The Mummy (1959)

After their first successes with takes on famous stories, hammer’s finest trio teamed up again to make this delightful take on the legend of an Egyptian mummy, imaginatively titled ‘The Mummy’. Peter Cushing is an actor that needs no introduction as he has carried many a Hammer horror production and forever engraved himself in the minds of horror fans across the globe. His performance in this film isn’t his finest ever (or even his finest under Terence Fisher), but it’s more than solid and, to be honest, Peter Cushing is one of the few actors that could just spend the running time doing nothing and still have this horror fan riveted, such is the power of his screen presence. Christopher Lee has proved himself as the successor to both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi on a number of occasions with his portrayals of the classic monsters, and although he’s never surpassed the great masters; this is another of those occasions. Of course, the one and only Terence Fisher direct the film. Fisher is an under-appreciated director in the horror genre as, although he hasn’t done much outside of Hammer, the films he made for Hammer are what have gone on to be some of their most respected classics. This is another one.

The film looks great, and despite the fact that it’s low budget and was shot well over forty years ago, the colours and locations still bode well, and give the film a fresh feel. The Hammer style camp feeling is very much on display in The Mummy, and for the Hammer fan; that can only be a good thing. The Egypt setting marks a nice departure for the team, as up until this point, audiences had only seen them together in more urban settings. To be honest, aside from Boris Karloff’s performance, I didn’t much like the Universal classic. I don’t hesitate, therefore, to label this film superior in every respect other than the lead. This version of the story is handled in a way that is much easier to like than Karl Freud’s version. The story itself is a more than interesting one, and ties in the intrigue of the Egyptian civilisation, with themes of modern society breaking their sacred code to have a museum full of relics, which is really quite thought-provoking.