The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964 Britain)

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb is a good-looking film at least, thankfully not having the rushed and made-on-the-quick-and-cheap production values of the Universal Kharis Mummy films. The chilling Hammer atmosphere is present in how the film looks, with the sumptuous Gothic sets, lush photography that does a fine job evoking atmosphere, much tighter editing and rich bold colours. We have the usual well spoken actors, in this case Ronald Howard (the hero)  and Terence Morgan (the villain). The music score is hauntingly stirring, and while this flick is too often dull it really does bring it on home in the final twenty minutes.

The final twenty minutes make this film, with the story being at its most horrifying and suspenseful by some considerable distance. There are some gruesome but not overly-gratuitous shocks (i.e. the amputation scene) and a tense and exciting sewer chase. Regarding the acting, the supporting cast fare far better than the leads. George Pastell brings a lot of charisma to his role, Jack Gwillum is movingly sympathetic. Meanwhile, token American Fred Clark plays a very sleazy character with intensity and lively, often funny comic timing. The very much-forgotten Dickie Owen, while just lacking the imposing creepiness of Christopher Lee and the pathos of Boris Karloff (much better than Lon Chaney Jnr though, at least Owen’s heart seemed in it), is still a very formidable Mummy and is aided by some cool make-up. One just wishes he was on screen for longer and was introduced earlier.

On the other hand, the pacing really hurts The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb. It starts off well, but for at least three quarters of an hour (most of the film), the story is very tediously paced and painfully predictable, with the less eventful scenes dragging interminably. And even with a few surprise twists here and there, everything still just felt very over-familiar. There is very little tension, thrills or sense of dread or horror, further let down by a pointless and saccharinely written love triangle that takes up far too much of our time. It is definitely too talky and stilted, with the romantic parts being truly banal. The humour is sometimes amusing and well-played, at other points overdone, unneeded or not the best placed while the speeches, sideshows and history lessons don’t properly maintain interest.

It’s hard to think of another actress’s role that is so thankless and unsympathetic as the one assigned here to Jeanne Roland. This exotic lovely (born in Burma no less) with smouldering eyes truly comes across as an uncaring wanton; her father dies, and she’s next seen, without a care in the world, carousing on a ship with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is knocked out on the ship, and, minutes later, she’s drinking and flirting with a stranger instead of being at her friend’s bedside. The boyfriend is then knocked unconscious again, and, again, she’s drinking and canoodling callously with this stranger as though oblivious to all except her voracious libido. She comes across as a lascivious nymph, and I was left hoping the Mummy would do her in to save the boyfriend the trouble!  Overall though, this movie has a cerebral subtext to hold a thinking audiences interest and I always enjoy returning to it. Its cosy. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more with your last line, I too think that horrors like this are extremely cosy and enjoyable to watch on those cold winter nights. Excellent review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for commenting! These sort of old supernatural pictures are like a warm blanket and cushion to lie on. 🙂

    Like

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