Review Date: September 24, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 8/28/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Hammer Films revolutionized the horror film in the 1960s. They added bright dripping red blood and voluptuous scantily clad women to the Gothic horror film genre. But as the as the 60s closed, horror fans turned to contemporary scare-fests like Rosemary's Baby
and Night of the Living Dead
. The Gothic period films were dead (though the cleavage and blood were still popular). Hammer went with the flow, but it was never quite the same. A great example of the style Hammer adapted to was 1971's Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
. It's got touches of that great Hammer atmosphere, but it's certainly not the best movie the great British studio produced, partially because the Hammer style didn't translate to the new era as well. Still, it's worth a look.
Based on Bram Stoker's novel Jewel of the Seven Stars, Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
begins with an Egyptian ritual, with some priests removing the right hand of the voluptuous Tera (Valerie Leon). The disembodied hand still manages to kill the priests however.
Or was this all just a dream of Margaret Fuchs (also played by Leon)? Well, no matter, it's her birthday, and her archaeologist father (Andrew Keir) gives her a ring from one of his digs. Margaret and her boyfriend Tod Browning (Mark Edwards) have the ring appraised at a local museum, but the sight of the ring causes the museum's curator to faint.
We find out (through flashbacks) that Professor Fuchs and his colleagues violated the tomb of Tera, and at the same time, Margaret was born. Professor Fuchs now has Tera's body (which hasn't aged a day in several thousand years) in his basement. Corbeck (James Villiers), one of the archaeologists who discovered Tera's tomb wants to reunite Tera with her soul, which involves re-aquiring all the relics from the tomb. Is Margaret the reincarnation of the Egyptian priestess? And what happens when all the relics are brought together? Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
will solve all of these questions and more. Maybe.
This was actually a difficult film to review. I disliked it intensely upon first viewing (more on that later), but I re-watched it, and found it much more enjoyable the second time around. Now, I'm not a big fan of mummy films, but that's not a problem in this movie, since there really isn't a mummy! (Not a first for Hammer; Brides of Dracula has neither brides nor Dracula). I guess Tera is supposed to be a mummy, but like I mentioned, she hasn't aged a bit. Which is OK, since Valerie Leon has a fantastic body, and any reason to show it off is fine by me. And maybe this is an attempt to bring the mummy character into the modern film world. Viewers may have been bored with decayed Pharaohs with rotting bandages, so Hammer gets points for revising the popular conception of mummies (I'll admit I've never read Stoker's book however).
Updated mummy movie myths aside, Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
is a good film, but not a great one (at least upon first viewing). It crawls along at a snail's pace for much of the first hour. The plot is rather nonsensical as well (though it's a bit more clear upon subsequent viewings). We're introduced to a bunch of unrelated characters, and it's a long time before we find out that they were Fuchs' colleagues. I really found the opening 30 minutes exceptionally confusing, and there are some major continuity problems. It's hard to tell where the story is focussed, and the flashback sequence is not spelled out properly (I.E., it takes you a while to realize it's a flashback, and that the archaeological team are the characters we've met).
I was a little disappointed with the 70s feel in a Hammer film. Hammer was really between a rock and a hard place at the time this was made. There was no longer a market for their period pieces, but their overly talky style didn't translate well into contemporary films. In Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
, they're trying to add that late 60s swinging London feel (check out the Austin Powers lookalike in the museum!), which only serves to totally date the film. The early Hammer films, which took place in dark forbidding castles, are simply timeless.
Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
is not Hammer's best film, but it's still pretty fun. It definitely requires repeated viewing, mostly due to the continuity problems in the opening half of the movie. Like I said, I disliked this film quite a bit when I first saw it. I had to re-watch it in order to adequately describe the plot, and on this second viewing, it made a lot more sense. I wish this was due to the film's depth, but again, it's just a product of poor storytelling.
I really hate to give any negatives on any release of a Hammer film, which is one reason I gave this movie a second chance. There are still a ton of Hammer movies that have yet to be released on DVD, and a lot of fans won't be happy until every single film the great British studio released is available. I'm not quite that rabid, but there are a lot of Hammer films I'd still like to see released, so just keep 'em coming!
Anchor Bay has produced Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
, and that's all some people will need to know. It's anamorphic widescreen, and well done as usual. The colors are a bit soft, but the early 70s weren't a particularly colorful period. It doesn't have the lush colors of the 60s Hammer movies, but again, here's a studio moving with the times. The image is crisp and detailed, though some scenes seem slightly hazy. Perhaps it's an attempt to create a "foggy" atmosphere, I don't know. So while it's missing the gorgeous photography of the previous decade's movies, it's still a great movie to look at.
The soundtrack is a 2 channel mono, to be expected from a film of this era. But it's clear and well balanced. Music is way in the background most of the time, which is fine since it's one of the less interesting scores in a Hammer film. It gets a bit shrill later in the film, but it's not bad. Basically, it gets the job done, no more no less.
Anchor Bay was slightly sparse on the extras, well, at least for Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
. There's a short interview with Valerie Leon, and writer Christopher Wicking. They tell of several of the difficulties of the film (Director Seth Holt died during filming). After that are the standard TV and radio spots, and a stills gallery.
The real gem amongst the extras is a second disc, consisting solely of 20 Hammer trailers. It's worth picking up this release for the trailers alone! Perhaps the only thing negative one could say about the trailers disc is that for every trailer they include, there's 5 more you want but aren't on the disc. Still, I love these trailers, and it's great to have them all one one DVD.
Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
is far from my favorite Hammer film, but Hammer completists will love this one. It might not be the best introduction for those unfamiliar with the classic studio, I'd suggest some of the more famous Lee/Cushing Dracula films. But Anchor Bay is to be commended for releasing ANY Hammer film, especially with the quality job they do. I'm still holding out for Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
and the classic Horror of Dracula
, and this release only makes me want those films even more. And you just have to love the trailer disc. Great work on a lesser film, just what we've come to expect from Anchor Bay.
Movie - C+
Image Quality - B
Sound - B-
Supplements - B+
- Running time - 1 hour 33 minutes
- Rated PG
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Surround
- Dolby Digital Mono
- Interviews with star Valerie Leon and writer Christopher Wicking
- TV Spot
- Radio Spots
- Stills Gallery
- Bonus Disc: Hammer Trailer Collection