Monday, 21 January 2013

Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (1971)

Directed, with a distinct lack of flair, by Seth Holt (who died before shooting was completed so I will say no more as I don't want a bad reputation for speaking ill of the dead - some scenes in the film were shot by producer Michael Carreras), this is a bland Hammer movie trying to pretend it's something more exciting than it actually is. No, I was not expecting a bandaged, shambling figure to be centre stage here but I WAS expecting something with a bit of mystery and suspense.

The plot is all about lovely Margaret Fuchs (the beautiful Valerie Leon, not a great actress though), the daughter of Prof. Julian Fuchs (Andrew Keir, the man who stepped in after Peter Cushing had to leave the movie). Many years ago, the professor went on an expedition to Egypt and uncovered the tomb of Queen Tera, a woman interred after the removal of one hand. It was at the exact moment that Tera's name was spoken that his daughter was born and it has become more and more apparent over the years that the two are somehow linked. When the time is right, with thanks to her dad carelessly giving her a big ring found in Egypt, Margaret is possessed by the spirit of Queen Tera (you can tell because of the thin line of blood that starts appearing at her wrist) and seeks out the expedition members. She wants to reclaim the relics that were found in her tomb and to bring herself fully back to life.

There's really not a lot to be said about this film without turning things into some written form of monotone. It's as bland as bland can be. The acting is so-so; Keir is solid, Leon is not, James Villiers is good fun as a shady figure who knows what's going on, Hugh Burden is not given much to do except a little overreaction to get people's attention and Mark Edwards is just the standard class A ineffectual boyfriend. Nobody is memorable anyway.

The story is nothing new, especially to fans of any Mummy movies, and it's development is pretty clumsy and obvious. You know from the very first scenes exactly what is going to happen here, no subtlety or attempt to raise tension is used at all. I have no idea how close the script by Christopher Wicking is to the source material (The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker) but I'm going to assume that it's not half as faithful as it could be. Although it does show the seven featured stars on a few occasions.

Then we have the horror and scenes of bloodletting . . . . . . which count for nothing. There IS no horror here, nothing to instill fear in even the most sensitive of viewers and the death scenes are all shot without actually showing you anything that could provide some technicoloured entertainment. It's one of those many horror movies with a trailer promising so much and delivering so little. Nothing lurid, livid or lively here and it practically defines the word "insipid".

A disappointing Hammer movie, that at least features the lovely Leon as eye candy and has some nice moments of drama dotted there and there, and a disappointing Mummy movie. There is some appeal here for less discerning viewers, like myself, but it's extremely limited.


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