Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vampirella (USA, 1996)

Back in 1982, Jim Wynorski entered the realm of low-budget Hollywood filmmaking when Roger Corman produced a script he had co-written with R. J. Robertson. The gore-heavy film, Forbidden World, one of the more outrageously entertaining Alien rip-offs ever, flickered across grindhouse screens that same year, grossing out enough people to fill Corman’s pocket with some extra change. Corman, always ready to take advantage of any new filmmaker willing to work cheaply, soon had Wynorski sitting in the director’s chair for a variety of low-budget productions, including one of Angie Dickenson’s most embarrassing projects, Big Bad Mama II (1987), and the abysmal remake of Not of this Earth (1988), Traci Lords’ unbearable first foray into non-porn film making (though she still did shake her attractively natural big floppers a lot in the film). In more than one interview Jim Wynorski has claimed that he loves working in the realm of low-budget film because he himself likes movies with lots of naked babes. (Often enough, it is the naked babesof which there are way too few in this direct-to-video turd—that are the best aspect of his films.) Indeed, according to Maitland McDonagh in Filmmaking on the Fringe, Wynorski is the “first to admit (that) he got into movies to make money and get laid.”
When it comes to Vampirella, one can’t help but feel that whatever money he made, he made too much, and that even if he didn’t fuck any of the women in the film, he sure did fuck up the film and fuck over the audience. For despite the supposed presence of Vampirella’s creator Forrest J. Ackerman as Associate Producer, this film presentation of one of the all-time classic characters of 1970s b&w pulp comic magazines does the character no justice, and is painful for anyone who remembers Vampi’s vintage years to watch. (As for the fans of the revamped 4-color comic Vampirella, they won’t find the flick any better.)
That said, it must also be admitted that Wynorski’s Vampirella is so unbelievably bad, so mind bogglingly pathetic, it could easily one day become a classic of Golden Turkey Cinema, along the lines of Robot Monster (1953) or Santa Clause Conquers the Martians (1964). Nothing works in this film: not the acting, the music, the costumes, the story, the special effects or the direction—maybe one can say that they at least managed to film Vampirella in focus, but since the movie is painful to watch in every other aspect, it really doesn’t matter. Hard to believe that scriptwriter Gary Gerani also penned the entertaining Pumpkinhead (1988), his only other script credit to date.
Vampirella starts long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, on the planet of Drakulon, where the blood imbibing New Age Drakolonians take their nourishment from the natural rivers of blood that flow freely on their planet. Vlad (Roger Daltrey), the leader of a cult that has reverted to drinking blood from the living, is to be sentenced for his crimes by the magistrates of Drakulon. Three of his followers help him escape and along the way they kill all the magistrates, including the Head Magistrate, the father of Ella (Talisa Soto). Against her father’s dying wish that she not seek revenge and with the help of her mother, Ella dons a cheap looking red plastic one-piece and follows Vlad’s spaceship to earth, taking a short 30,000 year detour to Mars when the cardboard control panel of her ship explodes and she crash lands on the fourth planet. (Amongst other reasons given, it has been said that the weird bastardization of Vampi’s original costume that Soto wears in the film was required because the actress couldn’t do any fight scenes without everything popping out. Seeing how little she actually has, that excuse seems doubtful. Considering how ridiculously stupid every outfit in the film looks, a more viable excuse for the impressively lame wardrobe is simply that costume designer Roxanne Miller got her job because of something other than talent.) Brought back to earth by John Landis and some other dork, she takes on the name Vampirella before killing one of the bad guys who killed her Daddy. Soon thereafter, she finds out that Vlad, now wearing an embarrassingly idiotic hairpiece, is a rock star named Johnny Blood. Going to one of his shows, Vampirella ignores Forrest J. Ackermann’s prancing in the background and sits through one truly abysmal rock song (performed by one washed up Roger Daltrey) before she hooks up with Blood, intent on revenge. But before she can do anything, Blood first beats her up as foreplay and then they both get busted by agents from Operation: Purge, a secret governmental agency out to destroy all vampires. Joining forces with Purge, Vampirella tries to get top agent Adam Van Helsing (Richard Joseph Paul) interested in exchanging some body fluids other than blood, but before she can convince him that her intentions are honorable, he gets kidnapped by two stacked blond vampires. (Either one, if they were brunettes, physically closer to the real Vampi than Soto is.) Eventually, just as Vlad and his world wide web of evil industrialist vampire cronies are about to put their big plan into action and bring eternal darkness to the planet, everyone ends up on Vlad’s coral somewhere in Nevada for the big showdown. Vampirella and Vlad fly off to the Hoover Dam for a laughable chase scene and a hilarious fight-to-the-end, during which Vampirella’s body size not only keeps changing but she develops a noticeable bulge in her crotch.....
Talisa Soto, a 1967 product of Brooklyn, has proven her inability to act with parts of varying importance in such films as License to Kill (1989), The Mambo Kings (1992) and Mortal Kombat (1995). Though she might still live up to People magazines (1990) opinion that she is one of “The Most Beautiful People In The World,” in Vampirella she is woefully miscast, lacking any and all the voluptuous excesses of the Vampirella we all know and love. Her obvious lack of pulchritude is only exceeded by her definite lack in acting talent, her inability to emote easily matching that of Roger Daltrey. Has that man no shame? Why didn’t he die before he got old so as to save himself from such an ignoble fate as to star in a film like this? While Daltrey’s thespian inabilities are easy enough to overlook in such visually over the top excesses as Kurt Russell’s film version of The Who’s rock opera Tommy (1975) or Russell’s even more unbelievably immoderate Lisztomania (1975), in Vampirella his obvious lack of talent is repulsively pathetic. As for Wynorski, whatever he got paid for doing this film, he got too much.
What a horrible film....if you must watch it, make sure you have a lot of beer and a lot of pot close by. Otherwise, your time is better spent on something more fun, like going down on the fat lady next door while she’s on the rag.

