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The Mummy's Shroud (1967)
Ignore the bad reviews - this is a GREAT Mummy movie!
This is Hammer's bandage-wrapped version of THE TERMINATOR, with a British Hammer-sixties budget.And I'm prepared to bet that a pre-teen viewing of this movie (and others) was part of the cocktail that led horror movie fans/turned directors like James Cameron into making the bigger budget versions.(Right down to the new MUMMY movies).
There are horror movie/Mummy movie fans who have been disappointed with the movie. I'm the first to admit that there are certain problems with it - particularly that bloody long prologue, and the flashback high-school play Egyptian scenario.
But as a long-term fan, and anonymous supernatural/thriller author of international standing - let me tell you that I've argued this movie at length with an author of the same standing.
He hates it - I LOVE it.
Let me tell you why.
There's a RELENTLESNESS to the Mummy attacks in this picture that are truly scary. That blank, unemotional mask of a face just seems to make the violence - when it happens - utterly terrible. (The mask was based on a real Mummy, in the British Museum. All credit to the Costume Designer. I've been there, seen the Mummy. Same face. Visitors to the Museum - make your way to the Egyptian section. There it is, under glass.)
When The Mummy is summoned - Don Banks' superb music creates a real sense of anxiety when you see its shadow stalking the streets, on its way to the next victim. And when it attacks, we're treated to what I've always loved about Hammer: Full-on physical confrontations and fights. This is a NASTY Mummy!
Special mention to a sequence where it attacks a victim, knocks him to the ground and grabs a big jar of acid, deliberately crushing it over him - in the knowledge that it's own long dead and mummified hands won't be affected - and then it strides away UTTERLY unemotionally, leaving the guy writhing and screaming. Who then CATCHES FIRE, as it leaves.
Nasty, nasty, nasty.
A previous reviewer refers to the serious playing of the cast as a bonus, and I couldn't agree more.
And yes, Michael Ripper finally gets a chance after years of working for Hammer to finally register EMOTIONALLY as a character. Throughout, he's treated terribly by the John Phillips character, but puts up with it. When the Mummy appears to kill him, it's quite upsetting.
Yes, he was present when the tomb was opened, on his bosses instructions. But that's all. And - in his bedroom -when he kneals on and breaks his spectacles, reaching his lowest miserable ebb, the Mummy appears - killing him horribly for his 'transgression'.
There's a terrible SADNESS in that killing.
And lastly, the best part of the picture.
The final confrontation with the Mummy. A great hands-on fight in a Museum, with the hero brandishing an axe (hey, what's an axe in the neck to THIS mummy?)and the heroine desperately enancting the 'Words of Death' from The Mummy's Shroud - leading to a great SFX sequence of The Mummy crumbling to pieces
Wish there was a way I could make this review appear first in the listings. But hey, if you perservered - amd made your way down here - take my word for it. You won't be disappointed.
John Thaw - No Nonsense
I'm a bit fed up with all the obituaries about John Thaw, and how he's sorely missed because of his INSPECTOR MORSE stuff (and yeah, GOODBYE MR TOM is a wonderful piece)....
The latter veneration of his TV work seems to me to have obscured some of his astonishing work in other series and TV work.
REDCAP was my first exposure to John Thaw. A young, raw and angry actor - who my own Dad COMPLETELY identified with at the time of the series' showing. Dad was an ex-soldier, with no love of military policemen. But he used to let me stay up late to watch REDCAP, because he was so taken with Thaw's portrayal of a FAIR army cop. Angry, aware of what he had to do, aware of his subordination to senior officers (who often pulled rank in the episodes, despite the justice of the case) Thaw's performances were utterly compelling. I hope someone reads this review, has some clout - and could bring 'em out on video/DVD, whatever.
Last throwaway point to anyone wanting to follow-up John Thaw's acting power prior to the MORSE years.
Check out if you can, a British television production of MACBETH from the 60's/70's starring Eric Porter - which has John as the scariest Banquo's ghost you've ever seen.
35 Years Wasted - Thanks to the Censor
My following views only make sense, in the 'sense' that I'm a UK resident: Back in 1966, I took my little brother to a fleapit cinema to see a NEW movie with the come-on title THE NIGHT CRAWLERS. I was 14, he was 11 - and I was sneaking him in on a regular basis to catch up on horror movies.(That title was the UK title for NAVY VS NIGHT MONSTERS).
