Curse of the Faceless Man (1958) The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
Am I cursed? Anything’s possible I suppose but I certainly hope not. If I am than surely it’s in watching far too many movies which in truth is a curse I can live with.
Until the recent Kino Lorber release of this obscure title on blu ray, it was for me just another fifties flick I had seen images of in Famous Monsters magazines growing up and perhaps a glossy or two in some coffee table book on the horror film. At a length of 67 minutes, I didn’t have to invest much time in seeing Richard Anderson face off against a Kharis The Mummy wannabe by way of director Edward L. Cahn. Cahn was on a roll about this time giving us It! The Terror From Beyond Space, Invasion of the Saucer Men and in another year would bring us Invisible Invaders and The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake.
This is a mixture made on the cheap. A mixture of the Kharis films from the forties that featured Lon Chaney and by extension, The Creature From the Black Lagoon and I’m sure various others that we could easily connect. The Faceless Man is made of stone as opposed to wrapped in bandages. While archaeologists are digging up ancient Pompeii, a fully preserved man of stone is uncovered along with a box of jewels and an all important medallion. Thankfully (not) we have the all knowing tones of a narrator to bring us up to date on the history of the Pompeii explosion for the uninformed.
Richard Anderson whom many might recognize from his featured role on The Six Million Dollar Man stars here as a young archaeologist who along with a few other men of science will attempt to prove that the people who die mysteriously while in the company of the petrified man have indeed been killed by the stiff, centuries old figure. But how?
Would you be surprised to hear that Anderson’s lady friend, Elaine Edwards, somehow finds herself telepathically linked to the hulking stone man? Not if you’ve ever seen anyone of the previous Mummy films from Universal. Might she be a reincarnated princess from the doomed island of Pompeii? Sure it’s all a lot of hokum but I never for one never tire of these drive in features. As for the ending, I kind of thought a bazooka might come in handy. Shatter this stone guy into a million pieces. Thankfully the script came up with a better idea once they ran out of victims to toss his way.
By the time this was ready for release after what was apparently a six day shoot (and it shows), it was released on a double bill with Cahn’s other more well known sci-fi flick, It! The Terror From Beyond Space. You know, the film that seems to have surely been the template for Scott’s Alien.
Will I ever watch this Vogue Picture release again? Maybe but will I ever watch The Curse of The Mummy’s Tomb again? Of course. It’s a Hammer film!
While not as well known as the studio’s classic 1959 effort that teamed Cushing and Lee as adversaries, this Michael Carreras effort is quite enjoyable and features that Hammer touch, bringing this color production in a notch or two above the competitors in the horror pics of the day with more than a few wonderfully captured sequences in the fog shrouded alleys and sewers of London.
It’s Egypt of 1900 and a new tomb has been found or if you prefer, desecrated. A word I rarely hear used in my everyday life but one that is thrown about freely in any script that deals with the Mummies of Ancient Egypt. An expedition led by Ronald Howard and Jack Gwillim locate the tomb while a P.T. Barnum type played by the always welcome Fred Clark has funded the dig and fully intends to exploit the find with a world wide tour. This is of course a sacrilege in the eyes of an Egyptian curator played by George Pastell. If Pastell looks familiar, he should. He played the keeper of Kharis in the 59 film and will serve as a major red herring here when a medallion with an ancient inscription on it is stolen. Inscribed upon it are the sacred words that will breathe life into our Mummy.
Attractive Jeanne Roland is our featured love interest. While she appears to be headed towards a marriage with archaeologist Howard, she will come into contact with a smooth and wealthy Terence Morgan. Morgan seems very anxious to tag along with the group that has uncovered the riches of ancient Egypt and it won’t take much thinking on our part as the viewer to see that he has more than just beautiful Roland on his mind.
Reinventing some flashback footage from the 59 film minus Christopher Lee, a story will be told of two brothers in ancient Egypt. One will have the other killed and mummified. The surviving brother will be cursed for all eternity awaiting a death which can only be dealt by the hand of his mummified brother. I think you can easily connect the dots from here. If I could rewrite the script, I’d let us all in on the brother’s plight from the outset. Like a Hitchcock plot, I think it might play better if we know all along.
This Hammer flick which once again employs make up effects from Roy Ashton has some great sequences along the way. Even if a couple of them quickly remind you of the sequence where Cushing battles Lee in his study from the earlier film. It’s the sound effects that stand out here upon reflection. The solid thud of a mantel piece as it connects repeatedly with a victims skull. More so I like the tunnel like breathing from The Mummy. It’s heavy and labored. There’s also a solidly filmed scene that will see one of our featured players meeting both the Mummy and his demise in a fog shrouded staircase in the backdrop of London.
I guess by this time, Lee wasn’t up for donning the strips of cloth once again so the part of Ra-Antef is played by Dickie Owen. While George Pastell is equally effective here as he was in the 59 film, one should try to locate a copy of The Stranglers of Bombay. Another little gem he appeared in for Hammer. To see Fred Clark in a Hammer film seems rather odd but as the script calls for a Barnum like character from America, Clark is a perfect fit and his character even references the famed showman. Did you spot Hammer regular Michael Ripper in here?
A fun bit of horror Hammer style, Curse is readily available on both DVD and recently on blu ray here as a double feature release from Mill Creek.