The Verdict (1946, USA)

The second Peter Lorre-Sidney Greenstreet film of that year, and the last of the total of ten they were teamed up in starting with The Maltese Falcon (1941). The Verdict is the third film version of Israel Zangwill’s novel The Big Bow Mystery, the others being The Crime Doctor (1934) and The Perfect Crime (1928). Perhaps the film’s most notable aspect in terms of film history is that The Verdict is one of the first feature-length movies directed by Don Siegel, after years of making montage sequences for other people’s films. Siegel, of course, went on to make such classics as (among many others) the original (and best) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Ronald Reagan’s last and best film The Killers (1964), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1969) and the legendary Dirty Harry (1971). And though The Verdict shows its B-film roots much more than Jean Negulesco’s bizarre Three Strangers (1946), it is still a very good film. (Arguably, the bare-boned rawness of how The Verdict is filmed in comparison to the fine polish of Three Strangers could possibly be attributed less to the budget than to the overall different styles of the two filmmakers, seeing how completely different the total ouvré of the two filmmakers are.)
A costume film, The Verdict takes place in the foggy city of Victorian London, around the time of Jack the Ripper. True, it is at first a bit of a shock to see Greenstreet & Lorre wandering around in a period setting, but one quickly gets used to it. The film opens with a visually pleasing tracking shot that slowly moves to a tower where we see a man ringing the bell that signifies the execution of some criminal and then moves on past him down to where Superintendent George Edward Grodman (Sydney Greenstreet) is leaving the police station just as a man he proved guilty is being hanged for murder. The next day it is revealed by Grodman’s co-worker and rival John R. Buckley (George Cloulouris) that the man hanged was actually innocent, which results in Grodman losing his job to Buckley. Soon thereafter, Arthur Kendall (Morton Lowry) a friend of Grodman and son of the woman whose murder the innocent man was hung for is found murdered in his locked room. The dislikable Buckley is convinced he’ll solve the crime in no time, but every turn he takes is the wrong one, so Grodman and his artist friend Victor Emmric (Peter Lorre) do their own investigating....
Featuring plot twists, excellent characterizations, dry humor and a truly unexpected ending, the acting in The Verdict is uniformly top notch. Greenstreet, who tended to simply walk through many of his films, manages to lend his character a bit more scope than normal, even if he remains oddly distant. Lorre first seems miscast as the fop artist Emmeric, a man as equally interested in women, wine and song as he is in finding out who killed his friend, but by the film’s end, he has more than made the part his own. Coulouris, whose long film career spans from Citizen Cane (1941) to Womaneater (1957) to Arabesque (1966) to Murder on the Orient Express (1974) is perfectly cast as the dislikable and conceited Buckley, a man who wanted Grodman’s job so badly that he let the innocent man hang on purpose. Joan Lorring, so oddly miscast in Three Strangers as Lorre’s frumpy love interest, is wonderfully appealing as Lottie Lawson, a good-time dancehall girl with an attractive figure who is briefly one of the main suspects. And if Rosalind Ivan is memorably entertaining in Three Strangers as the batty old widow, she is even more so in The Verdict as the hapless Mrs. Benson, landlady of the boarding house in which Kendall is killed and Emmric lives. Morton Lowry, best remembered as the evil John Stapleton in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), is not on the screen very long before his death, but in those brief moments, he shows enough aspects of his personality to make all that is later revealed about him believable. Lastly, B-movie regular Paul Cavanagh—whose career spanned forty years and whose face has graced projects as varied as Sherlock Holmes & The Scarlet Claw (1944), Bride of the Gorilla (1951) and Beat Generation (1959)—proves with his characterization of prime suspect Clive Russell that he was capable of acting much better than he normally tended to.
Considering how much everything seems to gel so well, from the acting down to the direction, one can’t help but wonder why The Verdict hasn’t been given greater acknowledgement as an interesting, worthwhile film—perhaps even a B-film classic. The Verdict may not feature the nonstop action of Don Siegel’s modern films, nor is it as multi-layered and adroitly made as his undisputed masterpiece Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but as one of Siegel's earliest films it more than shows that the man behind the camera had visual flare to spare. Next time The Verdict on the Late Show in your town, watch it—you won’t regret it.

