Cinema Sunday: The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

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Title: The Mummy’s Shroud

Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Hammer Studios)

Writers: John Gilling & Anthony Hinds

Director: John Gilling

Producer: Michael Carreras

Starring: André Morell, John Phillips, David Buck, Elizabeth Sellars, Michael Ripper, Eddie Powell (as the Mummy)

Released: March 1967

MPAA: Approved

To finish off Hammer Studio’s trilogy of Mummy movies (yes, the last one doesn’t count because there wasn’t an actual “mummy” in the movie! The Mummy- 1959, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb- 1964, I’m taking a look at the 1967 film, The Mummy’s Shroud! The film does recycle some of the ideas from previous films of the genre, but it also has a good cast, and a fine job turned in by basically a stunt man! Sit back, relax, and get ready to watch some bandages fly as the Mummy is out for revenge! Let’s get to the flick!

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The film begins with some narration informing the viewers that there was a child born to a king of Egypt in ancient times. This boy would soon be ushered away from his father as a coup took place, and the then king, was murdered. The boy was taken to the desert, but he and his caretakers died there from lack of food and water. End interlude…

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In the time around 1920, we see an expedition led by Basil Walden (Andre Morell), and his assistants, Paul Preston (David Buck) and Claire de Sangre (Maggie Kimberley). The expedition is financed by a greedy businessman named Stanley Preston (John Phillips). He and his wife, Barbara (Elizabeth Sellars), have arrived in Cairo, and are troubled about the expedition having lost contact with all outside persons. There’s also a man there to help Stanley Preston, by the name of Longbarrow (Michael Ripper). He seems to be more like a slave to Preston, but an honest man nonetheless.

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After a press conference, Stanley joins one of the search parties that are heading out to find Sir Basil and young Paul. Meanwhile, the expedition finds the tomb, and digs their way into the actual burial section of the boy-king. The team is accosted by an Egyptian man who shouts at them in a foreign tongue, and tells them that he guarding the tomb. After thinking about his warning for about ten seconds, they proceed inside. They head inside, but Claire is troubled by an ominous warning about disturbing the tomb. Sir Basil seems to pause, but then they all join in (except Claire) and excavate the bones and shroud of the boy-king. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Sir Basil gets bitten by a poisonous snake, and barely makes it out alive.

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Next, Stanley and his search party catch up to the expedition, and he sees an opportunity to seize all the glory for himself, even though he had nothing to do with the actual find. They remove everything from the tomb, and head back to Cairo to inventory the loot. Stanley wants to take everything back to England, but the others are worried about Sir Basil, as he’s taken a turn for the worse. Stanley has Sir Basil committed to an asylum because of his erratic behavior. Soon after though, he escapes. Stanley just wants to get out of town, but the police wont let anyone leave until Sir Basil is found.

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Speaking of Sir Basil, as he’s wandering around the city, evading the police, an old woman (a fortune-teller) approaches him, and tells him that she can help. Her and her accomplice (the man who warned the expedition in the tomb), tell him that he’ll soon die, and then we see Hasmid (the accomplice), steal the burial shroud from the mummy, and perform a ritual. This brings the mummy to life, and then it sets out to seek revenge against the defilers that sought to profit from his body and wealth! As the fortune-teller continues to taunt Sir Basil, he gets weaker by the minute, and then from behind the mummy approaches. It grabs his head, and crushes it like a grape (image above)!

He is only the first in line, and the clock is ticking for all those who entered the tomb!

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OK, here are my thoughts:

This film is a bit underrated for sure. No, it isn’t the finest movie Hammer ever produced, but it’s also not the worst by far. André Morell is his usual self, and delivers a good performance, but too brief as well. After his other performances in Hammer films, you know what he brings to the table. The supporting cast is a good one too, and John Phillips is a great scoundrel in this film. His love of money and cowardice later in the film, are the textbook definition of the word miscreant!

The music score was a good one, and better than most latter-day Hammer films. Don Banks is probably the second person I think of (behind James Bernard) pertaining to Hammer music scores, and deservedly so. The sets are quite good as you also come to expect from Hammer, and really have you believing that you are in Cairo. The ever faithful, Michael Ripper gives a good performance as well, and just seeing his face makes a Hammer film feel more comfortable.

