Cast & Crew
The tomb of Ra-Antef, the pharaoh, is excavated in 1900, and soon afterwards archeologist Professor Dubois is murdered. American showman Alexander King, who is financing the expedition, wants to take the remains and artifacts on an exhibition tour, despite the warnings of archeologists and Hashmi Bey, the Egyptian advisor, that violating the tomb activates its curse. En route to London, the party experiences the effects of the curse. John Bray, the boyfriend of Professor Dubois' daughter Annette, is attacked but is saved by Adam Beauchamp, who falls in love with Annette. As the exhibition is about to open, the mummy case is found to be empty. Ra-Antef fulfills the curse by murdering King, expedition leader Sir Giles Dalrymple, and Hashmi Bey and by abducting Annette. Beauchamp, really Ra-Antef's brother, is revealed to be cursed with immortality because he killed Ra-Antef. He confronts his brother in the sewers, asking Ra-Antef to kill him and also Annette so that they may spend eternity together. John Bray and Inspector MacKenzie are able to rescue Annette as Ra-Antef destroys both himself and his brother.
Jill Mai Meredith
The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
Unfortunately, this sequel also lacked the stars of the earlier Hammer mummy movies, the studio's two most important actors, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and the studio's A-team of director Terence Fisher and writer Jimmy Sangster, all of whom (along with art director Bernard Robinson) provided the continuity and great appeal of the studio's highly successful and long-lived Frankenstein and Dracula series. Although Robinson is on board again to oversee the distinctive Hammer look, The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, and its further follow-ups The Mummy's Shroud (1967) and Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971) had to make do with lesser known actors. Audiences didn't seem to mind too much, even if returns weren't as high as those for the Lee-Cushing franchises, and reviewers, while noting the routine nature of the story, had to admit the studio had gotten "this kind of scary hokum down to a grisly art."
The story follows the mayhem and murder that ensue when the tomb of Pharaoh Ra-Antef is unearthed in 1900, activating an ancient curse, as tomb excavations in such movies are wont to do. Thanks to the sponsorship of an American showman, Alexander King, the mummy and his artifacts are taken on tour where things start going awry; this includes the revelation that one of the expedition members is really the mummy's brother and cursed with immortality after killing the pharaoh. He is hell bent on having his resurrected sibling kill him and the woman he has fallen in love with so that they may live together in eternal peace.
Although The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb was not given the top-drawer treatment of the first Hammer mummy project, producer-director-writer Michael Carreras, son of studio chief James Carreras, was frequently able to make enjoyable pictures on lower budgets without name stars. He was helped here by Otto Heller's wide-screen cinematography, a challenge Carreras relished. "You have to be careful in getting the set-ups," he told an interviewer, "particularly when we had to shoot five to six minutes a day. If you move your camera about, you can bring twenty different people into frame in the same shot." Heller, of course, was no hack, having been the director of photography for Ealing's Alec Guinness comedy The Ladykillers (1955), Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1955), and Michael Powell's horror classic Peeping Tom (1960). Following this production, he shot The Ipcress File (1965), for which he won a British Academy Award, and Alfie (1966), earning another BAFTA nomination.
King, the American showman, is played with typical bluster by Fred Clark, the tall, bald character actor best known for comic roles in any number of American television shows and such films as How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956).
The cast also includes Terence Morgan as the mummy's scheming brother. Morgan had been on screen since the early 1940s and played Laertes in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), which also featured future Hammer star Peter Cushing. His beautiful love interest is played by Jeanne Roland. Publicized as a French "sex kitten," Roland was rumored to be a Burmese woman Michael Carreras had met at a party. "I thought she was ornamental," Carreras later said. "That's all she was meant to be." Roland also played small decorative roles in a couple of James Bond movies, You Only Live Twice (1967) and the 007 spoof (1966). The Mummy is played by Dickie Owen, who turns up in a non-mummy role in the sequel The Mummy's Shroud.
The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb was filmed between February and May 1964 and was released that October as a second feature in support of The Gorgon (1964), a higher-budgeted release directed by Fisher and starring Cushing, Lee, and Hammer scream queen Barbara Shelley.