The Blob (1988, USA)

A relatively low-budget remake of a really low-budget classic that obviously had enough of a budget to be able to hire some good special effects people.
The first question that comes to mind is “Why remake The Blob?” But, hey: Why not? While the filmmakers don’t really add anything new to the story—other than a few small details about the Blob’s origin and a lot more blood, goo and half-digested bodies—they do manage to do a decent job in making a watchable film that, if lacking the charm of the original, does keep the viewer entertained by the slime.
Like the original Blob, the action here takes place in small-town USA, complete with football jocks, cheer leaders, sheriff, local diner with a waitress with a heart of gold and canalization big enough for Los Angeles. Actually, it’s the over-exaggerated presentation of this small town idyll that brings the most humor to the film, as the stereotypes are so extreme that they can do or say nothing without it seeming like an ironic joke. (One hopes that it was done so on purpose.)
Matt Dillon’s younger, uglier and much less talented brother, Kevin Dillon, takes over the old Steve McQueen roll, and does badly at it. As Brian, a motorcycle-riding town bad boy and the eventual hero, he is not only completely dislikable, but isn’t even believable. In truth, though, aside from the guy who plays the sheriff, no one in this film can really be said to be acting anyway. Even Candy Clark, as the waitress with the heart of gold, has trouble delivering her lines with any conviction, up until she gets to scream her head off and be digested. But then, in these types of films, acting is never really that important. What is important are the special effects, and in that, The Blob, for the most part, does some top notch stuff.
The story ain’t much: the Blob crashes and begins to eat/digest, and whenever it slurps someone up, it gets bigger. Via air shafts and the sewer it slides about, eating everyone in its path. The government, in the form of a bunch of gun-toting dudes in anti-virus suits, eventually shows up and quarantines the town. They end up being more interested in killing Brian than in saving the town after he finds out that the Blob is actually a crash-landed governmental germ warfare experiment gone out of control. But, The Blob being a highly moralistic film, the Bad Guys eventually all get slimed and the leather-jacketed loser and the lead set o’ knockers save the day.
One of the best scenes is that of the digesting of a sleazy jock about to date rape his (he believes) passed out big-breasted cheerleader date; when he reaches for those soft, rounded love pillows, he gets more than the expected handful, as her face so nicely puckers into itself and the tits virtually attack him. Likewise, when Candy Clark bites the dust in a telephone booth while trying to call the sheriff for help, it is a bit of an unexpected shock to see the lawman’s half-digested face slide by as the Blob slowly slimes its way down the glass booth. The movie theater scene is also a big improvement from the original film from 1958, in which the supposedly terrorized film patrons can be seen laughing their heads off as they run. All in all, the best thing about this version of The Blob is that it is an unapologetic special effects blood and guts extravaganza which delivers some true gross outs, complete with an almost surprise ending. True, the big show down doesn’t completely cut the mustard, but there are some creative deaths along the way, and the film does keep one laughing. And the ending actually leaves a believably ironic opening for a sequel, though one has yet to come.
About the only really unexpected twist to this version of The Blob is the way the director Chuck Russell, who also cowrote the new version, constantly changes the audiences focus on any one character as the film’s male hero. While Shawnee Smith, who plays a babe with balls, is always without a doubt the lead jiggler, before Russell finally and regrettably focuses on Kevin Dillon’s Brian as the town’s co-savior, the viewer is led to believe that the lead pair of testis is actually to be a "likable" jock who eventually gets completely oozed at the hospital (again while calling the sheriff). Next, the sheriff himself is Mr. Sympatico, only to slime out of the scene soon thereafter. (Ah, if only the same could have happened to Kevin Dillon.....)
All in all, a true Saturday-night-light-the-joint-and-pass-the-beer video for the guys, guaranteed not to please the set of knockers you have at home.

