“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Review of “The Mummy” (1959)

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Boris Karloff’s tremendous screen presence notwithstanding, I actually enjoyed this 1959 remake of The Mummy even better than the original. The colors pop with vibrancy. The acting is sincere. The script is clever. The one from the 1930’s deserves its special place among the greats, but this version directed by Terence Fisher manages to trump it in almost every way. There are slight variations, but overall, the story is similar. A team of archaeologists uncover the famed mummy of an Egyptian princess, and through this disturbance, awaken another mummy, Kharis (Christopher Lee), who was doomed to watch over her for eternity. Thousands of years ago he was sentenced to be buried alive for attempting to bring the dead princess back to life. It is revealed that there is a modern-day cult which still worships the old gods, and has turned Kharis on the loose to kill the three main archaeologists who uncovered the tomb.

Peter Cushing is essentially a Howard Carter version of Van Helsing. He is the one who has all the answers, and soon realizes his very own wife bears resemblance to the princess the mummy must protect. He uses this to save his life, and eventually help the mummy return to the afterlife. The special effects showing the numerous instances of Cushing and others trying to shoot the creature are excellent. There is a violence present in this film which gives an added realism we did not normally see from Hammer at this point in time. The Technicolor filming does wonders to bring the beautiful Egyptian tombs and costumes during the few flashback sequences to life. For that reason, it becomes more enjoyable.  Unlike the previous film reviewed, The Curse of Frankenstein, Lee does a terrific job as the monster. Camera close-ups of his eyes allow them to sear into your soul, much like Karloff’s in the original. Also starring Yvonne Furneaux and Eddie Byrne.

8 out of 10 stars.

More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here

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