Director: Michael Carreras
Producer: Michael Carreras
Screenplay: Michael Carreras (as Henry Younger)
Cinematography: Otto Heller
Editing: Eric Boyd-Perkins
Production Design: Bernard Robinson
Original Music: Carlo Martelli
Cast: Terence Morgan (Adam Beauchamp), Ronald Howard (John Bray), Fred Clark (Alexander King), Jeanne Roland (Annette Dubois), Dickie Owen (Ra-Antef).
C-80m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Rob Nixon
The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
SCREAM OF FEAR, THE GORGON & Two More Are Spotlighted in Icons of Horror Collection: Hammer Films
First the good news. Until now The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll has been difficult to see, and Sony's version on disc appears to be the full-length uncensored 88-minute cut. The show was also known as House of Fright in an 80-minute abridged version distributed by American-International.
The movie itself is an interesting experiment and is certainly better than Hammer's other 'transformation' movie released on DVD earlier this year, The Man Who Could Cheat Death. The twisted screenplay by Wolf Mankowitz (Expresso Bongo, The Day the Earth Caught Fire) plays fast and loose with Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story. Mankowitz's bearded, dour Henry Jekyll (Paul Massie) is a lone researcher attempting to define and control the duality of man. He wants to liberate the potential of man's personality, free of the restraints of conscience and morality. Meanwhile, Jekyll's wife Kitty (Dawn Addams of The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse) is proving rather two-faced as well. She's having an affair with the wastrel gambler Paul Allen (Christopher Lee), on Henry's money.
Jekyll uses a potion to split his personality all right, but the Hyde that emerges is a handsome and amoral cad eager for sensation. Hyde easily beds Maria (Norma Marla), a snake dancer at a bawdy night club-bordello. Hyde then fails to seduce his own wife Kitty (who doesn't recognize him). When he finds out that Kitty actually loves Paul, Henry/Hyde manages a strange series of machinations that impose tragedy on a structure more suitable for a farce. Paul has a fateful date with Maria's snake, while Hyde maneuvers Kitty and Maria into each other's bedrooms. As the song goes in The Band Wagon, everyone ends in mincemeat.
The director is Terence Fisher, and with the impressive music of David Heneker and Monty Norman, The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll gets off to a rousing start. Fisher's pace sometimes slackens -- a fairly dull shot of Jekyll injecting his potion sits in stasis seemingly forever, with the music working hard to keep our interest. The almost uniformly bright lighting enforces a rather artificial, theatrical atmosphere. Eric Boyd-Perkins' editing (Gorgo) enlivens several decorative dance scenes in the London fleshpots -- and adds a couple of jarringly inappropriate wipe transitions. Let's assume they were somebody else's idea.
Dawn Addams may well be dubbed but gives an effective performance as a woman leading a double life. In her own way Kitty is trying to accomplish the same identity split as her husband. For once given a character role with some meat on it, Christopher Lee proves that he can play a very convincing cad. Paul Massie is a gloomy Jekyll, and his Hyde always seems a twitch away from breaking into a crazed grin. Jekyll insists that his dual-man theories have nothing to do with good and evil, but Mr. Hyde's deeds are almost uniformly reprehensible. When Hyde's chemical transformations begin to get out of control, we don't sympathize with him. There's nobody to root for in this clutch of selfish people.
The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll is short of actual horror content. It's easy to see why the movie would need cutting for American release -- Hammer seems to be reaching for salacious sex to replace censor-forbidden sadism and violence. Some of the snake dancing by Norma Marla (or her double; she wears a mask) is pretty vulgar, including a shot of her plunging the head of a large boa constrictor into her mouth. The club harlots talk a bawdy streak, with the word "bitch" used prominently at least twice. And the film teases us with some near-nudity in the Hyde-Maria seduction scene. When Columbia pawned the film off on A.I.P. it must have been fairly inappropriate kiddie matinee material, even when cut.
