The masters of Hammer's Vault of Horror are at it again...
Patrick Selitrenny | Switzerland a.k.a. Helvetia Felix | 07/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Throughout the years Hammer Films meant quality horror pictures.Spanning more than a decade these tiny jewels had true gothic flair.Made on very tight budgets and at lightning speeds they swiftly outran equivalent products from Hollywood.Who has forgotten Christopher Lee's Dracula or Peter Cushing's Baron Frankenstein?The glory came to Hammer when in the late fifties, they produced the remakes of "The Mummy", "Frankenstein" (as "Curse of Frankenstein") and "Dracula" (as "Horror of Dracula").In the years that followed a number of sequels of these remakes followed, starting with the Frankenstein series and followed by the Dracula series. They all were more or less good or successful but gained a horde of loyal fans and this fact alone made the fortune of Hammer Films.The Mummy instead, a bit like the title role, limped slowly behind. The first one was a lavish remake of Boris Karloff's version. The ones which followed were decaying with the mummy.Starting with "Curse of the Mummy's Tomb" (1964) which was more a parody than anything else, through "The Mummy's Shroud" (1967) which was a poor attempt at combining the Fantasy genre (witches and curses in fairytales) to the Horror of the Mummy, to a last, and may I say, better attempt which is the one I am reviewing now: "Blood from the Mummy's Tomb" (1972).Strangely enough, this one was released at a time when Hammer was already on the way to its decline (see the flops with "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" (1973) and "The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" (1974)).As many other reviewers stated, this one was very loosely adapted from a Bram Stoker's short Novel. It seems to have worked, also because the Mummy is for once a woman, not a man, but can be as deadly if not more lethal than a man.The acting is always discreet and well balanced.The strange thing with Hammer movies is that they always included the best the British stage world had to offer. Besides the names already mentioned, you had Geoffrey Keen, Ralph Bates, Andre Morell, Martine Beswick, Thorley Walters, Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen among others.They all made fantastic careers afterwards or revived their images courtesy of Hammer.If you are a Hammer Horror fan this movie is a must. If you're new to Hammer I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the very first ones and move on from there.In any case it's always a pleasure to watch them. Their gothic flair, being gory to a point but always with taste and never hitting you with cheap thrills but rather building a momentum to the point you can't stand the tension anymore and then swiftly changing mood to alleviate your nerve tingling, are all points in favor of the Hammer Saga of Success.There are just two choices for Horror/Fantasy movies of the sixties: Hammer Films or Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe's adaptations, starring the late, but highly talented Vincent PriceI only hope we could get back to that freshness and yes, the naivete', that was the Hammer/Corman style."
Hammer ups the ante in delivering the chills
BD Ashley | Otago, New Zealand | 04/13/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This classic Hammer horror, based on Bram Stoker's novel "Jewel Of Seven Stars" is perhaps most famous for the deaths of director Seth Holt and the wife of Peter Cushing, the movie's original lead- which inevitably led to reports of a curse on the production. Strangely this is R18 in NZ/Australia despite being PG in the US. BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB is pretty gory for its time, maybe Hammer studios felt Herschell Gordon Lewis had been stealing some of their thunder so they countered this with classier, big budget bloodletting.
The plot revolves around archeologist Dr. Fuchs (Andrew Keir) who steals a ring of the Seven Stars from an Egyptian tomb. The only problem is it belonged to a Queen, and whoever wears the ring can bring death upon unsuspecting persons by gorily slashing their throats. Fuchs gives the ring to his sexy daughter Margaret (Valerie Leon) as a gift. Unfortunately, the ring causes her to have nightmares; one of which features Queen Tera's severed hand being mauled by dogs; but still crawling along by itself with the precious ring still attached! Ironically, Margaret also has a scar encircling her wrist. Coincidence? Or could she be the reincarnation of Queen Tera?
BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB is one of the best and obviously most notorious of Hammer's horror pictures. There's some great camera work, especially in the classic scene where an old geezer in a mental hospital is menaced by demonic forces. Valerie Leon's voluptuous breasts give two mesmirising supporting performances. She just oozes sex appeal. Followed by a feeble remake in 1980, THE AWAKENING starring Charlton Heston and Stephanie Zimbalist from TV's REMINGTON STEELE. Watch this instead. You''ll find it much more rewarding."
Who - - Or What - - Must Not Be Named
Found Highways | Las Vegas | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The bosomy young woman Margaret wakes up screaming from a nightmare. Her father Julian comes into her bedroom to comfort her. A scar across Margaret's right wrist makes it look like she has tried to slash it in the past. What could have driven this young woman, who lives alone with her father, to try to kill herself?
