Movie Review: The Mummy (1959)

They just don’t make movies like this anymore. A monster who stalks his prey to carry out bloody vengeance.

There was innocence always contained in Mummy films where even though the Mummy would walk around in society it was never really explained.

I liked Mummy movies because of the curses and well that The Mummy was supposed to be relentless and that nothing on Earth can stop this creature from achieving its goal. The Mummy was also unique from other creatures because it had just one goal.

When the Friday the 13th series was at its peak with the very weak “Jason Takes Manhattan” some of the Mummy aspects were implemented into Jason. Mummy movies were also in some respect the first slasher films.

1959’s The Mummy became the first Hammer horror film to be embraced by Universal Pictures in using parts of their concepts for remakes. Kharis, the Mummy was the same name used in many Mummy films played by such legends as Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff. Peter Cushing’s character’s father Stephen Banning was the same character who was in “The Mummy’s Tomb”. Matter of a fact, this film is closer to “The Mummy’s Tomb” than the original Karloff film.

The movie was once again dreamed up by the Hammer brain trust of Fisher and Sangster and once more they hit a home run for Hammer. Mummy became the third most successful franchise at Hammer Studios.

Peter Cushing once again playing the scientist with a close encounter with a monster does a brilliant job. His performance here is more subdued than his Van Helsing or Dr. Frankenstein.

But it is so nice to see Cushing able to tweak his craft to find a new side of that kind of role. Really his Banning character could be Van Helsing all over again if he wanted it to be.

What is interesting is that Cushing’s dad is called Stephen Banning which was the name of the main character from “The Mummy’s Tomb”.

Christopher Lee’s performance is once again brilliant and well practically silent. His walk and presence is such a departure from any of his other roles you hardly know it is him under the makeup. He is still the only living actor to have played three of the top four monsters of all time. (Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy)

The whole drawn out flashback scene with Christopher Lee as Kharis before death is wondrously lavish and really cool to behold. I have to say I really got a kick out this scene. It was definitely one of my favorite of the film.

One of the underrated performances in the film is of George Pastell who plays Mehemet Bey. His character warns the archeologists of the curse and delivers the Mummy to England. His wickedly devoted presence and performance is a driving force in the film’s authenticity and respect to previous Mummy films.  I sympathized with the guy even though we know he is selfish and evil.

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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