Review: The Mummy’s Shroud / Cert: PG / Director: John Gilling / Screenplay: John Gilling / Starring: Andre Morell, John Phillips, David Buck, Elizabeth Sellers, Maggie Kimberly, Michael Ripper, Tim Barrett, Roger Delgado / Date of release: October 22nd
Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet! The third entry in Hammer’s haphazard Mummy franchise - and the last of the classic Hammers filmed at the legendary Bray studios - was written and directed by John Gilling in 1967. The year before he had been responsible for both Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile and had demonstrated a surprising flair not only in working to Hammer’s notoriously thrifty budgets but also managing to breathe new life into tired, derivative, catchpenny material. But even Gilling had his work cut out with the Mummy, a series which basically had just one story to tell - long-dead mummified corpse is resurrected and goes on a killing spree, wiping out those who have defiled its tomb. The song remains the same here but Gilling populates his screenplay with a beefy ensemble cast all earnestly acting their socks off in resolutely B-Movie material and while the film offers up nothing new it generates a decent amount of tension and there’s some unusually graphic (even for Hammer) blood and guts.
We’re in 1920s Egypt (looks like a sandpit in Dorset to us) where a bunch of archaeologists are about to uncover the long-lost tomb of boy Pharaoh Kah-to-Bey. Barking Bedouin Hasmid (Delgado) warns them of terrible reprisals but they remove the corpse of the child, his shroud and the mummified body of his manservant Prem and put them on display in a Cairo Museum. Sure enough, before long the expedition members are being picked off one by one by a shambling silent killer and it’s left to Paul Preston (Buck), son of greedy expedition financer Stanley Preston (Phillips) to uncover the truth about the supernatural stalker prowling the backstreets of Cairo.
The Mummy’s Shroud is efficient 1960s schlock, powered by probably the best Hammer performance from genre legend Michael Ripper (outstanding in a beautifully-nuanced role full of genuine pathos as Preston Snr’s underdog servant Longbarrow) and memorable for some inventive death sequences - victims are variously strangled, doused in photographic acid and set on fire, wrapped in blankets and chucked out of a window. Ultimately Gilling’s best efforts are hamstrung by the limitations of the story and the film misses the presence of Hammer stalwarts Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (although it’s rumoured that Cushing provides the opening narration) but it’s never less than watchable and entertaining even if it’s undoubtedly second-tier Hammer horror.
Special Features: Decent ‘Making of’ featuring contributions from Hammer historians, a touching tribute to late actor David Buck from his widow, Hammer legend Madeline Smith, trailers, photo gallery.