Monday, October 3, 2016

The Mummy (1959)

Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne, Felix Aylmer
Directed by Terence Fisher
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Archaeologists open the long lost tomb of an ancient princess but unwittingly restore to life a mummy who is directed to murder them to avenge their desecration.

One of the best Hammer horror films, in my opinion, the film boasts the winning tandem of Cushing and Lee and a wonderfully haunting score by Franz Reizenstein, so evocative of both the tragic tale of the mummy and the color and pageantry of ancient Egypt.  On a par with Boris Karloff in the original Mummy film, Lee emotes effectively with his eyes and stiff but swift and lethal movements.  The slower moving mummies of past films would not be able to keep up with him!  Jimmy Sangster's screenplay unites elements from several of the previous Universal mummy movies, and hits upon a winning combination of terror and pathos in Lee's Kharis, pining for Furneaux who resembles his lost love.  Cushing delivers more of the selfless heroism he displayed in Horror Of Dracula along with a cleverly phrased verbal confrontation with George Pastell's villainous high priest, in which he eggs on his adversary without ever raising his voice.  It's a pity none of Hammer's Mummy sequels would ever be as good.

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