Michael Carreras, 1964
Starring: Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland
Archaeologists Eugene Dubois, John Bray, and Sir Giles Dalrymple uncover a mummy in Egypt. With the help of Annette, Dubois’ daughter and Bray’s fiancee, they take the whole find — including a number of artifacts — back to London to display and for further study. But during the grand unveiling, the mummy turns out to be missing, has somehow revived from death, and begins killing off the archaeologists and other exhibition members one by one. And a mysterious man begins to woo Annette away from John, but may have sinister motives…
Produced, written, and directed by Michael Carreras — usually just a producer for Hammer — this second film in their four-film Mummy series is completely unrelated to The Mummy and, honestly, is one of my least favorite out of all the studio’s output. I wish I had nicer things to say about it, but, really, it’s dreadful. For starters there is just no making up for the absence of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing who teamed up for The Mummy, and between Terence Morgan (Hamlet) and Ronald Howard (Sherlock Holmes, son of Leslie Howard), it’s hard to imagine someone being a less likely romantic lead than either of them.
And don’t get me started on Jeanne Roland (You Only Live Twice), who is adorable and nice to look at, but who is also one of Hammer’s flattest actresses. She has a cloying French accent apparently dubbed over her own voice for some reason that is the equivalent of nails on a chalk board every time she delivers some of her inane dialogue. Her character, Annette, effectively dumps her fiancee because her wealthy, mysterious beau — Adam Beauchamp — tells her that while he sympathizes with her brains and drive for a career in archaeology, her real place is in the home (!!!). She agrees and says that this is something John, her work obsessed fiancé, has never been able to understand. ¡Ay, caramba!
The film is essentially another retread of the standard Mummy formula — white, upper class archaeologists are told not to unearth a tomb, so they do it anyway and disaster strikes, while the murderous mummy is inexplicably obsessed with one of their wives/daughters/girlfriends — but this one has a particularly insane twist that must be seen to be believed. SPOILERS: It turns out the Adam Beauchamp, the wealthy art collector who woos Annette and has an inexplicable knowledge of Egyptian history, is actually the brother of the mummy. I’ll give you a second to wrap your head around that one. His father, the Pharaoh, cursed him with eternal life and for some insane reason, only his brother can kill him.
This headache inducing twist is actually pretty hilarious, once you manage to absorb where the plot is trying to go — and all in the last five to ten minutes of the film. Like most Hammer productions, it looks fantastic and the colors and set design are the most memorable aspects of The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb. The mummy is far less compelling that Lee’s portrayal of the creature in the previous film, but this has a bit more gore, including two sequences that bookend the film where hands are chopped off.
The dialogue is truly terrible — including a hilarious moment where someone says something to the effect of, “The legend has passed down through the centuries, therefore it must be true.” The standard flashback sequences that occur in literally every film about an undead mummy also show up here, but this is one of the worst I’ve ever seen and manages to be visually unimpressive while also running roughshod over Egyptian mythology. I can’t recommend The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, but if you’re compelled to see the bizarre twist at the end — or you’re just a Hammer completist — pick it up on DVD here.