The picture gives us a nice bit from Oliver Reed as an irate pimp (!) and a too-brief couple of moments with the talented child actress Janina Faye (Horror of Dracula). When the plot requires a London detective, we're not surprised to see stalwart Francis De Wolff enter the scene. David Kossoff (The Mouse that Roared) is Henry's moralizing friend, who realizes that the situation cannot be explained by the Coroner's facile conclusion that Henry Jekyll ventured too far into God's domain.
Scream of Fear is one of the best psychological thrillers immediately post- Psycho, a consistently entertaining mystery with a likeable lead character in Susan Strasberg. Wheelchair-bound Penny Appleby (Strasberg) returns to her home after years at school. Her school companion has drowned herself, and Penny's father has just died. The cliff-side Appleby estate is now being run by stepmother Jane (Ann Todd), who assures Penny that she'll always have a home. But the schoolgirl's unstable nerves are getting the better of her -- she keeps seeing her father's body turning up in odd places, like the storeroom behind the pool. Family chauffeur Bob (Ronald Lewis) tries to console Penny, while Doctor Pierre Gerrard (Christopher Lee) comes almost every night for dinner and to keep Jane company. Gerrard suggests repeatedly that Penny may have a stress-related nervous disorder, which makes Penny even more unstable.
On the success of this project screenwriter Jimmy Sangster would continue to write blood-soaked murder mysteries for Hammer, some with similar family settings and others relying on shaggy gimmicks. Scream of Fear (originally titled Taste of Fear in the U.K.) is a contemporary story given fine direction by Seth Holt, a former editor and producer who would make only four more movies before his death in 1971. In a completely convincing interior / exterior set of the Appleby manor house, Holt and his cameraman Douglas Slocombe create an excellent mystery atmosphere. Penny rolls her wheelchair cautiously to and fro, ever aware of her vulnerability. Bob the chauffeur risks his job to give Penny some comfort, and we suspect that the stepmother Ann is jealous. And what Dr. Gerrard has in mind is anybody's guess. Penny and Bob join forces to find some piece of evidence proving that Ann killed Penny's father, but it looks like someone has discovered their plan.
Ann Todd and Ronald Lewis play excellent support to Ms. Strasberg, who has one of those faces that commands both sympathy and attention. Penny shows inner strength as the pressure mounts. In a normal thriller we'd wait for the handsome boyfriend or lover to arrive and save the day, but the fact that it's a Hammer film leaves Penny's fate in serious doubt. What we remember most is Penny's relationship to water -- the Swiss lake, the murky, Diabolique-like swimming pond, the crashing waves that seem so mysterious behind Slocombe's misty lens diffusion.
It's best that viewers watch carefully from the beginning. Scream of Fear packs a number of satisfying surprises.
Prolific Hammer producer Michael Carreras directed The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb, an acceptable entry in Hammer's Mummy series. For flashback scenes the Carlo Martelli music score is interrupted by Franz Reizenstein's superior cues for the 1959 Terence Fisher version, reminding us that it was all done much better before. Carreras' camera placement is weak, and he has a tendency to make ragged pans across décor and faces, something that doesn't work out too well in the Techniscope format.
The script only half-develops its ideas. When a curse befalls the raiders of the tomb of Prince Ra-Antef, we know that scurvy Egyptologist Hashmi is behind it; he's played by Hammer's all-purpose eastern fanatic George Pastell (The Mummy, The Stranglers of Bombay). Fred Clark is fine as Alexander King, a Barnum-like impresario hoping to make millions by exhibiting the Mummy back in England. His subplot is terminated before it can really get up to speed. King is meant to provide cultural contrast as a vulgar American stirring up trouble, but he's easily the most honest person in the show. Everyone else seems to be hiding their identities or their feelings.
The really interesting material has to do with a love triangle. Egyptologist John Bray (Ronald Howard) watches while his intended Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland) falls in love with a more interesting new acquaintance. The smooth fiancée poacher Adam Beauchamp (top billed Terence Morgan) is a man with a secret. It seems that Adam knows altogether too much about Egyptian relics to be the amateur he claims he is.
