The Mummy’s Shroud


Notes: SevenArts / Hammer Film Productions Limited. 90 minutes.
Sir Basil Walden: Andre Morel
Stanley Preston: John Phillips
Paul Preston: David Buck
Barbara Preston: Elizabeth Sellars
Hasmid Ali: Roger Delgado
Haiti: Catherine Lacey
Claire: Maggie Kimberley
Longbarrow: Michael Ripper
Harry Newton: Tim Barrett
Inspector: Richard Warner
The Mummy: Eddie Powell

Produced: Anthony Nelson Keys
Directed: John Gilling
Story: John Elder
Screenplay: John Gilling
Music: Don Banks.

Summary: In2000 B.C., the Pharaoh Men-Ta’s wife dies after giving birth toKah-To-Bey. The Pharaoh is too future-oriented, and when his jealousbrother Amen-Ta attacks, he is overthrown and killed. A loyalslave, Prem, takes the boy to the desert with a retinue of otherslaves, the “sole survivors of the holocaust.” TrésMosesesque, “Prem would guide them out of the desert wilderness.”Prem may be thinking of a future bloodbath as slaves die in thesun, but when Kah-To-Bey gives the royal seal to Prem and dies,Prem covers him with a sacred shroud and, after carving the eventin stone, will soon die too.

In 1920, self-aggrandizing Stanley Prestonfinances a dig. Archaeologist Sir Basil Walden and his team arebeset by troubles and lost. Claire warned about starting on Fridaythe 13th; she gets “feelings” and suspects “Whenthe desert is behind us then begins the real danger.” HarryNewton and Preston’s son Paul are also along.

In Cairo, Preston shows off the mummy Premwith the Pharaoh’s seal, announcing to the press that Kah-To-Bey’stomb should be close by. He will accompany a search expeditionfor the missing Walden party.

The Walden group discovers the tomb of Kah-To-Bey,but Basil is bitten by a snake just before Preston’s search partyarrives. A seeming lunatic Hasmid Ali predicts doom, but the tombis opened and entered. When the mummy is uncovered, Claire refusesto read the shroud, claiming that it refers to “the spiritof the tomb and the sacred words of life and death.”

The boy-king’s remains are taken to Mazaraand placed near the mummy of Prem, the former protector. Basilis in ill health and has been placed in a lunatic asylum. PaulPreston blames his father. Basil escapes and is taken in by Haiti,a fortune-teller, who sees a murderous dead spirit in her crystalball and tells Basil he will be dead soon. Hasmid is her son;he reads aloud the hieroglyphics on the shroud of Kah-To-Bey and,with some crumbling, Prem comes to life and crushes Basil’s head.

A museum janitor sweeps dust under the rug(before dusting the room), and undergoes some would-be comic businesswith the remains on the table until discovering Basil’s body.The shroud has been stolen, and Preston wants to leave the country:”I must insist on my rights as a British citizen.” Hiswife torments Preston, noting that she feels safe since shedidn’t enter the tomb.

Claire wants to see Harry’s photos of the shroud,but fears animating a destructive “thing.” The gypsysees this plan in her crystal ball, so the dentally-challengedHasmid animates the mummy again. Harry throws acid and stabs themummy, but the mummy crushes a jar of acid over Harry and a firedoes the rest.

A freaked Preston tries to have his lackey,Longbarrow, book passage back to England. Longbarrow breaks hisown glasses and therefore sees only a blurry mummy attack. Heis wrapped in curtains and thrown out the window. The gypsy spieson Preston and his dysfunctional marriage. When Preston triesto flee the country, Hasmid cons him into waiting in an alleyfor transportation and resuscitates the mummy again. Preston turnswhen a cat screeches, and the mummy appears out of the woodwork,smashing Preston’s head against the wall.

The inspector is now freaked: “There arenow four dead people who are beginning to gnaw at my conscience.”He invites Paul and Claire to go, but Claire has taken off tosee the gypsy, who laughs maniacally about impending death. Paulsees fresh blood on the mummy’s fingers. Claire obeys the gypsy’sadvice and goes to pray for forgiveness, but Hasmid curses herwhile animating the mummy: “Kill her!” Paul is nearlystrangled. An ax in the shoulder and the inspector’s bullets dono good. Paul implores Claire to speak the sacred words of death.Hasmid laughs that her words can do nothing without the shroud,but he is shot. Claire takes the shroud and says words of death.The attacking mummy collapses and slowly crumbles to dust. Clairesilently places the shroud on Kah-To-Bey’s remains.

Commentary:The dusty crumblings are effective, especially at the end, despiteHammer’s characteristically well-lit technicolor sets. Unfortunately,we see Prem at the beginning of the film as a pudgy and bald Englishman,so the mummy’s appearances necessarily retain those traces ofour earlier vision.

We don’t care much about the soon dead son-of-a-pharaohspoiled brat (as it were), so there’s no touching aspect to the4000-year devotion here. But there’s an economy to the plot inthis one for a change, so although this is another unsatisfyingmummy film, it’s a bit better than most.

Mummy Films