Take some time out to visit or revisit the Hammer “Mummy” films. When looked at as a trilogy, they might not make sense as they don’t continue on with the same story, but taken as separate films with the same antagonist, you’ll be delighted by the results.

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Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: The Snorkel (1958)

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Title: The Snorkel

Distributor: Columbia Pictures/Hammer Studios

Writers: Peter Myers, Jimmy Sangster (Screenplay)

Director: Guy Green

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys, Michael Carreras

Starring: Peter Van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, Gregoire Aslan, William Franklyn

Released: September 1958 (U.S.)

MPAA: UR

Another Sunday, and another awesome offering from Hammer Studios! This little known film is one that is very deserving of more accolades. It really creeps you out when you think of how sadistic the killer is, and what lengths he’ll go to when putting his efforts into something he wants. Without giving away too much, you’ll definitely get your monies worth from this one!

With a cast of almost no familiar faces (for a Hammer film), this one usually escapes any lists of great films from Hammer, but don’t let that fool you, it really has solid acting, great sets/locations, and is an absolute creep-fest when you really think about it! Well, let’s get on with the movie!

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The film begins with a phonograph (that’s a record player for all you kids out there!) belting out a tune. The record quickly comes to an end, and we then see a man, Paul Decker (Peter Van Eyck) and he’s taping all the windows shut, along with any place in the room that might let in/out air. We see a woman, lying on the couch, unconscious. He hears voices outside of the home, and notices two people (servants) heading inside. He quickly dons a snorkel, and attaches two long tubes that were hidden inside a secret panel in the floor, then creeps inside the hidden panel, and waits. Within minutes, the two servants try to enter the room where the woman is lying unconscious (and Paul is in the hidden compartment), but the door is locked. The female servant sniffs around the door (presumably smelling natural gas), freaks out, and gets the male servant to help break the door down. They enter, and are almost overpowered by the gas, but manage to open the windows. The woman, is already dead though, and the family vacation home in Spain is now a crime scene.

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The next scene brings the police, and also a family friend, Wilson (William Franklyn). The lead inspector (Gregoire Aslan), tells Wilson the facts, but leaves the final verdict to the inquest. The two men attempt to theorize why this woman would commit suicide, and can’t figure it out. As they continue to talk, a voice cries out from the doorway. We then see Candy Brown (Mandy Miller), the daughter of the dead woman. She screams out that Paul must have killed her, because her mommy wouldn’t do such a thing. The inspector tells her that it was necessary to break down the door, so no one did this and then got away. She still wont believe it, and starts to search the room. Meanwhile, her dog, Toto, begins scratching at the rug covering the hidden compartment. While all this commotion is going on, Jean (Betta St. John) bursts into the room, and pulls Candy away. She’s Candy’s babysitter, and the two were in England while this was going on. As Candy and Jean are leaving the room, she shouts to the inspector that Paul also killed her daddy, but they brush it off.

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We next see the Inspector question Jean, but she gives no answers they’re looking for other than the fact that she tells him about how Candy was present when her father died “accidentally” with her mother and Paul. Wilson then takes the girls to a hotel, and we see Paul creep out of his hiding place. He hides his snorkel, and watches the two servants leave the premises. He’s supposedly away working on a novel (he’s a writer), and has made great strides to have an airtight alibi.

Over at the hotel, Jean tries to assuage Candy’s fears that Paul murdered her parents, but she’s not wavering one iota. After Jean leaves, she tells her dog that she’s going to get the proof she needs to put Paul away. Jean goes back to the house, and finds Paul, “grieving.” Of course, he acts like he’s distraught, but the viewer knows different. Back at the hotel, Jean returns and talks to Candy, and they argue over Paul’s credibility. Suddenly, Paul enters the room, and Candy questions him vehemently. She then accuses him of murdering her parents.

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The next day, Candy ventures out on her own, to investigate her mother’s murder, while the others are at the inquest. She goes right to the inspector, and pleads with him to believe her about Paul. The inspector tells her that it was impossible because the room was locked from the inside, and the gas would’ve killed Paul too. He also tells her that if she can find out how a man can be invisible and not die from the gas, he’ll arrest him. Once back at the hotel, Candy sees a poster being put up nearby her window, and it shows a tropical scene with men snorkeling. She gets the idea that that is how a man can breathe and not die from gas.

