Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wrapped Up Like A Mummy

With six days left, and six movies to go, I figured I had better get these things watched and reviewed so I can finish this challenge right on the last possible day for it. I was hoping to get a review in for the other blog I write for. Maybe I will try to get two reviews in one day so I can do that. With computer issues and trying to get this challenge done on time, I haven't been writing anything over there for nearly a month now. When I agreed to write there, I said I would at least try to get one review a week done. While I didn't set that in stone, I do feel bad for not doing just that, and especially for so long a period now. For today though I got back to the Hammer films. Since I didn't want to focus on one series, I did want to at least watch the first movie of each series. For today I went with The Mummy (1959).

The year in 1895 and there is an archaeological dig taking place in Egypt. Stephen (Felix Aylmer) and Joseph (Raymond Huntley) have been trying to find Princess Ananka's tomb. Along with Stephen's son, John (Peter Cushing) who injured his leg, they manage to find it at last. Before Stephen and Joseph enter the tomb though, a man (George Pastell) warns them in a not so subtle way that all will die who enter the tomb. Once inside and knowing for sure this is the tomb they were looking for, Joseph heads back out to inform John of their good news. While talking to John, Stephen lets out a frightened yell. When he rushes back in, Joseph finds Stephen in the mist of a mental break down. A couple of years later, everyone in back home except for Stephen, who is in something of a rest home. Stephen calls for John one day, and tells him about the mummy that came out of a wall in the tomb. He fears that the mummy is coming to kill them all. John writes it off as his father still being mentally ill. When his father is killed, and he learns that the guy that warned them off a few years ago is in town, maybe his father wasn't so crazy after all.

Even though The Mummy was made after Dracula and The Curse Of Frankenstein (my next Hammer review), The Mummy was actually the first movie that got the green light from Universal Studios to remake. As of this writing, I have yet to watch Universals version of this movie, so I can't compare the two films at all. I wasn't real sure how well I was going to like this movie because of the way it started. I know not all of Egypt is only sand, but that is what people think of when they picture that country. So it is always odd to see trees and other things all around. When they entered the tomb there was way too much light in there. I often complain about movies being too dark, but now there was too much light. They had torches, but I noticed the light wasn't shifting as the torches moved. It did get better from there though. There are two flashbacks. One explains the back story of the Princess Ananka (who looks a lot like John's wife) and Kharis some 4,000 years ago. The other is a quick flashback to the start of the film, where we actually see the mummy this time. The first flashback was a little on the lame side. There was a lot of chanting, with everyone holding their hands up like they are about the arrested. Another thing I didn't care for, and I know they use it most versions, is the reincarnated love interest. Do we really need that? It is a monster movie after all.

The Mummy was slight on blood, but they did have some other cool effects going here. The mummy itself was the main effect here. Christopher Lee gets the part for this movie, and does a great job with it even if he doesn't talk much yet again. The makeup department did a wonderful job with the mummy makeup, making sure that Lee's face was still showing through the bandages. This was a nice makeup effect because it make the mummy seem more human again. Another nice effect is when the mummy is shot. They really do make it look like the bullet went completely through him. Peter Cushing gets the lead role again for the good guy. I enjoyed his acting this time because after being choked, he would just simply fall limply to the floor. After recovering, he would still touch his neck at times like it was still hurting. Don't always see that from actors. Yvonne Furneaux gets the dual part of Princess and Isobel. Eddie Byrne plays the part of Inspector Mulrooney, who is actually a pretty smart guy. Wait a minute, a smart cop in a horror movie? When did this happen?

One of the things I really liked about The Mummy was Christopher Lee's take on the character. I liked how the mummy would stumble along at times. As it turns out, this wasn't all acting on Lee's part. It sounds like Lee went through hell for this movie. He dislocated his shoulder, threw his back out, injured his knees and shins in the swamp scenes, and the squibs used for the gun shots left burn marks on him. That is truly taking one for the love of the art. I think that Hammer ended up making a good film here over all. It is a fun movie that went by faster than I thought it would. It was nice to see an actual horror movie about the mummy. The 1999 remake was nothing more than an action movie with horror being more of an after thought. It was fine if you like those kinds of movies, and I admit I had fun with it. But it was a far cry from the early films it takes from.
4 out of 5 Wondering who I was in a past life


jervaise brooke hamster said...

My favorite of "Hammers" "Mummy" films is "The Mummys Shroud" (1967) its one of my all time favorite cult movies. By the way, today (December 27th) should`ve been another famous "Heathers" 34th birthday, i`ll certainly be watching "Poltergeist 3" tonight to commemorate (i trust you will be as well). Actually Heather it would be great to hear your opinion on that film and the entire "Heather O`Rourke legend", (as it were).

Jed Cooper said...

Howdy Miss Heather, and I am really glad to see that you enjoyed this movie so well. It happens to be one of my all time favorite Mummy movies too maam. The first time I can remember seeing this one was at my grandmother's, on a Saturday night, on SHOCK THEATER. I think they did a Mummy double feature, starting off with the Boris Karloff version, and this one. I was still in single digits at the time, and remember wanting to check under my bed several times before finally going to sleep (grinning and lmao).

To me when I think of Cushing and Lee in the same movie, I simply expect it to be a HAMMER movie. They in part define that series of horror movies for me. I remembered reading somewhere that Lee was injured during this movie. But I had no idea that he got as banged up as Professor Heather explained. So once again thank you maam for adding those comments. I have to agree, Lee was in many ways, an actor's actor. I have to wonder just how many actors today would continue to file with that many injuries. I know a few have been injured and continued filming, but I think it is a very short list. Most actors want to be filmed around, while they recover these days.

I look forward one day to you being able to compare this movie with the Universal version. So one of these days sweet lady (grinning). Of course, greedy ole me is already looking forward to your next incredible review too you amazing sick puppette you (smiling, clapping).

Most of you score lines make me smile or laugh. A few make me think hard for an answer. You have posed an interesting question, that only you can really answer sweet lady. But I can easily see you as an Egyptian princess too Miss Heather. Do you feel a strange closeness to guys wrapped head to toe in gauze??? Inquiring minds want to know (smiling, tips my hat).

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Heather, Darlin`, dont forget to imagine that New Years Eve and New Years Day are in fact Christmas Day and Boxing Day all over again, you will then have experienced the magic of 2 Christmas`es in 10 days instead of just 1, have another great time darlin`, happy New Year (but Christmas is so much better, everybody knows that).

B-Sol said...

I love Hammer's Mummy. It's worth noting that it isn't so much a remake of the original 1932 Universal of The Mummy, as it is the first film in Universal's 1940s Mummy series, The Mummy's Hand.
Also, Heather, wanted to let you know that I've given your fine blog an award for being one of the best blogs I've recently discovered. Go here to read more:

Jay Clarke said...

Hey Heather,

I nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger, check it out!