Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#2,094. The Mummy's Shroud (1967)

Directed By: John Gilling

Starring: André Morell, John Phillips, David Buck

Tag line: "Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet!"

Trivia: This was the last Hammer production to be shot at Bray Studios

The Mummy’s Shroud was the third entry in Hammer’s Mummy series, behind 1959’s The Mummy and ‘64s The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, and by this point, the series had run out of steam.

Following a pre-title sequence set 2,000 years ago, in which we learn the history of the boy pharaoh Kah-To-Bey (Toolsie Persaud) and his faithful servant Prem (Dickie Owen), The Mummy’s Shroud transports us to 1920’s Egypt, where an expedition to find the burial chamber of Kah-To-Bey is currently underway. Led by the prestigious archaeologist Sir Basil Walden (Andre Morell), the expedition, which also includes Sir Basil’s assistants Paul (David Buck), Harry (Tim Barrett), and Claire de Sange (Maggie Kimberly), has been missing for a month, and wealthy aristocrat Stanley Preston (John Phillips), who financed the mission, has come to Egypt to help look for them.

But Sir Basil and his team aren’t lost; they’re simply closing in on their ultimate destination, and as luck would have it, Preston meets up with the group just as they find Kah-To-Bey’s final resting place. Despite the warnings of Hasmid (Roger Delgado), the tomb’s guardian, who tells them a curse awaits those who desecrate the boy Pharaoh’s body, the group transports Kah-To-Bey’s remains back to Cairo. But along with the fame that their discovery brings them, Preston, Sir Basil and the others find themselves being hunted by an ancient mummy (Eddie Powell), the protector of Kah-To-Bey, who will not rest until all of them are dead.

Like most Hammer films, The Mummy’s Shroud features some excellent music (the score, composed by Don Banks, is amazing) and top-notch performances. John Phillips is simultaneously slimy and arrogant as “money man” Stanley Preston, who tries to convince the world he himself was responsible for locating Kah-To-Bey’s tomb (Preston even arranges to have Sir Basil, who was suffering from a nasty snake bite, shipped off to an asylum to get him out of the way). Also quite good are Richard Warner as Inspector Barrani of the Egyptian police force (who is investigating the mysterious murders committed by the mummy); and the always-reliable Michael Ripper, who plays Longbarrow, Preston’s sheepish personal assistant. And while the pre-title sequence (where we’re whisked away to ancient Egypt) wouldn’t rank as one of Hammer’s best flashbacks, it was good enough to start the movie off on the right foot.

Unfortunately, The Mummy’s Shroud doesn’t have much else going for it. Missing are the impressive set pieces that graced most of Hammer’s earlier films (including the original Mummy), and the make-up effects on the mummy itself are especially weak (his face looks like its covered in Papier-mâché, and instead of being wrapped in bandages, this mummy wears what looks like tan pajamas). 

Worst of all, though, is the fact that the first half of The Mummy’s Shroud is dialogue-heavy, and moves along at a snail’s pace. Tings do liven up a bit in the second half, and the finale, complete with some impressive special effects, is pretty damn exciting. Alas, it’s too little too late (the creature itself doesn’t even appear until we’ve past the halfway point). Slow and plodding The Mummy’s Shroud ranks as one of the dullest Hammer films I’ve seen in a while.

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