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Jean comes in and tells Candy that they’re going to go to America for a trip to get away from all of this. Candy also learns that when you leave the country, your passport gets stamped, verifying the trip. She then sets out to find Paul’s passport, because he was allegedly in France when her mother died. Just as she is getting somewhere, her dog pulls something out of Paul’s closet. It’s the mask for a snorkel, but Candy is so set on finding his passport, she doesn’t even realize its importance. She eventually does find the passport, and as she looks it over, she’s suddenly startled from behind by Paul. He explains to her that his passport corroborates his being out of town when her mother died, so she leaves quietly. Her dog however, is another story. It continually goes into his closet and pulls out his snorkel gear. He then gets a sadistic look on his face, and summarily poisons the dog. Candy is beside herself with grief, and of course, blames Paul. She believes that she’s getting to close, and that’s why Paul did this, so she confronts him, and tells him that she knows he did this, and that she’ll see him dead for all of this trouble.

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Later that evening, Jean is having dinner with Paul, and we see that not only is he a cold-blooded killer, but also that he’s subtly influencing Jean, as well as trying to “get his foot in the door” with her romantically. Candy is getting more determined by the minute, and Paul is getting more and more angry that this little girl might just have the will-power to match his evilness.

Will Candy prove Paul’s guilt, or will kill her first? Can Jean keep Paul’s slimy hands off of her, and be persuaded to believe Candy’s story? These questions will be answered if you watch this film!

OK, here are my thoughts:

First off, if you watch any movie on my recommendation, let this one be at the top of the list. The performances by Peter Van Eyck (Paul) and Mandy Miller (Candy) are top notch. Both have an iron will, and won’t be stopped once they’ve decided on a path. This is what drives the movie, from shortly after the beginning, to the end. Speaking of the end (no, I won’t spoil it), I was flabbergasted by the ending, but then it continued on for another thirty seconds, and that part kind of left some of the air out of my sails. Not that it took anything away from the movie, and when you look at it, for that era, it makes sense, but I wanted it to end a minute before it actually did.

A good music score, along with fantastic sets, really give the film that something extra all good cinematic features have throughout them. The filming location was Italy, and the home and surroundings used were more than adequate at doubling as “Spain” for the film. The Inspector didn’t play a huge role, but certainly gave the film a European flavor that was cool. The other main character, Wilson (William Franklyn), was another solid addition to the cast, and played a good cynic.

Get out there and grab this flick as it is part of a collection called “Icons of Suspense” that you can get on the usual places. A few other good ones on that set as well, so don’t hesitate if you can get it at an affordable price. See you next week!

Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: The Pirates of Blood River (1962)

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Title: The Pirates of Blood River

Distributor: Columbia Pictures/Hammer Studios

Writer: Jimmy Sangster

Director: John Gilling

Producer: Michael Carreras

Starring: Christopher Lee, Kerwin Mathews, Glenn Corbett, Oliver Reed, Michael Ripper, Andrew Keir, Marla Landi

Released: August 1962

MPAA: PG

 

Everyone knows about the horror films that Hammer Studios produced over the decades, but if you look even deeper into their catalog, you’ll find some other gems, such as this one. The range of the Hammer Studio was quite wide, but of course, they’re known for their Gothic horror films. But personally, I think they’re action/adventure films are a very close second.

This film in particular, gives you a (very small) bit of horror, but mostly just some great action with pirates fighting against a Huguenot colony. Action, intrigue, love, and war. Don’t take your eyes off of the screen for a minute, because you will miss something. An all-star cast, featuring some Hammer stalwarts, but also actors like Kerwin Mathews (7th Voyage of Sinbad)! Let’s get down to the plot!

 

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The film begins with a pirate ship sailing towards an island. On this island, there is a settlement of Huguenots. They live their lives, governed by the laws of the Bible, and are quite strict. Next, we see a young man, Jonathan Standing (Kerwin Mathews), and his lover, Maggie Mason (Marie Devereux), as they playfully run through the forest, to find a spot for some “courting.” They do, but before they can get busy, a whip strikes the back of Jonathan, and they both realize they’re in trouble. You see, Maggie is married to one of the town elders, and as stated earlier, they follow the teachings of God very strictly. Maggie runs away, but gets cornered near the river. She dives in, but as everyone else closes in on her, they back off, because the river is full of man-eating piranha. Maggie is toast.

