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Film / The Mummy (1959)

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"He who robs the graves of Egypt, dies."

The first Hammer Horror film to feature, yes, a Mummy, released in 1959 and reuniting the director (Terence Fisher) and the stars (Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee) of the studio's previous hits The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula.

In 1895 Egypt, a team of British archeologists led by John Banning (Cushing) opens the tomb of Princess Ananka (Yvonne Furneaux), despite warnings of a death curse which will fall upon any desecrators. Three years later in England, a vengeful Egyptian man arrives and unleashes the living mummy Kharis (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.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Isobel. She proves this not once, but TWICE even though she never gets physical when saving John from Kharis despite the former specifically telling her to lock herself in her room for her own safety prior to the first attack, and to stay outside with Inspector Mulrooney during the second, although she ends up fainting and being carried away by Kharis.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Although intended as a remake of The Mummy (1932), the plot and most of its principle characters are taken from The Mummy's Hand and The Mummy's Tomb. The 1932 movie's famous and early scene of the sight of the mummy walking across the tomb floor driving a member of the archaeological team insane is re-created here, but not seen in any of the 1940s movies. The finale of The Mummy's Ghost is also interpolated into this movie, albeit with a somewhat different outcome. Despite all this, there is no credit to any pre-existing source material at all.
  • 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. It also incorporates several elements from the original Universal The Mummy (1932)
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the original Universal film, the Mummy was the Big Bad and a gifted sorcerer who was able to mask his true nature as an undead in order to pose as a modern Egyptian scholar. Here, he's The Dragon to Mehemet and is little more than Dumb Muscle. Even Kharis is considerably less durable here, in comparison with his original portrayal in Universal Horror, where neither, bullets and even fire or swamps can't really harm him.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Karnak was not an Egyptian deity. It's the name of a temple complex near Thebes.
  • 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.
  • Composite Character: The Mummy in this movie is a version of Kharis, and he took the strength, backstory and being The Dragon to the priests from Karnak. But he is a High Priest here, as Imhotep in The Mummy (1932). In the Universal Horror version, Kharis was a Prince from the Royal House.
  • 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".
  • Curse of the Pharaoh: Similar to the 1932 version except that an egyptian warns the explorers to not enter the tomb at all and the Mummy (named Kharis in this version) is specifically focused on killing the people who entered his dead lover's tomb.
  • 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).
  • Evil Poacher: Averted, he's portrayed as more of a comical figure hunting to eat.
  • 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.
  • Identical Stranger: Isobel bears a striking resemblance to the long-dead Princess Anakara. This comes in handy later.
  • 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.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Kharis loved Princess Anakara very much in life. Isobel, whom bears an uncanny resemblance to her, is able to disarm and stop Kharis through Emergency Impersonation.
  • Mummy: He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.
  • Plucky Girl: Isobel. She manages to save her husband from Kharis not once, but twice just by her mere presence, and quick thinking.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Inspector Mulrooney is understandably skeptical about the idea of a curse but keeps an open mind during his investigation, talks to all of the right people, is willing to acknowledge when his findings make a curse seem likely and plots guards to protect John and Isobel.
  • 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 Ball: Mehemet tries to kill Isobel (who resembles Anakara) himself in front of Kharis. It doesn't bode well for him.
  • 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.
  • You Killed My Father: John resents Mehmet and Kharis due to their previous victims being his father and uncle.
  • Zombie Gait: Averted; Kharis moves a lot faster than his Universal-era counterpart.