October would prove to be a prolific time for Hammer Film Productions as far as output goes as they looked at ways to reinvent themselves and draw in a younger generation of audience. The month had already seen the release of double feature Twins of Evil and Hands of the Ripper and for their third release the British film company would look again to the movies that shaped them, inspired by the Universal horror films that were so successful in the 1930s.
In spite of three previous films released based on The Mummy, Hammer would once again look to the source for creativity in Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of the Seven Stars shaped for a modern audience courtesy of screenwriter Christopher Wicking (Scream and Scream Again).
The film itself would be seeped in tragedy with its initial star Peter Cushing stepping aside to play the role of Julian Fuchs (replaced by Andrew Keir) after one day of filming to be by his wife’s side, following her diagnosis with emphysema. Furthermore, the film’s director Seth Holt (Taste of Fear, The Nanny) suffered a heart attack five weeks into the shoot and producer Michael Carrerras would step in to complete the shoot.
Despite all this, there is a visual style to the narrative that is in keeping with the direction that Hammer was hoping to achieve which stands up. Despite its obvious deviations from Stoker’s novel, there is a level of tension that is successfully established with the dispatch of the archaeological team (consisting of great actors in James Villiers and Aubrey Morris) who unearthed the tomb of evil Egyptian queen,Tera (Valerie Leon).
Throw in the added component that Julian Fuchs’ daughter Margaret bears a striking resemblance to the villainess, then we’re presented with a body possession flick into the equation too. Coupled with an ambiguous ending that leads us to question which personality survived as the closing credits roll
There may be questions around a potential curse surrounding the films’ production which clouded peoples’ perceptions. There are also glaringly obvious misbeats in the muddled storyline strung together by Carreras in an attempt to fill in the blanks not yet captured in the films shoot, but for me Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb climbs above Hammer’s previous two Mummy outings for its bold and and visual approach to an age-old tale.
- Saul Muerte