 

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Back in the settlement, Jonathan is tried and convicted in record time. He’s convicted by his own father, Jason (Andrew Keir), and the rest of the council to spend fifteen years at the penal colony on the other side of the island. The chances of getting out of there alive are slim, because of the brutality of the guards, so when Jonathan gets his chance, he and another man work in tandem, and make a break for it. He ends up evading the guards long enough to be discovered by a pirate, Mack (Michael Ripper), that tells him his captain can help him get back to his settlement.

 

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As Jonathan is introduced to Captain LaRoche (Christopher Lee), he gets the feeling he’s hiding something, but also knows he needs his help in evading the guards, and getting back to his settlement, so he agrees to lead him to the other side of the island. The journey itself introduces other characters that are under LaRoche’s command. We meet Hench (Peter Arne), a man who clearly has his own intentions. We also see another, Brocaire (Oliver Reed), who despises Hench.

 

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Once the trip is nearing its end, a couple of Jonathan’s friends, and his sister, have moved outside of the settlement, in protest of Jonathan’s sentence. It is here, when LaRoche makes his true intentions clear, and states that the pirates will plunder the village of any and all supplies. He does state that as long as Jonathan helps him, no one will have to die. A small boy sees the pirates and that they have taken hostages, so he runs off to the settlement to warn them. As the pirates approach, a huge fight scene occurs, and it looks as if it will be a stalemate. Some of the pirates manage to get inside the settlement walls, and grab the women, and use them to make the men surrender.

 

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LaRoche then gathers everyone inside the great hall, and makes a proclamation. He states that if they don’t lead him to a treasure that supposedly resides here, that he will begin to execute a hostage regularly until his demands are met. Meanwhile, Jonathan, his sister, Bess (Maria Landi), and her husband, Henry (Glenn Corbett), concoct a plan to stop LaRoche. Inside the hall, Hench and Brocaire have had enough of each other, so they settle their difference by having a blindfolded sword duel. Hench ends up winning, and of course, in true pirate fashion, the other man dies. As people begin to be executed, Jonathan begs his father to tell LaRoche where the hidden treasure is, but he refuses. He seems to have a convoluted idea that he cannot give up some gold for the lives of his fellow-man.

I wont spoil the end, but rest assured, you will see another huge battle scene where many lives will be lost, the gold will be found, a mutiny will happen, and the piranha will get to feast once more!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Hammer does an outstanding job with this movie in a way that some of their others films just can’t measure. You get an epic pirate movie, with so many characters, you can barely keep up. It does straddle that line slightly, but most movie aficionados will be fine. When you sit back at think that Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed, Michael Ripper, Andrew Keir, and Kerwin Mathews are all in this film, it makes your head spin! All of those actors can really bring it in their perspective roles,  and believe me when I say, that they truly do in this film.

The music score (Gary Hughes) offers some timely interludes, and the sets (Bernard Robinson) were magnificent. Not to be outdone, is Hammer makeup man, Roy Ashton. These actors and actresses looked like pirates and Huguenots. His work in this film should be applauded. The two “horror” scenes in the film seem slightly out of place, but don’t hinder the overall experience of the film. Heck, I would’ve loved more piranha action personally. And as always, you get some very lovely ladies (especially Marie Devereux! – image above) that give the film that Hammer feel! Check out the movie either at the usual spots (Amazon, etc.) or search for it online. You won’t be disappointed with this one!

 

Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

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Title: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

Distributor: Hammer Studios/Columbia Pictures

Writer: Michael Carreras

Director: Michael Carreras

Producer: Michael Carreras

Starring: Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland, Michael Ripper

Released: October 1964

MPAA: UR

 

 

After reviewing the first installment of the “Mummy” series from Hammer Studios, I thought it would be prudent to check out the next in the series as well! This film is pretty good, but not quite up to the standards of the first. It does however feature someone getting their arm ripped off, and a curb-stomp, so it will always have a place in my heart.

You don’t get the typical cast of Hammer regulars, but, you do get Michael Ripper! This dude is amazing, and even though he plays a small roll in this film, just seeing him on-screen is reassuring. You’ll notice in the credits, that Michael Carreras is running the show from top to bottom, so if you don’t like the film, blame him, I guess. A beautiful woman, artifacts from Egypt, and a really ticked off Mummy! Without further delay, here’s the plot!

