disordered." Dad
talks of another mummy, not Ananka, coming through the wall.
"You're a fool, John. Thank you for coming." In a
spasm of Renfieldism, Dad has himself locked into a more secure
room, but when two drunken relics carters get spooked and allow
a box to fall into a local swamp, the mummy is revived by Mehemet
using the Scroll of Life, and it emerges from the bubbling bog,
breaks through the grate at the hospital, and strangles Banning.
An inquest blames a homicidal maniac.
John and Joe search old records and John summarizes
the "Ananka folio": about 2000 bc, Ananka, High Priestess
of Karnak, set out on a journey, contracted an illness, and died.
Kharis, the High Priest, conducted weeks of ceremony, including
the stashing of the tomb and the butchering of Nubian women and
slaves. When discovered trying to revive Ananka using the Scroll
of Life, his tongue was cut out, he was wrapped in bandages, and
sealed alive as a guard of the tomb. Uncle Joe oxymoronically
defines "legend" as "historical myth."
A drunk witnesses the mummy stalking. Kharis
bursts through the Banning doors and, despite gunshots from John,
chokes Uncle Joe to death. (Why not kill two on one trip?) Dawn
breaks on marblehead, and we see the earlier tomb-entering footage,
now with John's guess at what happened: old man Banning read from
the Scroll of Life (which runs close to love poetry at times,
involving "tenderness" of "this heart" and
so on). The mummy appears from its secret cabinet and reduces
Banning to inanity. Inspector Mulrooney is skeptical and plans
to "dig around until I unearth more facts."
Isobel is the spitting image of Ananka, supposedly.
So when the mummy attacks John and neither gunshots nor a spearing
the torso work, as John is being choked, the appearance of Isobel
dissuades Kharis and he leaves. John visits the new neighbor,
an Egyptian (Mehemet), who is testy about archaeological
"unearthing sacred secrets." John pointedly insults
Karnak and his followers, and leaves.
The next attack comes soon. Mehemet conks
the drunk and a cop, and the mummy conks the Inspector. Kharis
starts choking John again, but when Isobel lets down her hair
and Mehemet goes to kill her, the mummy kills Mehemet and carries
off Isobel to the swamp. John instructs Isobel, who says, "Kharis,
put me down." (Although locked up for 4000 years, he knows
English.) When he does, the police and locals open fire. Riddled
with bullets, Kharis sinks with the Scroll.
Color seems all wrong, and the film seems devoid of any cultish
or ancient weirdness which might help create the needed eeriness.
Most impressive here is probably the combination of all the disjointed
motifs from the Universal films (minus "cycles of the full
moon" and tana leaves). The invasion of old Banning's cell
is effectively terrifying, but this is primarily a psycho-spacial
effect again, rather than the result of a successful monster.