The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

I gather this one has a reputation for being one of Hammer’s dogs, and to be honest for the first half or so of the film it’s hard to entirely disagree with that… which is why it’s a bit baffling when after that point the film suddenly becomes at least all right if hardly earth-shattering. No doubt some of the blame must be laid at the feet of the film’s writer and director Michael Carreras; as noted earlier, gothic was not his preferred mode and his original plan for this one was to try and twist it up a bit by setting it in the present and have the mummy face off against modern military weapons like tanks and so forth; unfortunately Carreras père was still running Hammer (it’d be a few years before junior succeeded him) and vetoed this plan in favour of the sort of trad gothic young Michael was not fond of. As such, Carreras’ lack of enthusiasm unfortunately comes across, particularly in the cast (which badly needed Cushing and Lee); only Fred Clark’s vulgar American showman really rises to the pulpy occasion, no one else can be bothered. But, like I said, about halfway through—around the point where Clark is giving a trade show of the Egyptian exhibits and the mummy’s case is opened to reveal the contents have vanished—it suddenly starts to become a bit livelier, having hitherto been as sluggish as a mummy itself; once our revived Egyptian corpse is up and about, murderous rampage can and does ensue (including a surprising albeit offscreen head-stomping). It strikes me that, apart from the cast, the film’s biggest problem is really its narrative structure, leaving the real action to start too late in the day while not offering much of interest earlier on. There’s the germ of a decent film in here if only a scalpel could be taken to the script to rearrange some elements of the plot…

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