 

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The film opens in the year 1900, and we see that some bandits have a man captured (Professor Eugene Dubois, played by Bernard Rebel), and they first stab him in the gut, then cut off his left hand! A few miles away, at a base camp for some Egyptology/explorer types, John Bray (Ronald Howard), is trying to ease the worries of Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland), the daughter of the man we just saw executed. Her father is overdue, and they soon find out why. The two share a moment of horny-ness, but then Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim) bursts in and informs them that her father is dead. A couple of the slave workers get out of line, and Bray pimp slaps one of them for his actions. After he does, one of them (George Pastell), informs him that for desecrating the tombs of the dead, they’ll pay with their lives!

 

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No one seems to heed the ominous warning, and the relics are then packed up for transportation back to the U.K., for exhibition. Before that can happen though, the man, Alexander King (Fred Clark) responsible for all the financial backing arrives, and informs them that he’s taking the relics on a whirlwind tour, showing it off to the world. Sir Giles vehemently disagrees with this, and quits the job because he believes it is sacrilege. King then tells Bray and Annette and both of them are shocked to hear this news, but agree to join King on his “tour.” They have dinner with King, but it’s interrupted by a servant that tells them that Sir Giles requests their presence immediately. They arrive at the storage area, and find that the area has been ransacked, but nothing stolen other than the list of contents. They do find one of the servants dead (Michael Ripper – image above), and everyone looks at the mummy case nearby.

As the scene switches to another day, all are aboard a ship, setting sail for Europe. Sir Giles is still upset about the way things ended, but Annette and Bray seem to be OK with everything as they make out near a bannister. As Sir Giles heads into his cabin, he cries out, and Bray runs in to see what’s going on. Sir Giles was attacked, and the man responsible is till there, and he knocks him out as well. As the criminal tries to escape, he runs right into another man, Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan). Beauchamp beats the crap out of him, then tosses him overboard. He then quickly begins to slyly get on the good side of Annette (who was knocked over in the fracas). Bray is suspicious of him, but doesn’t object to his forwardness because Annette seems to like him. He convinces them to stay at his house when they get to England, and we can slowly see his intentions are not genuine.

 

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As the show is getting ready to open, Annette and the rest of the crew check out some of the relics. One shows a picture of ancient times, and Annette translates it for everyone. We then get a flashback (just like the one in the first film), and it shows a terrible betrayal centuries ago, and how the Egyptian priest named Ra, was killed by his brother’s minions. Beauchamp gets snappy with Annette about a relic that wasn’t found, but then the mummy is unveiled, and everyone gets a chill down their spine. Back at Beauchamp’s house, he continues to wine and dine Annette. She seems to be more and more receptive to it as time passes, and Beauchamp looks more and more like a snake. Bray walks in and gets the feeling the other two wished he wouldn’t have. He gets the drift, and after Beauchamp shows him an old relic, he agrees to have Sir Giles look at it for further examination and clarification (basically, Beauchamp wanted to keep Bray away from Annette).

Over at Sir Giles house, Bray insults Giles (who’s visibly drunk), and Giles then goes to bed for the evening. Bray stays up and uses Giles extensive library and materials to check out the relic. Someone creeps into the room silently, and steals the relic (after hitting him on the head). The next evening, King is ready to unveil his show t some guests and the press. Beauchamp is there with Annette, and even Sir Giles, but Bray is not there, because he’s recovering from the attack. As King narrates the story of their expedition, he finally gets to the end, and the coffin is opened. There’s only one problem…the mummy is missing. King is livid, and of course, thinks that someone has stolen it. He calls the police, but they offer little in finding the mummy.

 

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As King is walking home, he gives a hooker a couple of bucks, then he sees another trick, or so he thinks. Amongst the fog, he sees a shape, and that is the shape of the mummy. He believes it to be a joke, but before he can even react, the mummy grabs him by the throat, picks him up off of the ground, chokes him, then tosses him down three flights of stairs, killing him. Over at Sir Giles home, one of the servants is begging him to eat some supper, but he refuses. As she leaves, Giles hears a rustling at the doors leading to the back yard. As he looks, the doors are smashed open by the mummy, who enters, with death in his eyes. Giles shoots the creature, but it has no effect. The mummy throttles him, and then bashes his head in with a marble statue.

