23 October 2014

The Mummy (1959)
87 min.
Directed by Terence Fisher.
With Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne, Felix Aylmer, Raymond Huntley, George Pastell, Michael Ripper.
Torn from the tomb to terrify the world!

Hammer's superb remake of the original 1932 Karl Freund/Carl Laemmle Universal classic stands firmly on its own two bandaged feet.

Masterfully directed by Terence Fisher in beautiful & vibrant color, the tightly woven story remains relatively untouched here.

A team of archaeologists led by John Banning (Cushing), his father Stephen (Aylmer) and uncle Joseph (Huntley) search for the hidden tomb of the mysterious Princess Ananka.

They find her digs - and ignoring the dire warnings from a local man named Mehemet (Pastell) - they open her final resting place.

Shouldn't have done that. Seems in the process Stephen accidentally revived the mummy Kharis (Lee), Ananka's personal priest, and now the undead monster is seeking revenge on all those who desecrated her tomb.

As if that weren't enough, Mehemet turns out to be a fervent follower of the ancient Ananka, and he's orchestrating the whole plan of revenge against the Bannings and their cursed team!

Wonderful from start to finish, Peter Cushing is excellent as the younger Banning, while Lee's towering presence almost rivals Karloff's quintessential performance....*almost*.

There are some stellar highlights here, including the very cool scene where Kharis rises out of the swamp, as well as the scene in the nursing home where the mummy dispatches John's father Stephen.

In addition to Fisher's adept direction, there's also gorgeous photography from regular Hammer cinematographer Jack Asher, and terrific makeup FX courtesy of Roy Ashton.

A seminal showcase for Hammer, this was also an excellent third entry in the studio's late '50s trinity-powerpunch started first by The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and then Horror of Dracula (1958).

A must see.

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