Hammer Chooseday #4:Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb

Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971) 4/5

Enjoyable Egyptology hokum, based on a book by Bram Stoker, and made watchable by the beautiful Valerie Leon in a rare lead role. In fact, she plays a double role: that of Margaret, the daughter of Professor Fuchs (Andrew Keir), and also that of the ancient Egyptian Queen Tera. She waits all her career for a lead role, then two come along at once.

One way to stop biting your nails.

We discover that Margaret’s mother died giving birth to her at exactly the same moment that Fuchs makes the discovery of the inexplicably still-bleeding body of the Queen. Now what a coincidence you may say. Or perhaps there’s something going on here. Maybe even just get on with it.

I bet my wife is giving birth at home right now. It's all about bleeding mummies today.

I bet my wife is giving birth at home right now. It’s all about bleeding mummies today.

Twenty years later, Margaret, plagued by nightmares, is given a ring by her father on the day before her birthday. And guess who the ring used to belong to?

As modelled by Thing. Father, really, you shouldn't have.

As modelled by Thing. You shouldn’t have, Father, really, you shouldn’t have.

What ensues is the discovery that, among many deaths, Margaret is the vessel through which Tera still wields her magic, ahead of her planned resurrection. Along the way we are treated to such creepy images as the shadow of a jackal, and a crawling, severed hand.

I hear Strepsils are good for sore throats.

I hear Strepsils are good for sore throats.

In the end, both of Leon’s characters are buried in rubble as a battle between them occurs. Only one woman survives-but which one? Lay in a hospital bed, wrapped ridiculously in a swathe of bandages covering everything but the eyes, and looking just like, well, a mummy, a clue is that the patient is missing a hand. Hmm. Thank God for the NHS. Sleep well.

Why Grandmother, what nice eyes you have.

Why Grandmother, what nice eyes you have.

I enjoyed this film, but it could have been so much more for the presence of the great Peter Cushing, who had to leave the production after just one day to nurse his wife who had fallen ill (and eventually died). Although Keir does a satisfactory job as a last minute stand in.

Leon and Cushing together on the first day of filming, before his unfortunate withdrawal.

Leon and Cushing together on the first day of filming, before his unfortunate withdrawal.

Also, five weeks into filming, director Seth Holt suffered a fatal heart attack, encouraging rumours of a mummy’s curse, and another director had to fill in to film the remaining sequences.

Given Leon’s presence, it is curious why Hammer never gave her another lead role. Someone suggested to me that it could be because she was quite tall, and leading actors of the time did not want to be set against taller leading ladies. And they couldn’t run around graveyards wearing heels. Or maybe it could be down to something much more credible like a mummy’s curse. Either way, Leon can lay claim to be the only Bond girl who worked with two different Bonds-both Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Whenever put on the spot to name her favourite she played it safe, saying that she thought both were good.

See-savvy too.

Now where did that hand come from?

Now where did that hand come from?

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