Thursday, April 7, 2011

THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (John Gilling, 1967)

Once again a Pharaoh’s curse is used as a convenient convention to resurrect the shrouded monstrosity whose rest is less than peaceful, murdering all who defiled his sacred tomb. John Gilling recycles the same tedious revenge scenario that is dominated by an excessive prologue (narrated by an uncredited Peter Cushing) that has to tell us instead of show us, so the first ten minutes become boring exposition.

The story’s fault lies not so much in the boilerplate plot but in creating unlikable characters. The greedy businessman Stanley Preston is so abrasive that the only frisson is awaiting his demise…which is woefully unsatisfying. Hammer wunderkind Michael Ripper gets a great part (and the majority of screen time) as the belittled aid de camp to Preston, and his death is wonderfully developed and sympathetic. But little tension is created as the narrative shambles along towards its climax as the good guy scientist and his busty protégé must discover the nexus between the nasty murders and finally unwrap the mystery. 

THE MUMMY’S SHROUD is rather bland except for Michael Ripper’s slavish performance which imbues the film with emotion, while the dead eyes beneath the frightful Mummy makeup are disarming. Otherwise, a mundane addition to the Hammer oeuvre.

Final Grade: (C-)

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