 

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Across town, Beauchamp has finally convinced Annette that he’s the man for her, so she writes a “Dear John” letter for Bray, and then she heads to her room. She hears a noise, and comes to the hallway. She sees the mummy choking Beauchamp, and screams. Her scream startles the mummy, and he turns to check her out. She faints, and then Beauchamp recites some Egyptian phrase, and the mummy comes to him, as if commanded. He still slaps him down, and then leaves. Bray and the police show up, because apparently he’s figured out that the mummy is the one doing the killing. They set a trap for him, and wait. When he arrives at Bray’s abode, and tries to kill him, the police throw a net on him, and almost capture him. The Egyptian guy that has hung around begs them to stop, and bows down before the mummy. He speaks to him, but the mummy isn’t impressed. It breaks free, and curb stomps the guy for his troubles.

I’m going to stop there, because I don’t want to give away anymore of the film. Let me just say that the ending is pretty cool (a bit of a twist), and involves someone losing a limb, and a bloody scene underground, where a mummy feels right at home!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Listen this flick doesn’t have a really strong lead like Cushing, but the sum of all the parts still make an interesting film that can carry your attention. Beauchamp is very sleazy, and you really can’t wait to see him get what’s coming to him. Howard, Clark, and Gwillim all do a solid job, but nothing Earth shattering. Jeanne Roland is pretty underwhelming, but easy on the eyes.

The sets are very good, and the mummy make-up looks pretty awesome. The film is certainly inferior to the 1959 flick, but this one definitely deserves a watch. I also thought that the music score was great as well. It did a nice job of sending an ominous message when needed, and thundering in when the moment was at the ‘crescendo’ (see what I did there). George Pastell was another nice touch, as he is a Hammer staple for films like this one. He always delivers a solid performance in these type of roles. Seek out a cheap copy in a bog box store or online, and settle in for a night at the mummy…I mean movies!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

 

 

Cinema Sunday: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

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Title: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

Distributor: British Lion Films

Writer: Wolf Mankowitz (based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson)

Director: Terence Fisher

Producers: Michael Carreras, Anthony Nelson-Keys

Starring: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed

Released: October 24, 1960

MPAA: PG-13

 

This film is the best adaptation I’ve ever seen of the Robert Louis Stevenson story. It’s also the only film I’ve ever seen where Christopher Lee goes out like a punk. Oh, and so does the rough and tumble Oliver Reed! Hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves! Let me start out by simply saying that this movie is one of the most entertaining films you’ll ever see. Certainly one of Hammer’s best, and Terence Fisher, Michael Carreras, and the rest of the crew are who we have to thank for that! Lets get down to the film, shall we?

The opening scene shows Dr. Henry Jekyll (Paul Massie), and a colleague of his, Dr. Littauer (David Kossoff), as the two men observe, and discuss a group of children playing in his garden. They see two of the children get into a fight, and Jekyll believes that there is something inside each human being, a dark side, if you will, that is merely a slight push away from coming out. Dr. Littauer thinks Jekyll is off in his assessment, and feels he’s pushing himself too hard in his laboratory, and should take a break. Jekyll then brings him into his lab, and shows him his progress. He injects a serum into the animal, and it goes wild. He explains to Dr. Littauer, that he can harness that evil side of man, and will do miraculous things with this serum.

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Next, we see Paul Allen (Christopher Lee), an old friend of Jekyll’s, as he shows his “true colors” immediately, by asking Jekyll for money to pay off his gambling loans, and also by kissing his wife! Yes, Paul and Kitty (Dawn Addams), we are led to believe that they’ve had a relationship for some time. Later, Kitty tells Jekyll that she’s going out for the evening, but Jekyll tells her to go alone, as he has work to complete. She leaves, and then Jekyll injects himself with the serum. At a local club, Kitty and Paul are having a good time, dancing and drinking. As Jekyll awakens from passing out, we see that he’s changed, but not into a gruesome monster, but just the face of a different, ordinary man (he does look a bit off kilter, but not deranged or like a monster in other films).

