Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Terence Fisher|
Anthony Nelson Keys
|Written by||Jimmy Sangster|
|Music by||Franz Reizenstein|
|Studio||Hammer Film Productions|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||25 September 1959 (UK)|
|Running time||88 minutes|
The Mummy is a 1959 British horror film, directed by Terence Fisher and starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. It was released on 25 September 1959. It was written by Jimmy Sangster and produced by Michael Carreras and Anthony Nelson Keys for Hammer Film Productions.
Though the title suggests Universal Pictures' 1932 film of the same name, the film actually derives its plot and characters entirely from two later Universal films, The Mummy's Hand and The Mummy's Tomb, with the climax borrowed directly from The Mummy's Ghost. The character name "Joseph Whemple" is the only connection with the 1932 version.
In Egypt in 1895, archaeologists John Banning (Cushing), his father Stephen (Felix Aylmer) and his uncle Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) are searching for the tomb of Princess Ananka, the high priestess of the god Karnak. John has a broken leg and cannot accompany his father and uncle when they open the tomb. Before they enter, an Egyptian man named Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) warns them not to go in, lest they face the fatal curse against desecraters. Stephen and Joseph ignore him, and discover within the sarcophagus of Ananka. After Joseph leaves to tell John the good news, Stephen finds the Scroll of Life and reads from it. He then screams off-screen and is found in a catatonic state.
Three years later, back in England, Stephen Banning comes out of his catatonia at the Engerfield Nursing Home for the Mentally Disordered, and sends for his son. He tells him that when he read from the Scroll of Life, he unintentionally brought back to life Kharis (Lee), the mummified high priest of Karnak. He was sentenced to be entombed alive to serve as the guardian of Princess Ananka's tomb as punishment for attempting to bring her back to life out of forbidden love. Now, Stephen tells his disbelieving son that Kharis will hunt down and kill all those who desecrated Ananka's tomb.
Meanwhile, Mehemet Bey, revealed as a devoted worshiper of Karnak, comes to Engerfield under the alias of Mehemet Akir to wreak vengeance on the Bannings. He hires a pair of drunken carters, Pat and Mike, to bring the slumbering Kharis in a crate to his rented home, but the two men's drunken driving cause Kharis' crate to fall off and sink into a bog. Later, using the Scroll of Life, Mehemet exhorts Kharis to rise from the muck, then sends him to murder Stephen Banning. When Kharis kills Joseph Whemple the next night, he does so before the eyes of John Banning, who shoots him with a revolver at close range to no effect.
Police Inspector Mulrooney is assigned to solve the murders, but because he is sceptical and deals only in "cold, hard facts", he does not believe John's incredible story about a killer mummy, even when John figures that he is to be Kharis' third victim. While Mulrooney investigates, John notices that his wife Isobel bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Ananka. Listening to a man who saw the mummy walking, Mulrooney slowly begins to wonder if John is right.
Mehemet Bey sends the mummy to the Bannings' home to slay his final victim. However, when Isobel rushes to her husband's aid, Kharis sees her, releases John and leaves. Mehemet Bey mistakenly believes that Kharis has completed his task, and prepares to return to Egypt. John, suspecting him of being the one controlling the mummy, pays him a visit, much to his surprise.
After John leaves, Mehemet Bey leads Kharis in a second attempt on John's life. The mummy knocks out Mulrooney, while Mehemet Bey deals with another policemen guarding the house. Kharis then finds and starts to choke John. Alerted by John's shouts, Isobel once again causes Kharis to release him. When Mehemet orders Kharis to kill her, he refuses and kills Mehemet instead when he tries to finish her off himself. The mummy carries an unconscious Isobel into the swamp, followed by John, Mulrooney and other policemen. John yells to Isobel and when she regains consciousness, she tells Kharis to put her down. The mummy reluctantly obeys and when Isobel has moved away from him, the policemen open fire, causing Kharis to sink into a mire, taking the Scroll of Life with him.
|Peter Cushing||John Banning|
|Yvonne Furneaux||Isobel Banning / Princess Ananka|
|Eddie Byrne||Inspector Mulrooney|
|Felix Aylmer||Stephen Banning|
|Raymond Huntley||Joseph Whemple|
|George Pastell||Mehemet Bey|
|George Woodbridge||P. C. Blake|
|Willoughby Gray||Dr. Reilly|
Critical reception Edit
The Mummy was a success with critics. The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films wrote of the film: "Structurally little more than a string of picturesque and nice-lit killings, The Mummy's melancholic presentation and romantic undertow grants it a certain atmosphere which elevates this bandaged brute far beyond its cinematic predecessors.  The film itself holds an 100% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.
In other media Edit
The film was adapted into a 12-page comic strip for the July 1978 issue of the magazine Hammer's Halls of Horror. It was drawn by David Jackson from a script by Steve Moore. The cover of the issue featured a painting by Brian Lewis of Christopher Lee as Kharis.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Titan Books, 2007 p 43
- ↑ Hammer's Halls of Horror (Top Sellers Limited) 2 (22).
- Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (September 2007). "The Mummy". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films (limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 1 84576 185 5.