The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb starts with a graphic hand-chopping but pulls back on the gore thereafter; what we get are about ten minutes of repetitious Mummy attacks modeled on Terence Fisher's original. Ra-Antef smashes through doors and lurches into fancy houses, but he lacks the style that Christopher Lee gave the role. He also seems physically unimpressive; Lee towered over his victims. The Mummy costume is rather baggy and shapeless, with a head that looks like the comic character Zippy covered in ashes. Ra-Antef's mask allows for no variation in expression.
But the show moves quickly and has great color and lighting by cinematographer Otto Heller. Ms. Roland is stunning in her gowns, including the number she picks for a midnight stroll through the sewer, carried by the Mummy. It's interesting that Hammer's male leads at this time all seemed to be in their 40s ... almost as if the young Turks in the front office wanted to avoid the romantic competition that younger actors would pose.
The Gorgon is one of Terence Fisher's more interesting horrors, a film about a female monster pursued not by a strong Van Helsing-type character but by men weakened by their interest in women. Paul Heitz (Richard Pasco) wants to discover what killed his brother and father, but the authority figures in the tiny town of Vandorf seem intent on hiding the source of seven unsolved murders in five years. Asylum doctor Namaroff (Peter Cushing) submits false death certificates for the victims, to hide the fact that all of them have been literally turned to stone, or "gorgonized." Paul sends for his professor friend Karl Meister (Christopher Lee) to help solve the mystery.
In the script provided by John Gilling, all the men live in fear. Dr. Namaroff is particularly ineffective in controlling women, even a madwoman in his asylum. Nursing assistant Carla Hoffman (favorite Hammer horror queen Barbara Shelley) is repulsed by Namaroff's jealousy when she becomes attracted to Paul. Paul and the Doctor end up fighting each other instead of watching out for the dreaded Gorgon Magaera, who claims her victims on the second night of each full moon.
Fisher directs this outing with considerable skill, maintaining tension in a story with very little action. James Bernard's eerie Gorgon theme puts new chills into the familiar Hammer castle sets. Barbara Shelley's Carla is a sympathetic heroine to Richard Pasco's sincere hero, but Christopher Lee's professor is the only real take-charge character in the story. Interestingly, this horror piece has no comedic coachmen or gravediggers, making it distinctly more sober than most other Hammer Gothics.
What probably stunted The Gorgon at the box office was its lack of a good monster. The tall Magaera is shown too much and is little more than a scowling woman with greasepaint makeup and rubber snakes in her hair. We're told that a complicated Roy Ashton makeup concept was thrown out in favor of a quick fix by the effects department. The movie was obviously done on a tiny budget -- how Hammer continually made costume pictures so cheaply is quite a mystery -- and the makeup and special effects available in 1964 just weren't up to the job. But as a drama The Gorgon works very well. Screenwriter John Gilling would move on to direct a pair of similarly low-budget, impressive Hammers, The Reptile and Plague of the Zombies.
The four features in the Icons Of Horror Collection: Hammer Films are fine transfers given expert attention. All of the films, including the half-frame Techniscope titles, are from new elements made directly from the original negatives. The Gorgon has rich colors that associate it with the earlier Hammer output originally printed in Technicolor. It and Scream of Fear are also matted and pillar-boxed, masking away acres of dead space above and below the desired 1:66 compositions.
Sony provides no added commentaries or featurette extras but each film is accompanied by an original trailer. The trailer for Curse of the Mummy's Tomb is so strident that it makes fun of the picture, while the tense, graphic-based coming attraction teaser for Scream of Fear generates maximum interest by showing almost nothing but Susan Strasberg's screaming face. For 1961, it's a very progressive ad.
For more information about Icons of Horror Collection: Hammer Films, visit Sony Pictures.To order Icons of Horror Collection: Hammer Films, go to TCM Shopping.
by Glenn Erickson
SCREAM OF FEAR, THE GORGON & Two More Are Spotlighted in Icons of Horror Collection: Hammer Films
Released in Great Britain in October 1964.