Suture (1993, USA)

A beautifully made film that should have been absolutely interesting but is instead highly aggravating. In their drive to make a filmmaker’s film, the two directors ended up making an annoying mishmash of great and terrible ideas that seldom work; a visual and stylish mistake that could support the thesis that it takes more than talent to make a good film.
Shot in B&W Panavision, directors Scott McGehee & David Siegel take full advantage of the breadth and scope of the film stock to create enthralling compositions, track shots, slow pans and eye-catching visuals. Regrettably, the story itself, already old when film was first invented, has the depth, development and suspense of a second-rate TV movie, and the banality of the lines is amplified by some of the worst acting caught on film since the days of bad European Art House Film Acting ala Sam Neil and Isabella Adjiani in the entertainingly disgusting “serious” flick Possession (1981). Actually, one is never sure if the actors are really all just bad in Suture or if they were directed to “act” as if they are acting, but when considering some of the other “avant-garde” aspects that pop-up in Suture, one tends to put the blame on the directors. Probably the most ridiculous and jarring aspect of the film is the visual pun (and mistake) the directors make in terms of obviously playing with and referring to their use of black and white film. The two brothers, who are supposed to be identical, are played by an African American (i.e., black) and a Caucasian actor (i.e., white), who, naturally enough, don’t look a teeny-weenie diddle squat like each other. So, once again (yawn), the viewer is consistently reminded that, yes, they are watching a film—as if the illogical story, a mishmash of money, murder, amnesia, Freudian Hocus Pocus and identity didn’t make that obvious already.
The plot is mega-simple: rich and unscrupulous Vincent Towers, hounded by the police for the suspected murder of his dad, who he had indeed actually killed, uses the appearance of his long-lost brother Clay as a means of faking his own death via a car bomb. Clay survives the explosion but loses his memory, and the rest of the film has Clay, now believing he is Vincent, trying to rebuild his past, a past that actually was never his.... Of course, Vincent eventually shows up and BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
As with the acting, the story has such large flaws in it that one has to assume that they are on purpose to once again make the viewer realize that (yawn), yes, they are watching a film. Anyone out there ever hear of fingerprints? Excuse me, but if “Vincent” were “dead,” how would he ever expect to get to his money? And while Needles, Arizona is indeed Buttfuck, Egypt, could Clay/Vincent really walk around the town all day and not meet anyone at all who knew him back when he was simply Clay?
Like a cake that tastes bad because of too many good ingredients, Suture, for all its individuality and creativity, disappoints completely.

Vendetta/Morbidia/Zai shi zhui hun (1992, Hong Kong)

