Monday, 10 October 2011

Hammered Again

Gem (Channel 90) seems to have a collection of old Hammer horror movies on file that they bring out of the vaults for lat night enthusiasts on Saturday nights. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, this suits me down to the ground and I'm either catching up on old movies i've missed and only read about, or else reliving my youth watching 1970's styled vampires bite down on buxom women in low-cut blouses. Which brings me to the Gem that was on last night, "Blood from the Mummy's Tomb".

Adapated from Bram Stoker's novel The Jewel of Seven Stars, this stylish Hammer Horror film was director Seth Holt's last picture - he died from a heart attack on the set five weeks into the six week shooting schedule. The typical mummy movie genre is given a slight twist by Hammer, with the voluptuous Valerie Leon (remember we are talking Hammer here). Unsurprisingly, the normal garb of bandages is replaced for as much of Leon's bare flesh in the film as possible in the early 70's.
The director knows she’s the major attraction of the film and Leon is just drop dead gorgeous. She plays a dual role - Margaret the daughter of the expedition leader and Tera, the evil Egyptian queen. Leon spends most of her time as Tera sleeping in a jewelled sarcophagus in golden underwear and essentially does exactly the same as Margaret except she stands up and talks. Leon has an amazing presence and body and Hammer have used both of these to advantage. Filmed on an ultra low budget (200,000 pounds), the film works rather well given the changes from Stoker's original plot line. (It was to be remade as The Awakening years later with Charlton Heston and was even less successful than this effort). Not bad for Hammer, and a little different than the usual bandaged jerky mummy movie, but if it's on late at night, set the timer and record it like I should have.
Burn brightly, Pete.

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