The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

THE MUMMY’S SHROUD plays it downright serious, to some extend with success, on other levels a bit of a failure. Let’s start with a few negative points first. As mentioned in other user-comments, the prologue knows a poorly staged and acted Egyptian sequence that might have you chuckling because of how cheap the sets look (it really looks a bit like a high school stage-play). But nevertheless, plot-wise that prologue was a necessity to provide the history to the story. Another thing is that the plot relies a lot on the cast to tell the story. Which is good and bad. Good thing is, that the whole cast is more than capable when it comes to performances. The bad thing is: It results often in too much talking and less thrills and chills. The budget restrictions also show, resulting in limited sets. There’s only a handful of rooms and a couple of narrow city streets, all clearly built on a sound-stage. The film-makers just inserted the same over-view establishing shot of the city a couple of times, and the viewer should get the impression that the cast is running around in it. All this really isn’t a complaint, because it works and that’s just the way it was shot on a modest budget. It’s just that it’s clearly noticeable, albeit the set-design was handled with care. The handful of outdoors shots, weren’t filmed in a real desert of course. You can clearly see it’s just a few hills were they tossed around an amount of sand (in one shot you can even see some plants in the background that shouldn’t normally grow in a desert). Still, no complaints, because the film shows they did the best they could.

Now for the stuff that matters. The story is well-constructed. Of course, it’s about a mummy who comes to life and goes on a vengeful rampage to kill off all the cursed people who entered his tomb and placed him in a museum. But the little catch is, it’s actually a shroud that causes the shrieks and slaughter, for he who has it, holds the power to resurrect the mummy. Knowing this, it’s up to the archaeologists and the local police detective to figure out who exactly wants the members of the expedition dead. Sadly, the mystery isn’t there, since the plot really serves up only one possible suspect. But still, nothing to nag about, because there still is the main attraction: The murderous mummy. The first time he comes to life features a memorable close-up shot of his face. The special effects shot where he opens his dusty & crusty eyelids (‘animatronics’ avant là lettre) is effectively creepy. I even re-wound that bit, because at first I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at, until they started to move. The mummy’s got strength and he’s a real stalker, shuffling his way through the streets at night into buildings and bedrooms. The kills are nicely staged, and my favorite one involves a jar of acid and a fire. Don’t expect anything too graphic though. It might be a Hammer movie, but after all it was still the sixties. There’s a decent, short but satisfying climax in the museum too. It shows us that a mummy’s shoulder is firm soil to plant an axe into, although it’s not likely to stop him.

One more thing that made this movie worthwhile watching too. An actress. Maggie Kimberly. I just can’t quite put it into words… At first you don’t particularly notice her. She’s just part of the expedition. But the more screen time she gets in different scenes, the more she just demands your attention. She just had a mesmerizing look to her beauty. The more I saw her, the more I wanted to see of her. She has gorgeous blond hair, always tied together. And at one point I was wishing her to finally let her hair down, for it to engulf her shoulders… And then wham! The last scenes has her with her hair down. Ravishing! I just love it when a girl grants my wish. Even in a movie. Anyway, I’m going way off topic here. But whatever happened to her as an actress? She only did three movies and a TV episode. Strange…

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