The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
In our continuing series of articles 'The bloke down the pub' will tell us all about his favourite Hammer Horror films. In his ninth weekly review he's wondering why anyone would let the script for The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, from 1964, get made in the first place! Probably nepotism... Enjoy!
What happens if you let the son of the boss make a movie? And I mean write, direct and produce his own movie? You get Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, that’s what you get. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an obvious example of an entitled idiot with no discernible talent being allowed to make an entire movie. That’s actually not completely fair, he does possess one talent - the talent of a producer to get a film made. At this he may be some sort of effing savant, because I can’t believe anyone saw the script and felt like parting with anything except strong advice to give up writing forever, let alone hard bloody cash.
But here it is anyway, presumably because enough chaps down the club dug their hands in their pockets, or because he found a few spare tiaras that had dropped down the back of the sofa.
Because we are talking about an epically bad film. Not nice bad, not fun bad, not charming bad, not funny bad - boringly bad, blandly bad, objectionably bad. You want an example? How about a film who has their charming leading man beating a native (inside five minutes!) for being disrespectful to his fiancee’s dad by dropping the stretcher he was carrying by accident. Possibly because he’s walked for miles through the desert carrying a dead white bloke, presumably hoping for a crust of bread in gratitude. But not from this film’s hero! Nope, sorry mate - he’s a bit upset you know, I’m sure you understand. Now run along, before I beat you some more. The movie’s treatment of all poor people is so offensively ridiculous that it’s only after a while that you realise that it’s because you’re watching a rich, entitled idiot’s idea of what poor people are. They’re always hanging around trying to get change off gentlemen for holding their coats - even if they’re paid labour putting together an exhibition at a museum - which they’ll then promptly gamble away because, well, that’s what they do, peasants, don’t they? Or the poor landlords of a cheap hotel who quarrel and bicker and make a chap’s life difficult by not letting him stroll into some stupid foreigner’s room, which he absolutely must search, but, not to worry, just throw the crone a few pennies and watch her and her idiotic husband argue about who gets the measly coins while casually hitting their child. Or servants who can’t wait to listen at keyholes not because they discover anything, not because anything strange is going on, not because it’s going to move the plot along - nope! They listen at the keyhole because that’s what servants do doncherknow, can’t trust the blighters! Every poor man says ‘guv’ over and over again, and even the prostitute says ‘dearie’. That’s the extent of the characterization here.
And the women! Or should I say, the woman. A woman who is extremely excited about having packed up the Egyptian artifacts in good order and excellent time a WEEK after her father’s been murdered! Which, by the way, is never mentioned again. She certainly never gets upset about it. She’s too busy wandering around finding all the men terribly funny and interesting, while making sure she is always looking good - we’re talking about a woman who spends a few minutes checking herself out in a mirror to make sure she looks good enough to lie down and go to sleep. This is the fantasy of an idiot. At one point, she even utters the following sentence: “He doesn’t understand me, he wants me to continue with my career. Not like you!” And God, the jokes - the painful, painful jokes. Seldom has it been more obvious that this script was written by a man used to having his every weak gag guffawed at by a table full of toadies and lackeys.
The whole film might as well have been one evening with the director down at his club as he cracks his terrible jokes, gives his friends advice on how you should really treat poor people, and his firm belief in old-fashioned values when it comes to women and marriage (so unbelievably old-fashioned that one character who turns out to be several thousand years old is held up as knowing what women really need).
At least that would have been easier to sit through, because as well as the naked revealing of his vacuous soul, you also have to slog your way through an abysmal movie. A movie where a stuffed owl falling out of a cupboard is supposed to be scary, a movie where NO-ONE runs away from a murderous mummy lumbering towards them, a movie where an off-screen ‘awk!’ on a crowded cruise ship elicits ‘That’s Sir Giles!’ from the leading man (who everybody keeps calling ‘young’ despite pretty obviously being 50 - the age, I’m guessing, of the director), a movie where one character refers to archaeology as ‘the arts’, a movie where everyone’s principle objection to the removing of the artifacts is not that they’re being ripped from a tomb but because they’re in the hands of a vulgar American who wants to show them to poor people everywhere in some sort of tawdry ‘show’ (hey, movie - take a look in the effing mirror), a movie where ten policemen just stand around gawping while the one genuine foreign actor (recycled from ‘The Mummy’) gets his head crushed very slowly by the Mummy’s foot, a movie where ‘and yet’ begins two sentences in a row and a movie where absolutely every single character is an awful person.
I could go on about this waste of everyone’s time, this absurd vanity project entirely conceived by a spoilt dullard who you wouldn’t spend more than five minutes with at a party if you happened to be unlucky enough to be cornered by the braying oaf, but honestly I’m getting a bit riled up. When I think of the Hammer film that could have been made with that time and that money… it’s enough to drive you to drink. Speaking of which…