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Jekyll then goes to the club, and is approached by two prostitutes. He dances with one of them, but then notices Kitty and Paul in the corner at a table. He disengages from the prostitute, and she gets angry because he didn’t give her any money. Jekyll walks over to Paul and Kitty, and tells them that he’s an old friend of Dr. Jekyll’s, named Edward Hyde! The three talk for a while, but then Kitty gets mad at Paul and asks Hyde to dance with her. He does, and Paul gets jealous. The two finish, but then the prostitute and the club bouncer (Oliver Reed-pic below) approach Hyde about the earlier incident. Paul and Hyde bet the crap out of him, and then leave for the night. Back at the house, Jekyll is back to his old “self”, and is destroyed knowing that Kitty and Paul are having an affair. He tries to talk to her about their relationship, but she scoffs at him, and then goes to sleep.

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As the film proceeds, Jekyll begins to lose his grip on reality, and Edward Hyde is more than happy to take the reins. He concocts a plan to win Kitty over, but she tells him that no matter how unscrupulous Paul is, she’d never leave him, especially not for Hyde, because she finds him repulsive. This sets off Hyde even more, and he and Paul explore some of the more seedy parts of London. After a weeks time, Hyde tells Paul that he wants Kitty, and Paul, who actually seems to have feelings for her, is shocked at the request, and leaves Hyde on his own for good. In the meantime, Hyde has developed a bit of a relationship with an exotic dancer from the club, that does some tricks with a snake, during her show.

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In the end, Hyde puts another plan in motion to kill everyone, including Jekyll! Sound crazy? It is and it is not at the same time. There’s only one way to find out what happens in this crazy psychological thriller!

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OK, here are my thoughts:

As I said before, this film is absolutely entertaining. The cast is marvelous, and really carries this film to great heights. Paul Massie delivers an incredible performance, both as Jekyll and Hyde. His portrayal as Hyde really steals the show though, but Christopher Lee adds his normal brilliance to the film as well. You know you can always count on him to deliver, and this role, which is more of an opposite than what we’re used to seeing, really is one that makes him ascend above most others in the genre (or any genre for that matter).

Two more things of note. The musical score was fantastic in this one, and we have David Heneker & Monty Norman. The music was really strong and lent itself to the more critical scenes of the movie. Secondly, we must give a shout out to Mayo (Antoine Malliarakis) for the beautiful costume designs in this film. Many scenes were filmed in the “club” scenes, and the costumes were fabulous!

Get out and grab this one, as it’s in a cool four movie set called “Hammer Films: Four Creepy Classics”! A great set that has three other Hammer favorites, and doesn’t disappoint.

 

Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: The Hound of The Baskervilles (1959)

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Title: The Hound of The Baskervilles

Distributor: United Artists

Writer: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (story)

Director: Terence Fisher

Producer: Michael Carreras

Starring: Peter Cushing, André Morell, Christopher Lee

Released: May 4th, 1959

MPAA: NR

In this big screen version of the classic tale from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we see the vile Sir Hugo Baskerville, as he and his drunken cohorts torture a man because he questioned Sir Hugo’s motives with his daughter. After nearly killing him (or maybe killing him), he turns his attention to the daughter upstairs. Unbeknownst to him though, she’s escaped through the window, and is running loose, towards the moors. He lets loose the hunting dogs to chase her down, and cries out…”let the hounds of Hell take me if I can’t hunt her down”! He eventually does hunt her down, and murder her, but as he does, a sinister howl rings,out from the darkness. Sir Hugo is then attacked by some monstrosity, and is killed.

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In the present day, we see that Dr. Mortimer (Francis de Wolff), is telling this tale to Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) and his partner, Dr. Watson (André Morell). They seem unimpressed, which ticks off Mortimer. Holmes then uses his keen intellect to ask the right questions about a more recent murder in the Baskerville family, and then we realize that Holmes already knows of his motives for being at his home. Mortimer then explains that the next heir in line, Sir Henry Baskerville (Christopher Lee), is due to arrive today. Holmes tells Mortimer that he’ll meet with Sir Henry, and investigate the matter.

