(Review originally written at 13 October 2006)

For some reason mummy movies never have been the most suspenseful or atmospheric creepy movies around. Not this version, not the 1932 and also most certainly not the 2001 version, for obvious reasons. It's the reason why mummy movies aren't that well known as other genre movies as for instance Frankenstein and vampire movies. This Hammer take on the mummy story is no exception. It's a well made movie but overall a too simple one, that lacks suspense, mystery or even a good main plot line.

Like all Hammer movies, this movie is perfectly entertaining and watchable but fails to make a big lasting impression. It's a movie that has its moments, which helps to make sure that this movie is an above average one and because of that an also perfectly watchable one.

Real problem I had with this movie was its simple story. Basically this is the main plot line of this movie is the mummy and Mehemet Bey taking revenge on those who opened the grave of the mummy's 4000 year old lover Princess Ananka. This is basically all that happens in this movie. The story is filled with some missed opportunities and bad executed moments. The character of Isobel Banning is completely underused in the movie and they could had used her character to make the movie more interesting and provide it with some more depth, with her relation between John Banning and the mummy. Her character now instead pops up every now and then, without even properly introducing her into the story. With a better story this movie would had definitely been a better one.

Still the movie still has plenty enough to offer. All of the scene's with the mummy are a delight. This is mainly thanks to the fact that he is being played by Christopher Lee. He has the perfect body type to play the character. It also is thanks to the convincing and great looking make-up effects. Another great sequences is the gentleman stand-off between John Banning (Peter Cushing) and Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), in which both try to lure each other out, without revealing their true identity and motivations in words. It reminded me of the sequences between Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan in the 1931 "Dracula" movie.

It's thanks to Peter Cushing's acting that this movie doesn't descent to a lower level of cinema. I admit that this is one of his best roles, in terms of his acting. Like I said before, Christoper Lee is also perfectly cast but the rest of the cast is rather disappointing, especially Eddie Byrne as Inspector Mulrooney.

The movie is rather good looking and does its very best to build up a suitable atmosphere. Yet due it's simplistic story the atmosphere never really works effective enough.

Perhaps best watchable for the Cushing/Lee fans only.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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