(Spoiler alert.) Director Tony Leung Siu Hung delivers one of those cheap, unknown Hong Kong films that you don’t regret buying providing you stumble upon it at some second-hand shop and only pay a buck or two for it. An odd hybrid of horror and police action film, Zai shi zhui hun would be a truly good film were it not for its unbelievably idiotic and out of place happy ending. Not half as glossy or clean as the type of Hong Kong sock-‘em chop-‘em one usually hears about, Morbida (aka Vendetta) is enjoyable in its own way. It ain’t much of a Hong Kong Kung Fu ballet in that the hand-to-hand combat is kept a minimum, but the violence is intense; and, but for the important shootout in which the two “evil ones” first get killed the violence is relatively realistic.
Zai shi zhui hun begins aboard a boat which three psycho siblings are being smuggled into Hong Kong. Arriving on mainland, they first blow away a complete stranger, his pregnant wife and young son so as to commandeer his car and soon after send a cop or two into early and total retirement. Next, these experienced (?) psychopathic criminals pull a bloody and laughably unprofessional robbery of a jewelry store and suddenly have half the police force of the island following their bloody trail of bodies. Ray Lui plays the cop called away from the bedside of his pregnant wife who finally nails the three, killing the two youngest psychos (twins) in the process. Returning to the hospital, he seemingly sees the smiling, bloody and very dead bank robbers constantly turning the next corner ahead of him. Forever a closed elevator door behind them, he chases them all the way to the delivery room of his wife, where she has just given birth to twins, both of which have a strange, bullet-hole shaped birthmark on their foreheads.... Swearing revenge for the death of his brother and sister, psychopath number three is jailed in some high-security jail where he manages to seriously injure more than one guard before he finally makes good his escape. In the meantime, the twins have grown into two obnoxious little brats who never call their father “papa” and seemingly are forever out to hurt or kill their daddy—or could it just be a series of coincidences and accidents? It doesn’t help that Daddy still occasionally sees the bloody dead psychos smiling at him from his children’s bed, or that the two kiddies start chanting “Brother! Brother!” when they unexpectedly see Psycho #3 drive by in a police wagon. In short order, Good Cop starts to crack, Bad Psycho escapes swearing revenge, mommy ends up unconscious in the hospital after the kiddies scare her down the stairs, Good Cop’s best friend gets butchered by Bad Psycho and, finally, there is a big show down between Good Cop and Bad Psycho in the cop’s booby-trapped house....
Predictable and derivative? Well, mostly. Violent? Yep. Scary? Yep again. Suspenseful, entertaining and fun? Sure. A good film? Well, almost. Regrettably, as mentioned before, the filmmakers lacked the balls to give the film the proper downbeat ending it calls for, relying on a truly insipid supernatural sequence at the Vendetta’s end in which, once Psycho #3 is finally really dead, Daddy’s love and his tears save his kiddies’ souls. Gag me with a spoon and poke that guys eyes out, please.

The Quiet Earth (New Zealand, 1985)

Geoff Murphy is hardly a director to surprise; his output over the past decades has simply been crappy (which might explain why he is primarily busy as a second unit director nowadays). Young Guns II (1990), Freejack (1992), Under Siege II (1995) and Fortress II (1999)—a nonstop series of bullshit, the type of movies that give cinema a bad name, that make a video hound feel like he's actually wasting his life by sitting in front of the television. That makes this film a rather pleasant surprise. Hardly an action film, The Quiet Earth veers more towards artsy-fartsy, as in slow and enigmatic and more interesting than exciting. Still, the modernized version of Ranald MacDogall's The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) does take a few risks and for the most part works, even if it confuses. Sure it's flawed, but it gets some good mileage. Based on a novel by Craig Harrison, the script was co-written by one of the three stars of the movie, Bruno Lawrence. Mostly unknown outside of New Zealand, Lawrence seems to have been part of every second flick made in New Zealand throughout the 80s. He died of lung cancer in 1995.
The Quiet Earth starts with Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) sprawled naked on a bed when a sudden kaleidoscopic light show goes through his head and wakes him up. Awakening from what seems to be one nasty hangover, we find out later that he had actually been trying to commit suicide and was waking up from an overdose of sleeping tablets. Stumbling back into the real world, he slowly begins to realize that the world is empty of all human and animal life (why there should still be plant life is a question never dealt with). Later, returning to the science lab where he had worked, he discovers the dead body of the experiment director and realizes and intones in his portable Dictaphone: "One: there has been a malfunction in Project Flashlight with devastating results. Two: it seems I am the only person left on earth." It seems that the powers that be were experimenting in harnessing an electrical wavelength that encircles the world and that when they threw the switch, either everyone in the world died or flew off to some unknown dimension. (One of the flaws in the story that one must ignore is that only people who were dying at the moment of the big bang remain on The Quiet Earth. Considering the statistic of how many people die every second, there would have to be hundreds more than the three the story involves. Likewise, many more dead bodies would be found than the few stumbled upon along the way.)
The first half of The Quiet Earth is an interesting study of a man slowly going bonkers due to oppressive solitude, slipping from playing the saxophone in the rain to running around a football field in a filthy slip to giving speeches to a yard full of cut out figurines and a tape queued to give applause at the proper moment. Once Joanne (Alison Routledge) and Api (Pete Smith) show up, however, the story becomes more traditional. In keeping with the earlier film that inspired this story, Joanne is lily white and Api is a Marui, but luckily the racial aspect is not of any real importance in this film. (This aspect is what ruins The World, the Flesh and the Devil, which attempts to be a liberal message movie but flounders in its own innate prejudices.) Instead, aside from the interpersonal problems that remain more in the background, the story focuses on Zac's discovery that the big bang that ended the world is due to happen again, and that maybe, if they destroy the station where he had worked, they might be able to break a link in the chain of energy and possibly either restore the world to like it was before or at least stop the complete destruction of the quiet earth as they now live it. Can they do so in time?
The ending of The Quiet Earth is probably the most argued aspect of the movie. If you have problems with the concept of inter-dimensional travel, the film ain't much for you in the first place. But if such normal sci-fi concepts don't bother you, the ending is still enigmatic and unexpected enough to throw many a viewer for a loop. Who survived? Who is dead? What is death? There are no easy answers given as the final credits role, only a close up of Zac's face, overwhelmed in both surprise and awe.