Julian gives Margaret a ring with seven stars in the shape of the Big Dipper reflected in it and makes her wear it "for protection." (This movie is based on Bram Stoker's novel Jewel of the Seven Stars and is better than the book.) Margaret and her father hold each other for just a little too long, and Julian looks just a little too longingly into Margaret's eyes.
Wearing the ring, Margaret belongs to her father in a way she hasn't until now. But this relationship must be doomed.
I've read that victims of incest sometimes feel like it's happening to someone else. Margaret really is someone else - - Tera, the uncorrupted beauty Julian stole from Egypt and now keeps hidden in his basement, the woman he sneaks away to look at every night, the woman he wishes his daughter was. (Of course Tera and Margaret are identical).
Decades ago Julian and a group of archeologists found Tera in her crypt, where she had been placed by ancient Egyptian priests who chopped off her right hand (to represent the unnamed "sin" she had committed) and left her to rot. But first they obliterated all reference to Tera, and left a message over her tomb that within lay "She Who Must Not Be Named."
But Tera is "above law and taboo" and it is the priests who die, while Tera waits in her tomb for Margaret to begin to dream of her once Margaret "comes of age." In other words, once Margaret is old enough for her father.
The scientists found Tera's preserved body with its perpetually bleeding right arm (Hammer films did this kind of thing very well) at the exact moment Margaret was being born in England. Both Margaret and her mother died, but once Tera was uncovered by Julian, the baby Margaret started breathing again.
Why did Julian leave his wife in England when she was about to give birth? Egyptian sarcophagi had waited thousands of years; they'd wait another few weeks. Why did he abandon his wife to search for the beautiful Tera, or whatever Tera represented to him? Was Julian tired of his wife already? Did he already want something more? Something strange? Something forbidden?
As Tera's personality gradually replaces Margaret's, she dreams of a "land far away" with "no scheming priesthood, no repressive or archaic laws, and love is the divine possession of the soul." A place where any love is permissible.
Now we may guess what at least one of Tera's sins was. At the moment Margaret's mother died, Margaret became her relplacement.
As Julian looks down at Tera's body, wanting her, you see his knowledge of the wrongness of it in his face. I think Andrew Keir (star of Quatermass and the Pit) - - fleshy, with a sensuous Scottish accent - - was better suited to this role than the thin and flinty Englishman Peter Cushing, who started work on Blood from the Mummy's Tomb but left after his wife died. (If Cushing had played the role, I wonder if I would have even thought about the idea of incest. Which leads to more questions - - did the filmmakers intend it or did that "taboo" come from the actors' performances?)
Margaret has a boyfriend who hits her at one point. Most of the men in her life now that she's a grown, sexually available woman brutalize her in one way or another. Her father is using her, as is one of Julian's old colleagues who wants to control Tera's evil power. (Margaret's boyfriend is named Tod Browning, for the director of Bela Lugosi's Dracula and Freaks. Sometimes in-jokes just take you out of the story and are unnecessary. In a film that doesn't pretend to be anything but a comedy, like Shaun of the Dead, it doesn't matter, but in a movie that takes its story seriously it's better to resist the urge. But to be fair, when this movie came out in 1972 fewer people may have even gotten the reference.)
Julian and Margaret are shown to be matched as a couple in another way. Tera has had her right hand cut off. Julian has a stroke that paralyzes the right side of his body, leaving him unable to use (especially to raise, if I'm not getting too Freudian) his right arm.
In the conflagration at the end, Margaret and her father almost kiss. They slowly come together and almost do it. But they resist and hold hands. In the end they have to accept that they're "as meaningless as all of the dead." (One thing I like about Hammer horror movies over some Universal pictures is that Hammer makes them tragedies. There's no redemption at the end.)
The last scene is chilling and finally makes Blood from the Mummy's Tomb a "mummy movie."
Great piece of late Hammer hokum
www.DavidLRattigan.com | United Kingdom | 02/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Plenty of blood and guts, by Hammer standards anyway, in this 1971 offering from the famous "House of Horror". The story concerns an Egyptian princess being reincarnated in modern-day London, thus giving plenty of scope for both contemporary and ancient elements.
A very stylish production is directed with plenty of atmosphere by stalwart Seth Holt (Taste of Fear, The Nanny), who sadly died before filming finished. James Villiers stands out for his sliminess as the central villain, where Valerie Leon stands out mainly for her ample bosom. A great cast also includes Andrew Keir and George Coulouris. The score by Tristram Cary (The Ladykillers, Quatermass and the Pit) is pivotal to the tension.
In-joke alert: Hammer afficianados should look out for the names on the sign outside Villier's house early on in the movie."