christopher lee, hammer films, Hammer Horror, jimmy sangster, peter cushing, terence fisher, The Mummy
Within the last three years of the 1950s, Hammer Films had reshaped the Universal Classic monsters canon with The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Revenge of Frankenstein, bringing into full glorious and gory colour for a then, modern audience, With it, Hammer would also unite one of celluloid history’s greatest co-stars in the horror genre in Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee. Before the turn of the decade, the British production house would turn their attention to yet another Universal offering, The Mummy, and keep that winning formula of Cushing, Lee and film director Terence Fisher. Cushing played the dashing hero, and Lee subjected to the ‘monster’ character and hidden behind full make up for the last time with Hammer. It was a tortuous and gruelling affair for its two leads, and would lead Cushing to the hospital following a scene gone awry. Cushing would also become more bold in his acting choices and in cementing his character traits on screen and guiding his director in some of teh action sequences.
The familiar tale of the mummified High Priest Kharis (Lee) resurrected under the power of Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) to seek revenge for disturbing Princess Ananka’s tomb, is given the Hammer treatment. Here Cushing plays the part of John Banning, one of the doomed expedition crew. His father, Stephen (Felix Aylmer) has been driven mad and escorted to the asylum with his prophecies of the forthcoming mummy. Initially scoffed at and ridiculed, the subject takes a dark and sour turn when Stephen is killed by Kharis’ bandaged hands.
Kharis would also be moved by his lost love, Ananka, whose appearance is uncannily similar to John Banning’s wife, (Yvonne Furneaux) and thus brings about our damsel in distress theme.
Jimmy Sangster would once again herald the screenplay writing duties, fusing Universal’s The Mummy; The Mummy’s Tomb; and The Mummy’s Ghost to puff out his take on the story for Hammer.
Upon its cinematic release, the name Hammer was starting to cause quite a stir among moviegoers, and The Mummy became a big success for the company. It even surpassed its successors in the box office and in some ways is a more solid feature in its narrative, and effects. Despite the climatic ending where Kharis played by go to stuntman Eddie Powell sinking into the depths of the quagmire, the British Film company was rising to new heights. And it was all in the name of horror.
- Saul Muerte.