It's a shame that director Geoff Murphy never lived up to the career this film seemed to promise. Unlike the third-rate tripe he has made over the past decades, The Quiet Earth is at least interesting, unpredictable and trying to be something different. If you liked Freejack or The Fortress II (or The Fortress (1993), for that matter), steer clear. If you like more cerebral, obscure stuff like Zardoz (1974), you might give this film a try.

The Mummy (Great Britain, 1959)

As I mentioned in my review of Berlin Wie Es War, the magazine Cult Movies printed some reviews I had written and never lived up to their side of the deal, which was to send me a free copy of the issues my writings appeared in. The review below is a version of another review I know they (in my opinion) dishonorably and dishonestly printed.

After frightening the world with their artistically and financially successful color updates of the old horror staples Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer films rounded up the same core elements of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958) to do their version of yet another classic of Universal Pictures’ golden age of monsters, The Mummy. Terence Fisher returned to his seat behind the camera, and in a script cobbled together by Jimmy Sangster—who had also supplied the words for the first two Hammer remakes—Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee faced each other once again as the hero and monster. Based not, as commonly assumed, on the 1932 Karl Freund masterpiece The Mummy (starring Boris Karloff), the 1959 Hammer remake mined instead the slightly less artistically exceptional movies entitled The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy's Tomb (1942).
The plot, in short: Three English archaeologists discover and open the tomb of the Egyptian Princess Ananka (Yvonne Furneaux). Returning to England, they are followed by Mehemet (George Pastell), an Egyptian cultist who exacts revenge for the desecration of Ananka’s grave by having the mummy kill the “disbelievers” one by one. Peter Cushing’s character is saved only because his wife Isobel (Yvonne Furneaux) is (surprise!) a spitting image of Princess Ananka and can command the mummy to release him. There is a mandatory chase through the local bog before the mummy lets the little lady go and sinks to oblivion.
The Hammer version of the story did indeed fill the studio’s pockets with change, but time has revealed that though lightening often strikes twice, in the case of The Mummy, it did not strike thrice. Whereas age has in no way detracted from the stylish thrills and chill of Hammer's Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy seems to be little more than a tacky mistake. Cushing and Lee do their best at what they are given, but Cushing’s John Banning is a bore that really does deserve to die and Lee’s Mummy can’t seem to decide if he should amble slowly or charge like a bull. Likewise, not only are the Egyptian scenes laughably staged and unconvincingly cheesy, but the Technicolor makes the use of “Brown Face” on the various “Egyptians” embarrassingly obvious. (Brown face may also have been common in the B&W Universals, but in B&W it is a tad easier to overlook.) The script has holes big enough to see the Pyramid through, with characters saying and doing things that are better suited for a bad television film, such as when the “archaeologists” blow up the tomb or when Isobel Banning is taken outside into the bushes with Inspector Mulrooney "for her safety." True, the scene of Cushing inefficiently blowing holes through the mummy with a shotgun and then impaling the monster with a fire poker does have a certain thrill, but one good scene doesn’t make a good movie, especially when the movie is saddled with a variety of ill-conceived comic elements. Unbelievable that a script including two (!) flashbacks didn’t go in for a rewrite.
Though Hammer has produced many a modern classic horror film in their day, The Mummy is not one of them. Obviously, all those involved must have realized this, for not one of them (other than a few minor character actors) where involved with either of the two Hammer variations that followed later, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) and The Mummy’s Shroud (1967).