The Mummy's Shroud (1966)
"Beware the beat... of the cloth wrapped feet..." if you can get past that awful tagline this isn't a bad effort at all. It's not really a comedy, although it has a few funny moments, but if people were expecting some kind of Carry On Screaming affair, they would have been disappointed. Disappointed and scared. Perhaps. Well, it was 1966.
As with most of these things, the story kicks off in Egyptian times, complete with nice heiroglyphics to help the plot along without costing Hammer too much money. After a battle between a bunch of blacked up East End lorry drivers in what looks like a broom cupboard, the Pharoah's young son is spirited away by the faithful slave Prem, only to die anyway in the desert. So that was worth it then, eh?
Present day is then indicated by mixing film of the cast mucking about in a sand quarry with stock footage of Egypt. A group of English people are looking for the young prince's last resting place (why anyone would know where it was anyway is never explained). Claire, the token bird, who has very bad eyebrows and looks like the woman from Sky's Soccer AM, is also psychic and predicts that "When the desert is behind us begins the real danger... and some of us won't survive." She's a right bundle of laughs this one, I can tell you. I think I went out with her sister once.
Prem's mummified body has already been found, and now vain and egotistical millionaire Stanley Preston (a sort of 1920s Chris Evans) is financing this latest expedition. He's following on behind, wondering what his money's being spent on and worrying about missing out on any glory that might be going spare.
Of course, the first group find the tomb, only to be hassled by an overacting Roger Delgado, who on informing them that his family have guarded the tomb for thousands of years, walks away and lets them get on with it. In the tomb they find a shroud over the body of the prince, on which is an ancient curse of some kind which Claire refuses to read. Sir Basil, the leader of the first expedition, gets bitten by a snake. Then Preston's party turns up (quite a small desert, this one) and they cart the body and the shroud back to town.
The Egyptian cure for snake bite appears to involve locking the unfortunate victim in an asylum and threatening to shoot them if they try to escape. Bad news for Sir Basil, and bad news for all those cowboys you used to see cutting open the wound and sucking the poison out, cos that's obviously not the way to do it. Sir Basil escapes anyway, only to have his head crushed off-screen by the vengeful mummy, brought back to life by Roger Delgado's eye-rolling antics and forceful reading of the curse off the shroud. Still with me? The mummy then goes on a short kill-crazy rampage, setting fire to a photographer, throwing Michael Ripper out of a window, and giving Preston a vigorous massage before slamming his head against a wall.
Finally, Roger the Dodger gives the game away somewhat (the dolt) by telling what's left of the search party that the shroud holds the key to controlling Prem's mummified remains. Claire reads out "the words of death" and the mummy turns on Roger, before committing mummy suicide by crushing its own head into dust. The End. Special note must go to Michael Ripper as Preston's PA Lungbarrow - inspired bit of character work. Nice neck-snapping death, too.
Last updated: February 25, 2010
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