Warner Home Video
Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
Extras: Trailer, Cast List
Hammer’s ’The Mummy’ offers up the same familiar storyline used to great effect in Universal’s earlier line of ’Mummy’ classics. Peter Cushing stars as John Banning, an archaeologist searching with his father Stephen (Felix Aylmer) for the lost tomb of Princess Ananka. As they are about to breach the tomb’s walls, the men are warned by the mysterious Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) that if they disturb the tomb they will unleash a terrible curse. Ignoring the warning they enter the tomb and begin preparing its contents for return to England. In an off-screen incident, the elder Dr. Banning goes mad and is institutionalized back home for three years before coming to his senses and warning his son that they have unwittingly freed a terrible monster.
While Universal’s ’Mummy’ movies beyond the 1932 original began a slow descent into unintentional camp, Hammer’s version retains much of the suspense and horror that makes the mummy such a memorable monster. Jimmy Sangster’s story is well-paced and hits all the right chords while Terence Fisher’s direction is once again superb, featuring many of his trademark shots and framings. The cast is solid as well with Christopher Lee’s mummy standing out as one of Hammer’s best monster creations. This Kharis is no shambling slow poke in toilet paper. He moves with steady determination and bears down on his prey so fast and furiously that they are helpless to defend themselves. This is the mummy at his absolute best.
Audio is presented in English and French <$DD,Dolby Digital> mono mixes. The soundtrack exhibits a decent dynamic range although there is no deep bass and the highest notes of the musical score tend to distort. But dialogue is always clear and blends in well with the music and sound effects for an overall pleasant-sounding experience.
While I’m extremely pleased with this DVD release I’m also a bit saddened by Warner’s blasé attitude toward their catalog titles. While ’The Mummy’ is a fine disc in its own right (although a few bonus features wouldn’t have hurt), Warner Brothers ruins what could have been a positive moment by stating upfront that fans shouldn’t expect more of the same anytime soon. Ah well, guess I’ll just have to be content with Anchor Bay’s Hammer Films Collection and this one, lone offering from Warner Brothers.