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Film / The Mummy (1959)

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"He who robs the graves of Egypt, dies."
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The first Hammer Horror film to feature a Mummy, released in 1959. Directed by Terence Fisher.

In 1895 Egypt, a group of archeologists led by John Banning (Peter Cushing) open the tomb of Princess Ananka (Yvonne Furneaux), despite the warnings of a death curse which will fall upon desecrators. Three years later in England, a vengeful Egyptian man arrives and unleashes the living mummy Kharis (Christopher Lee) on the men. But the mummy's revenge is complicated when he discovers that Banning's wife Isobel is the spitting image of his beloved, long-dead Ananka.


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This film has the examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The film condenses the overarching plot of Universal's The Mummy's Hand, The Mummy's Tomb, and The Mummy's Ghost into one movie while removing some major plot holes from the originals.
  • Answer Cut: John, wondering who could want to hurt his father, says "As far as I know, he hasn't an enemy in the world." Cut to Mehemet Bey summoning the Mummy from the bog.
  • Axe Before Entering: Kharis crashes through doors to get his hands on Joseph Whemple.
  • Big Bad: Mehemet Bay, who is controlling Kharis.
  • Brownface: Christopher Lee playing an Egyptian in the flashback.
  • Buried Alive: When Kharis was caught trying to bring Ananka back to life after her death in the past, he was punished by getting wrapped in a shroud and being entombed alive to guard her in the afterlife.
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  • Compressed Adaptation: The film takes elements from all of Universal's Mummy movies and puts them in one package.
  • Conversation Cut: From the drunken hunter in the inspector's office, telling the inspector about seeing the mummy in the woods, smoothly transitioning to the drunken carter in the pub, telling the instructor about losing the crate that contained "Egyptian relics".
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: A kind of disturbing scene in which the body of Ananka is prepared for burial, with a nude Yvonne Furneaux's naughty bits carefully hidden either by extras or pieces of scenery.
  • Emergency Impersonation: Thanks to her resemblance to late Princess Ananka, John's wife Isobel stops Kharis from strangling her husband by making herself look even more like her (she lets her hair out).
  • Flashback:
    • A lengthy sequence set in Ancient Egypt explains how Anakara was killed and Kharis came to be mummified.
    • Another flashback fills in what we didn't see in the opening sequence, namely, Kharis coming out of his wall tomb and shocking Stephen into madness.
  • For Science!: John's justification when Mehemet Bay politely but accurately accuses him of desecrating sacred graves.
  • The Fundamentalist: Mehemet Bay is a fervent follower of the Karnak religion, and doesn't take it kindly when British archeologists dig up ancient Egyptian dead and put them in museum.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: John's father Steve is left a gibbering wreck from what he sees in the tomb of Ananka. He's sent to a nursing home.
  • Handicapped Badass: Banning has a bum leg but he doesn't hesitate to go after Kharis with guns, an arrow and his bare hands.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The hunter who just happens to see the mummy shambling through the woods races back to the nearest pub and demands whiskey. No one believes his story.
  • I Shall Taunt You: John Banning tricks Mehemet Bay to sic Kharis on him (and consequently, into his trap) by visiting him under a friendly neighbour guise (revealing himself to be still alive in the process), acting snooty and being dismissive about the Karnak religion.
  • The Lost Lenore: Princess Anakara to Kharis.
  • Mummy: He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.
  • Scenery Censor: Used very carefully in the flashback scene where Princess Ananka's body is prepared for mummification.
  • Time Skip: Three years from the opening sequence in 1895 to the rest of the story set in 1898, after Mehemet Bay has liberated Kharis from the tomb.
  • Tongue Trauma: Kharis's tongue was cut from his mouth before he was entombed alive in the past. This also explains why the mummy never makes any noises.
  • Villain Has a Point: Let's be honest, Mehemet Bey is exactly right when he accuses John of looting and desecrating graves and taking what he finds to the British Museum.
  • Zombie Gait: Averted; Kharis moves a lot faster than his Universal-era counterpart.

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