The next day, we see Sir Henry, at a hotel room, as he’s getting ready for the visit. Homes and Watson arrive, and tell him that they’ll take up the case. Before they leave, Sir Henry is the victim of an attack by a tarantula. Holmes has Watson accompany Sir Henry to the home, and he attends to other business. At the ancestral home, Sir Henry and Watson are taken care of by the housekeepers. Sir Henry does a toast but the female housekeeper drops her drink when he mentions the family curse. That night, Watson can hear a howling in the distance. The next morning, Sir Henry meets the local bishop (Miles Malleson), and they discuss the family history. After a short trip to the village, Watson is walking through the moors, when he’s approached by a man, warning him of straying off the trail. Watson continues on his trek, and runs into a beautiful girl. He asks her if he’s still on the right path to Baskerville Hall, and she runs away upon hearing that name. Watson pursues her through the moor, but then falls into quicksand. He’s rescued by the man he met earlier (Stapleton), and his daughter. They return Watson to the castle, and Sir Henry meets the girl (the daughter of Stapleton, who’s a local farmer), and the two get off to a rocky start.

Later that evening, Watson and Sir Henry see a light flashing out on the moors. They investigate, and find a man running loose on the property. As they are in pursuit, they hear a howling noise. Sir Henry appears to have some kind of panic attack. Back at the castle, Dr. Mortimer tells him that he has a heart condition that he’s inherited from the family. Watson goes back out to the moors to look for clues. As Watson sifts through the old ruins, he’s surprised by Holmes. who’s been watching things from a distance for days. As the two are talking, they hear a scream. They find a dead body, and assume it’s Sir Henry. They make their way back to the castle, and discover that it wasn’t Sir Henry, but an escaped convict that was roaming the area.

Another day passes, and they return to the spot where the body was left. It’s now missing, and they find tracks leading to the old ruins. They discover that someone or something not only killed the convict, but also mutilated his body. They find a dagger with the family crest on it, the very one that was used to kill decades earlier by the evil Sir Hugo. Holmes finds out that the housekeeper was related to the convict, and that she’d been taking him food and clothing. He was wearing one of Sir Henry’s suits when he was killed. Holmes visits the bishop, to decide what he knows about the recent disappearance of a tarantula. He tells Holmes that Dr. Mortimer had paid him a visit days before.

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Sir Henry pays a visit to the Stapleton’s house, and puts the moves on the daughter. She has a strange look in her eyes, but then she invites him to dinner for that evening. Watson and Holmes discuss who might be behind these acts, and they are still unclear about who is responsible. Holmes deduces that there is something more to the moors than meets the eye. Dr. Mortimer and Holmes are at odds over Sir Henry. Holmes tells Dr. Mortimer about a local mine that needs investigating, and he agrees to come with him. Holmes then pulls out the dagger he found earlier, but Dr. Mortimer doesn’t seem surprised to see it. Next, Holmes, Stapleton, and Mortimer descend into the mine. After a few moments, Holmes makes a discovery, but then there’s a howl of an animal, and a cave i seals Holmes in, for good apparently. In the next scene, Watson is attempting to dig his way down to Holmes, but Mortimer and Stapleton tell him that there’s no way he survived. As they walk back to the cart, they’re shocked to see Holmes sitting in the cart.

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Back at the castle, Holmes and Watson are putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Holmes had locked the dagger he found in a drawer in his dresser. It was forced open, and the dagger stolen. Sir Henry comes to see how Holmes is doing (he hurt his leg in the mine), and tells them that they’ve been invited to dinner by Stapleton. Holmes then realizes that this is the night Sir Henry is to die, so he intentionally annoys Sir Henry, so that he;ll go to dinner without them. Sir Henry leaves, and the two detectives make their plan! I wont spoil the ending, but rest assured, that Watson and Holmes see the action they’re looking for, and Sir Henry must face the hound from Hell!

OK, my thoughts are as follows:

The picture is without a doubt, one of the best films Hammer Studios has ever made. Cushing is astounding with his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes! He really “gets” the character, and what Doyle was trying to convey in his novel. André Morell has another magnificent performance, and really does his best at giving us a Watson we can believe. The bishop, Miles Malleson, is another Hammer regular, and has a knack with his depiction of the bumbling gentleman.

I definitely need to mention the man who wrote the screenplay, Peter Bryan. This adaptation was quite good compared to others. Not that you need to compare it, because it can stand alone against any other movie. The music score was fantastic too, and nothing less can be expected from James Bernard. It really set a thunderous mood during the high points of the film.

Long story short is that if you haven’t seen this movie, you need to right away. It is the definitive Sherlock Holmes movie! If you love mysteries, thrillers, or any type of classic film, get out and grab this film now!