As the production line of Hammer Films trundled on provide its audiences with their fourth and final Mummy pic, a rash of behind the scenes tragedies hinted that maybe the production company that revitalized British horror should maybe be taking their relentless release schedule down a notch.
While not reaching the legitimately creepy happenings that famously plagued movies such as The Exorcist, The Omen and the Poltergeist franchise, Peter Cushing still had to quit the production after one day after his beloved wife was diagnosed with emphysema and was speedily replaced with Quatermass And The Pit’s Andrew Kier. However, matters got even worse when, five weeks into a six week shoot, director Seth Holt succumbed to a fatal heart attack on set, reportedly collapsing into cast member Aubrey Morris’ arms who was ironically playing a doctor. Mummy’s are known to be notoriously resilient creatures, but could this adventure possibly still rise up in the face of all these tragic events?
MargaretFuchs writhes in the grip of a particularly virulent nightmare as she has visions of an evil Egyptian Queen who looks eerily like her and gets drugged by a gang of priests who put her in a state of suspended animation, severs her hand (which goes crawling off on it’s own) and buries her with all her various evil bric-a-brac so to protect the world from her supernatural abilities. She wakes from this dream and is consoled by her father who gifts her a gigantic (and frankly vile looking) ring four days before her birthday, but her sense of unease isn’t helped by her witnessing a strange man lurking around her neighbourhood.
As weird occurrences continue to manifest like respawning villains in overly hard video game, Margret and her suave fella soon discover that there’s a localised conspiracy afoot that goes back to the day of her birth. You see, while Margret’s mother was busy trying to push her out of her uterus, dear old daddy and his fellow explorers were breaking into the Egyptian tomb of Princess Tera – the lookalike Margret is seeing in her nightmares – and mentioned her name the exact moment our heroine was born as her mother died during childbirth. While this certainly added to Margert and Tara’s connection, the fact that the exhibition subsequently raided the tomb like a fucking fire sale certainly also may have been a catalyst and matter are made even more awkward when it’s discovered that her father had Tera’s body shipped over to england and has it secretly stashed in his basement for all these years.
Enter the strange man seen lurking earlier, who reveals himself as one of her father’s old compatriots and who wants Marget to use her link to Tera to reclaim the relics stolen by his ex-buddies. However, death follows Margret in her wake and with every death, Tera’s personality become more and more dominant.
After all those issues I mentioned earlier, it’s honestly a miracle that Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb is as coherent and cohesive as it is, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s free of story telling issues or a noticably odd pace – still, before we get into any of that, kudos do have to be given by trying to pump the concept with fresh blood whether its obtained from the tomb or not. The first instance, while hardly being groundbreaking, is that all the ancient Egyptian hullabaloo is mainly focused on both a Mummy and a lead character who are both women (and played by the same actress) thanks to matters being drawn from Bram Stoker’s novel, The Jewel Of The Seven Stars. This means that the film carries some interesting themes about the effects on female identity when the meddling of a patriarch becomes too damaging – also, this being Hammer, it also contains endless shots of actress Valerie Leon’s formidable cleavage, so take any feminist themes possibly with a grain of salt.
But then, Hammer always liked to change up their monsters, regularly trading out a more traditional Frankenstein’s monster in favour of progressively more varied experiments or even swapping out Christopher Lee’s Dracula at least once. Mummy purists may be upset that there’s not yet another shambling hulk wrapping in grimy gauze throttling everyone within reach, but surely the sight of a nubile, gold bra wearing, evil queen gies a little way towards filling the broad shouldered hole.
While exchanging the usual kind of curse for something more akin to a possession flick gives Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb a fresh look, the execution is somewhat flubbed as anything that could suggest that possession by Tera could be read as a metaphor for the transition into womanhood is kind of nullified by the fact that the impressively proportioned Leon easily looks at least 28.
Elsewhere, the mixing of the possession storyline with a macguffin heavy plot that sees the people holding Tera’s various relics dying from gruesome throat wounds while our heroine/villain recovers her belongs that really tied her tomb together often feels quite scrappy and considering the history of the production, it’s probably not a suprise. However, it’s something of a chore to actually give a shit about any of the players involved, even though the movie features a few, juicy character actors lurking about. Leon does a decent job while being predictably easy on the eyes but she’s given amble support (steady now) by he co-stars. Andrew Keir brings the same, impatient bluster he brought to Quatermass while Aubrey Morris’ bizarrely sneering doctor is always good value for money but I have to admit, I kept getting distracted by Mark Edward’s ineffectual boyfriend character who, with his absurdly bulking roll neck and his tan leather jacket, looks exactly like what a youngn dashing Ian McKellen would have looked like if he’d been cast as either Starskey or Hutch.
There’s been better Mummy movies and there’s been worse, but Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb manages to be competent level Hammer that provides the usual combination of glow in the dark blood, hammy british actors and plunging neck lines that keeps things watchable, if rather forgettable. But considering the baggage the movie came with, “competent” is praise enough.
Yippie Ki Yay Mummy fucker.