Old school monsters rule the day when writer/actor Paul Naschy turns the clock back to deliver this nostalgic Mummy film in the tradition of those that came before it.
Under his real name, Jacinto Molina, Naschy delivers a screenplay with a firm nod towards the Universal films with Karloff and Chaney and the Hammer Films that followed. He begins this Carlos Aured directed film with a prologue where Naschy himself is the sadistic Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who takes his pleasures along with his love, Rita Ottolina, by torturing and murdering beautiful young virgins. ….. ** It’s in the horror movie handguide book.**
A coup is in motion when a High Priestess has Naschy poisoned leaving him alive but immobile while his lady love is butchered by the swords of guards. Next up is the mummification scene where Naschy is wrapped and entombed but not before a voice over where he swears he will return and be reunited with his evil mistress.
It’s at this point there’s an ingenious cut to present day. The passage of time is centered around Naschy’s sarcophagus as dust, discoloration and darkness descends when suddenly a pickaxe puts a hole in the wall and Jack Taylor’s archaeologist peers into the tomb with his lamp.
Taylor and his own lady love, Maria Silva, are in the employ of the London Museum and more specifically Sir Douglas Carter played by Eduardo Calvo. Along with Naschy’s sarcophagus, they return to England with a papyrus holding the key to the story of “The Cursed Pharaoh.”
In a plot point akin to the Karloff classic, Naschy, will appear in modern England as Assad Bey, (thus playing dual roles) as a character very much like the ones played by Turhan Bey, John Carradine and George Zucco in the Chaney/Kharis flicks of the 1940’s. Like the ancient Pharaoh, he too has an evil mistress enacted by cult favorite Helga Line. She of films that include Horror Express, The Loreley’s Grasp, The Vampire’s Night Orgy and Horror Rises From the Tomb, again with Naschy.
Naschy and Miss Helga have journeyed from Egypt to befriend Taylor and company and as we all know, bring evil deeds to the desecrators of the tomb belonging to Amenhotep. To do so they’ll bring the Mummy to life and ….. wait for it ….. drain the blood of attractive young virgins.
No sooner does the Mummy arise and he’s crushing the skull of the museum’s night watchmen with his bare dusty hands. Unlike the Kharis flicks from Universal and Hammer, the Mummy is clearly in charge and gives the orders to his disciples, Naschy and Helga.
Let’s not get confused here. Naschy is playing both roles. He’s the bulky Mummy under the bandages with a spring in his step AND the modern day disciple taking orders from his bandaged Pharaoh. So for the remainder of the film from here on to the fadeout, they don’t appear on screen together very often and when they do there’s an obvious double stepping in.
Now that the man with the musty bandages is up and terrorizing London including murdering two coppers in the sewer systems, it’s time to find a suitable host for the spirit of his long lost love Rita Ottolina. Fortunately for Naschy’s Amenhotep, the actress has also been cast in dual roles. She’s doing double duty playing the daughter of Sir Douglas, one who has Egyptian heritage via her deceased Mother. She’s caught the crusty eye of a suitor that she’ll wish she hadn’t before all is said and done.
Now while all this is going on, Taylor, in fine Peter Cushing fashion is sure that the modern day Naschy is behind the disappearance of his archaeological find and sets out to prove it. Like Cushing he’ll get more than he bargained for when he learns that the Mummy really has returned to life as the ancient scrolls had foretold.
I won’t divulge much more of this and though it might be somewhat of a paint by numbers redo of the Universal Kharis flicks, it’s enjoyable as all heck if you’re a fan of those musty old black and white “B” flicks that featured the amazing wizardry of Jack Pierce’s make-up design. Full marks go to Miguel Sese Guillot for his work with Naschy’s Mummy design. Damned sight better than what Hammer gave us in their final go around, The Mummy’s Shroud in 1967.
There’s some great camera work here from director, Aured, in both the prologue and throughout the proceedings that include the sewer venture, a poor virgin working her way through a foggy park at night and even another young gal on her wedding night about to lose her virtue.
Utilizing Big Ben and London Bridge in the backdrop for effect, the film was indeed made in England giving it a step up on some of the competition of lower tier monster movies and I also liked the fact that the script keeps it as a period piece and not a modern day London setting but rather an early 20th Century story keeping it in line with the real life Howard Carter discovery of Tutankhamun.
There are a number of connections to be made behind the scenes but I’ll stick to the collaborations of the director and star. Before Aured ascended to the director’s chair, he was the A.D. on 1971’s Werewolf Shadow starring Naschy. As director they would work together on Naschy’s popular 1973 thriller Horror Rises From the Tomb followed by one of Naschy’s better Waldemar Daninsky werewolf flicks, Curse of the Devil. Next up was 1974’s grotesque Blue Eyes of a Broken Doll which then led to this their final teaming, The Mummy’s Revenge clearly titled The Vengeance of the Mummy in the Spanish print.
Another quick point on the release date. All depends on who we put our trust in I suppose. I’ve listed the release years based on the IMDB, right or wrong. The new blu ray of The Mummy’s Revenge from Scorpion which is a welcome addition to my movie room lists the film as a 1973 release as do the liner notes from historian Mirek Lipinski. Not uncommon I suppose with plenty of these genre Euro releases working their way to North America and around the world for different release dates. Sometimes under numerous titles depending on the country of it’s release.
End result is it’s taken me years to finally see this film and did I like it? Well I’ve already recommended it to my sons, Kirk and Ethan, as a nostalgic, fun throwback to the earlier Mummy flicks that came before it so I guess the answer is a firm YES.