Every time something was about to happen, the film 'jumped' to the next scene. We came away deeply dissatisfied, believing that despite the obvious deficiencies of the movie, the stuff that had obviously been 'cut' must have been really, REALLY horrible. I should add that I was already a fan of the source novel: Murray Leinster's THE MONSTER FROM EARTH'S END. Call me 'picky' - but the point of the novel is that you don't know WHAT the hell is attacking the naval crew (Big shades of HP Lovecraft's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS).The movie poster tells you straight away- - so why bother with the mystery in the movie.
35 Years later, I purchased a copy of the uncut video.
So THAT'S what they cut: A crewman having an obviously false arm pulled off by a man-eating plant, and Bobby Van being pulled into a pantomine tree. (Hmmm - in retrospect, we might have really gone for that in 1966). P.S.) To a former reviewer, the pilot goes mad 'cause the plant squirts acid in his face.
The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)
Heart in the Right(Wrong?) Place
I completely agree with the first reviewer.
A little gem - co-written by Brian Clemens (who went on to create THE AVENGERS, THE PROFESSIONALS etc.)
A surprising 'sexuality' about the proceedings. Utterly passe now, but it must have been a little intense and 'naughty' at the time. The slow-burn attraction between Walsh and Adrienne Corri is quite good. And given that the Danzigers' track record for British B movies is not brilliant - this one certainly tries to deliver the goods. The murder scene, and the gore content, is quite graphic for its time. 1961, remember? (I suspect there would have been British censor trouble then, had the movie been filmed in colour).
Trivia: Co-star Dermot Walsh was married at the time to Hazel Court (of Hammer/Roger Corman movie fame.) Walsh then went on to star in the Danzigers' TV series: RICHARD THE LIONHEART. I can still sing the title song on request. Sad, eh? And how Dermot maintains that high quiff-hairstyle is an astonishment. Laurence Payne (who I've always liked and was co-star in THE TROLLENBERG TERROR/THE CRAWLING EYE),lost an eye in the early sixties during a fencing scene in his British TV series SEXTON BLAKE. Great casting for that part, I always thought. He was always good.)Bar tender Frank Thornton, who has two brief scenes, went on to great success as a comedy character actor in theatre, and British TV (eg ARE YOU BEING SERVED?)
The Hand (1960)
A forgotten movie - but with interesting details.
And yeah - lots of talk, and no action - which was the curse of British B movies of the time. But you've got to pay attention to the dialogue this time, or you won't work out what the motivation is. In other words, Ray Cooney's dialogue is a bit cleverer than the norm at the time.
Nasty shots (for 1961) - one severed hand (natch!)
Who's the murderer, then? Bloody Hell - Derek Bond has the lead role on the posters, and doesn't appear after the MEANINGFUL prologue until well into the movie.
Ray Cooney wrote the screenplay, and went on to script several extremely successful comedy/farce plays. This seems to have been his only foray into nasty stuff.He also appears in the movie. Several rewinds suggest that he's the main Cop's second hand( heh, heh!) man.(The credits aren't helpful)
I had to hunt this movie down after many years. Hard to find. Is it good? Well - all I can say is that, had I the chance to view it at the time, I may not have been disappointed. Very English, shoestring budget. Today?
It's an hour long, you've got to pay attention to throw-away dialogue - but it's much better than those Butcher Film movies that send you to sleep after 5 minutes and -
Amazing for 1960: Bad language! In the prologue, a character calls his WW2 captors "Dirty Bastards!" Believe me, STRONG stuff for the time.
BUT - this is NOT a lost classic. Tape it on late night TV if it ever shows, but don't pay what I did to give you this review.
La isla de la muerte (1967)
A Climax To Die For
The heroine in the clutches of a vampire tree, the hero leaping to her aid with an axe - slashing at blood-sucking branches with his weapon - then being attacked by the mad scientist who created the tree, also with an axe!
An axe battle between the two, under the writhing blood-sucking branches, in the middle of a rain-drenched thunderstorm. GREAT staging! What happens next is bloody (incredibly bloody, in fact), outrageous, melodramatic, over-the-top, and (dare I say?) EXCITING!
Now come on - isn't that last ten minutes worth the previous hour and 20 minutes of bad dubbing and odd characterisation?
And what the HELL is that old German woman gibbering on about?
Fans of Man-Eating Plants should check out the Mel Welles site.