Monday, September 25, 2023

Under Wraps

Film: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

Mummy movies, starting from the 1932 film featuring Boris Karloff through to all of the current films have essentially one basic story. The mummy gets discovered by intrepid explorers who scoff at the curse of the tomb inscribed on the tomb. Eventually, either through the reading of an inscription or the desecration of the tomb or for some other reason, the mummy comes back to life and starts killing off the people who stand in his way. The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb from 1964 is no different in this respect.

That basic plot seems to come in large part from the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922 followed by the mysterious deaths of several of the participants in the discovery. The idea of a curse that destroys the living who disturbed the dead is a powerful one, and even manages to be interpreted in various modern way—at some level, Poltergeist follows this same formula. The formula just adds in the fun aspect of not merely an undead curse, but an undead avatar inflicting the curse.

This is a Hammer film, so we’re going to have at least that level of quality in the production even if the film itself is going to be pretty straightforward in its plot. As the film opens, we see the execution of an old professor by a group of Egyptians. We learn soon after that the professor’s expedition has discovered the tomb of Ra-Antef, son of Ramses VIII. The surviving members of the expedition, John Bray (Ronald Howard), Sir Giles Dalyrmple (Jack Gwillim) and Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland), who is the daughter of the professor killed in the opening, prepare to transport their find to a local museum.

However, this plan is soon changed, thanks to the decision of the expedition’s financial backer, Alexander King (Fred Clark). He plans to exhibit the findings of the expedition to the world, naturally charging a pretty penny for admission. But, of course, the curse starts to take hold and the mummy begins to walk again.

Since this isn’t enough for a film of this vintage and we have to have some sort of romance happening, we’re going to through a wrench into the works here. We learn straight away that John Bray and Annette Dubois are engaged. As the treasures are sent back to London for their first exhibition, we are introduced to Adam Beauchamp (Terrance Morgan), a wealthy art collector who is interested in their find. It soon becomes evident that he has designs on Annette as well, and may well have some other connection to what is happening as well.

The truth is that mummy movies are cool specifically because of the idea of the mummy returning to exact his revenge. However, we know that the mummy is going to wreak as much of its revenge as it can before eventually being stopped. All of the minor and tangential characters that need to be killed off are going to be killed off, and being a main character in a romantic relationship is essentially plot armor. That’s a standard of the subgenre, and it’s not going to be played with here.

There is a bit of fun near the end when we get a cool reveal. It’s not a huge shock if you consider the principle of plot economy—nothing being included that isn’t eventually going to be relevant, but at least it feels like an attempt to do something more than simply have a rampaging zombie hunting down tomb desecrators.

It's not enough to make this a truly exceptional film, though. It’s fine for what it wants to be—a fun little thrill with a cool monster. When we get to the end, we expect that the apple cart of reality will be righted and everything will go back to normal. It’s really just a question of exactly how we’re going to get there.

Is this great? Not really. It’s serviceable. It’s entertaining for its 80-minute run and otherwise pretty forgettable.

Why to watch The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb: Mummy movies are fun.
Why not to watch: You’ve pretty much seen this if you’ve seen any other mummy movie.


  1. This looks like fun. I'm sure it's better than that bloated one with Tom Cruise that tried to kickstart a cinematic universe. Man, that was a flop.

    1. Honestly, pretty much any movie I have ever seen that involves a mummy in any way is better than the Tom Cruise fiasco.

  2. This title sounds so familiar but I know I haven't seen this. I can't remember the last time I watched a mummy film.

    1. Even if you haven't seen this, you've kinda seen it. That's pretty much how mummy movies work.