The Mummy’s Shroud

Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet

Some people hate this movie, and I’ve yet to work out why. Sure, it has its faults (what Hammer horror doesn’t) but it also contains some bona fide chills that set it head and bandaged shoulders over other mummy capers.

It’s true that you do have to wait an awful long time for any mummy-action – the prologue is almost unbearable and when you get past a flashback sequence which features acting and sets that a school play would be ashamed off you then have to cope with a lot of mucking around in the desert – but when it happens, it’s certainly worth the wait. The mummy itself has been the cause of some controversy. Some say that it’s a step back from the make-up of either the Universal flicks or Hammer’s own 1959 effort. But there’s one thing to remember. This bad-boy was actually based on a real-life mummy (so to speak) found in the British Museum. While you’re missing the pathos of Lee in The Mummy, you’re treated to an unstoppable killing machine. It’s like the Terminator wrapped in linen. And once the killing starts, the fun begins. Our avenging slave, Prem, is as creative as he is unrelenting. My favourite death (which is an odd-thing to write sometimes) is Prem’s second victim who is knocked to the ground and then burnt to death after the mummy has smashed a bottle of acid over his head. Nasty doesn’t begin to cover it. Here we also have a mummy who kindly clears away after himself by hanging up the corpses in the cleaner’s cupboard, but still is apposed to braining someone against the wall when time is short. The fact that this is all carried out by a killer with an emotionless mask for a face is all the more unsettling.

Of the mummy’s co-stars, John Philips shines in his blustery performance as the glory-hunting bigot, Stanley Preston, but is acted off the screen by Michael Ripper as Preston’s put-upon and eternally nervous agent, Longbarrow. I challenge anyone to remain unmoved by his sad exit, poor soul.

Yes, I will admit that The Mummy’s Shroud has its problems. The low budget means that the sets leave a lot to be desired and some of the supporting players seem plain bored, but there’s still much to enjoy, not-the-least in the final showdown in the museum complete with an axe in the neck, words of death, a pre-Doctor Who Roger Delgado and a fantastically crumbly undead head. 

3 (out of 5) tana-leaves


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