Recently I have been on a bit of a Hammer Film binge. The Horror Channel has been doing something of a Hammer marathon through October which meant I have had chance to catch up with some great cinematic horror masterpieces. And it also meant that I have had a chance to see a few of the films I have managed to miss over the years.
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb been one of them.
Synopsis from Hammerfilms.com
Two Egyptologists, Professor Fuchs (Keir) and Corbeck (Villiers), are instrumental in unleashing unmitigated horror by bringing back to England the mummified body of Tara, the Egyptian Queen of Darkness. Fuchs’s daughter, Margaret (Leon), becomes involved in a series of macabre and terrifying incidents, powerless against the forces of darkness, directed by Corbeck, that are taking possession of her body and soul to fulfil the ancient prophesy that Queen Tara will be resurrected to continue her reign of unspeakable evil.
Before we start can I just say Valerie Leon in this film… Yowzers…
I mean I have seen her taking bit parts in other films, two of which have been Bond films, but this is the first time that I have seen her in a staring role. And let me tell you that they don’t mess around and take every opportunity to show of her “assets”. But I will come back to this later on.
While trying not to give too much away I find Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb to be an interesting film in terms of Hammer productions. Firstly the film is not what I would call gory or extreme in any sense. Comparing the film to other Hammer productions, and other horror films of the time, it is almost pedestrian in its approach. There is no mass disembowelling, no decapitation, no blood spewing from every orifice and no orgies of sexual content. In fact the closest it comes to any kind of explicit content is a somewhat sexually suggestive scene, which might have considered risqué, where the character of Margaret, played by Leon, is eating a banana in a provocative way and the odd throat been ripped out. But this doesn’t even result in the spurting of blood you would normally expect from this sort of mummy flick.
This brings me onto the second thing that sets this apart from other horror movies in that it’s not your typical mummy flick. There is a distinct lack of a shambling, bandage draped and grotesque monster which is stalking tomb robbers or the victims of a curse. Instead the mummy is a rather well preserved, and scantily clad, voluptuous Egyptian queen, once again played by Leon. Who stays in a state of not moving or shambling around death until the last bits of the film. Any murders that happen are done either off screen or in a killer POV style. Leaving the film with more of a psychological murder mystery genre feel.
The cinematography of the film is great. Even though the original director, Seth Holt, died during production the replacement director, Michael Carreras, managed to keep the visual style of the film consistent. The camera work is punchy, scenes of impending doom and terror use shadows and camera angles to great effect. The colour is not subdued or dulled but vibrant and pops, thus removing the gritty and grungy feel seen in other Hammer films.
My main fault with this film is in the casting of Valerie Leon as the lead. I didn’t feel she suited the role and actually felt like it was more a case of they were looking for some hot totty. Not that her acting is terrible but there were times where the most she emoted was by widening her eyes and giving a slightly maniacal look on her face. As mentioned earlier they didn’t miss an opportunity to show off her assets though. A fair few scenes have her in either revealing night ware or in a bikini style costume as the evil Egyptian queen. Not that I am really complaining, but it does get a little distracting when you’re trying to keep up with the plot.
The other fault I have with this film is that the story gets rather confusing through the third quarter of the film. There were a few places where I did have a hard time keeping up with the plot. Thankfully though it seems to straighten it’s self out towards the end and you are left with a rather interesting, and ironic, twist ending.
But I won’t spoil it.
Yes this film is not the greatest out of the Hammer films. But it is by no means the worst film. It’s enjoyable to watch and has a rather intriguing story. The faults of the film can be overcome as you watch and try to unravel the mystery that is unfolding in front of you.