Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (1972)

Hammer films were classy, well-made and well-written on the whole, no matter what you may have read in the past. And these accolades aren't just saved for the earlier work - Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula etc.

Blood From The Mummy's Tomb was made in 1972 - around the same time as the incredibly lame Horror Of Frankenstein - and it's ace. Proof? Well, how about this - several years later a film called The Awakening was made using the same source material (Bram Stoker's The Jewel Of The Seven Stars), with a big budget and a star name (Charlton Heston, who sadly does not keep his vest on during the proceedings) - and it's quite appalling.

Of course, I'm biased slightly about the first film, mainly because it's got Valerie Leon in it. If you have to ask "Valerie Who?" then I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill you. So what if she made only one Hammer film? So what if she had a "no nudity" rule? It all just adds to the mystique of the woman the word "statuesque" was invented to describe. What's more, she's in it twice - once as a busty, not-too-many-clothes-wearing comatose Egyptian Princess, and again as a busty, floaty-nightie-wearing dreamy eyed murderous nutter - cum - innocently-possessed-by- evil-force saucepot.

Andrew Keir (deputising for a recently widowered Peter Cushing) is his usual self - a fat, shouty know-it-all who breaks into the tomb of The Evil One and finds a perfectly perserved body of an Egyptian Princess. Perfectly preserved, except for a missing hand. That hand was lopped off in the pre titles sequence by a bunch of Egyptian priests (okay, blacked-up luvvies) who immediately come to regret their actions when they're butchered by an invisible force. Gory throat-gougings abound in this one - still, makes a change from the usual mummy head-stampings.

Prof Fuchs (Keir's character) takes the body back to his house and keeps her in the cellar, and when his daughter (who was born at the exact same time as he broke into the tomb) grows up, she looks exactly like the Princess.

Cue much gory death as prophecies are fulfilled and the Evil Queen (using Val's body) sets about reviving herself by retrieving the ancient artifacts she needs.

Hammer also decided to chuck in a bit of incestuous necrophilia (always a good selling point for a film) and some great set pieces - the scene in the asylum sticks in the viewers mind long after the equally disturbing twist ending. Of course, there are bad points - the bit where a woman is menaced by a pottery cat stinks strongly of cheese. But in the main it's a quality film, and a genuine Hammer high spot.

Last updated: February 25, 2010

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