Carlos Aured, 1973
Starring: Paul Naschy, Jack Taylor, Maria Silva, Helga Line
In ancient Egypt, the bloodthirsty Pharaoh Amenhotep is killed by the High Priest of Amen-Ra, because he and his consort Armana have been torturing and sacrificing young women. His crimes also include drinking the blood of virgins and eating the flesh of his citizens. Amenhotep is cursed to never enter the afterlife and doomed to become a mummy. Many years in the future, archaeologists dig up his tomb and accompanying scrolls and take them back to the British Museum in London.
He is followed by Egyptian professor Assad Bey, who claims he is interested to learn more about Amenhotep’s legend. Really Bey and his female colleague Zenifer are descendants of Amenhotep and Armana, there to resurrect the mummy and his lady love. To do this, they must pick up where Amenhotep left off and sacrifice 42 virgins, then mix their blood with the sacred leaves that will reawaken Amenhotep. They must also find a young girl’s body to use for Armana’s reincarnation. An archaeologist from the museum and his girlfriend eventually clue in to Bey’s activities and set out to stop the mummy.
Mummy films aren’t the most popular sub-genre in horror and Karl Freund’s original The Mummy has been remade or adapted fewer times than most of the other entries in the Universal monster canon. Likely this is due to the fact that the monster is slow and shuffling, and the plot is little more than a reworking of Dracula. But Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy – who had made his career as the Wolfman and also starred as Dracula, a Hunchback, Gilles de Rais, and a voodoo master, among others – decided to give The Mummy his own turn and he appears here and writer and star.
As with some of his other films, namely Horror Rises from the Tomb and Vengeance of the Zombies, Naschy plays multiple roles with aplomb. Though Boris Karloff also did this in The Mummy, it’s refreshing that Naschy provides a totally new take on the character. Rather than a doddering, if malevolent occult dabbler with a broken heart, his ancient mummy is sadistic, bloody thirsty, and only bent on reincarnating his mistress because her penchant for cruelty matches his own.
Naschy and co-star Helga Line had already starred together as the murderous, Satan worshipping couple in Horror Rises from the Tomb. Here they somewhat repeat those performances, as the two plot are very similar, but The Mummy’s Revenge feels fresh enough thanks to the Egyptian themes. Naschy’s take on the mummy is also entirely his own. On one hand, Amenhotep looks more like a burn victim than a thousand-plus year old mummy. On the other hand, his mummy is extremely violent and athletic, chasing down young virgins and smashing skulls with ease. As with Hunchback of the Morgue, Naschy’s character spends the second half of the film going on a full-tilt rampage and killing anyone with an intact hymen he can get his hands on – and a few others for good measure.
There’s a lovely scene where the police chase him through Hyde Park. With its fog-shrouded shadows and Universal horror-like imagery, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the later scenes from Dr. Jekyll and the Wolfman. The numerous museum set pieces are also impressive and take advantage of such things as a room filled with suits of armor, dark corners, and massive pillars. This was his final film with director Carlos Aured and while I think Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is their best film together, this is more entertaining than it has any right to be. They make good use of the supposedly Victorian London set (a common feature on several Naschy films), beautiful women, and loads of atmosphere. The Egyptian costumes are pretty kitschy, but in an amusing way, and Helga Line looks wonderful in them.
Why is Jack Taylor (the archaeologist) wearing so much eyeliner? He is equally flat and surprised looking as he was in Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf, but the script here gives him more improbable action, such as beating the crap out of Naschy, and ridiculous dialogue. His costar, Maria Silva (Curse of the Devil), is lovely, but gives a performance that is equally wide-eyed and campy.
There is a PAL DVD of The Mummy’s Revenge, but nothing NTSC or region 1 as far as I’m aware. You can find the film online, though it really only comes recommended to Paul Naschy lovers or mummy completists. Though if you’ve always wanted to see a mummy go buck wild, now’s your chance.