These are amazing. I followed the link from the ever wonderful Frankensteinia and found myself browsing the site of Cheshire born sculptor Mike Hill who has left the UK for the sunny climbs of LA. I’d seen his amazing Batman and Superman wax-statues in the DC Mythology book but have never seen these amazing busts. His Frankenstein sculpts have to be seen to be believed but the accuracy on these mummy busts of Karloff and Lee is staggering. Just look at that expression in the Hammer Mummy’s face and Karloff’s the Uncanny’s gaze has perhaps never been so hypnotic…
Archive for Christopher Lee
You have to wonder about Peter Cushing’s archealogist John Banning. He’s been studying the ancient Egyptian priestess, Princess Ananka for most of his adult life, and is so dedicated to the cause that he risks being crippled forever rather than missing the opening of her tomb, and yet he doesn’t twig that his wife, rather conveniently, is the spitting image of her. What a plum.
After enduring The Mummy’s Curse I was more than releaved to fast forward fifteen years to Hammer’s 1959 The Mummy. Of course, the Terence Fisher flick is almost a Universal mega-mix. There’s the scroll of life from The Mummy, the legend of Kharis from The Mummy’s Hand and the swampy finish of The Mummy’s Curse. But while the Universal Mummy’s were set in the present day (or even the future) Hammer’s offering was firmly set in what was becoming its signature gothic style.
There’s another Hammer icon here; Christopher Lee as the living corpse himself and without doubt Lee is the joy of this film. Encased in wonderfully rotting bandages, his is a Kharis who is brutal and driven. Though stiff-legged, when he’s set you in his sights, you don’t stand much chance. Smashing through doors and windows, he’s like a juggernaut, marching forward with terrifying speed. And then there’s those eyes. They really are the window to Kharis’s troubled soul; terrifying one second and bursting with pathos the next. The scene when he first spots the doppelgänger of his beloved Ananka is simply beautiful and on a level of Karloff’s best monster performances.
The movie does have its faults. The opening is a trifle slow and you have to question why Ananka’s tomb has escaped tomb robbers as it’s defenses seem to be a couple of doors from MFI and a piece of garden twine, but as soon as the action moves to Britain, its a full on creep-fest with sinister fez-wearing priests, drunken peasants, lunatics and even a debate of whether displaying ancient corpse’s is morally right. Mummy movies never got better than this.
4 (out of 5) Tana Leaves
Ananka’s High Priest, Mehemet Bey, is played by George Pastell who eight years later, in the guise of Eric Kleig, would be raiding tombs of the planet Telos, in Doctor Who’s first tribute to the Mummy genre, .
It’s the clash of the Mummies. Karloff vs. Lee vs. Vosloo. Monochrome vs. technicolour vs. cgi. Who will survive the desert storm? Let’s get ready to rumble!
Thank you for voting. Now please enjoy a picture of the lovely Zita Johann, the original Mummy squeeze. Hurrah!
So why start a new blog like this today. Well, as pointed out over at the wonderful The Horrors Of It All blog (an essential visit for anyone who loves horror comics) today is the birthday of Baron Frankenstein himself, Peter Cushing. Cushing is obviously a legend and my favourite incarnation of the monster maker – even if, of course, the least like Mary Shelley’s own characterisation .
What’s more tomorrow is the birthday of two other masters of the macabre, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. It’s also my wedding anniversary but I promise you that wasn’t the reason that we chose the date. Honest. (It really isn’t. My long-suffering wife would kill me to suggest otherwise. The date was actually chosen not to clash with the League One play-off finals but that’s another story).
Anyway, I only wish they still made Walls Dracula lollies as I would be sucking on one tomorrow to celebrate these three giants of monster moviedom. So Mr Lee, I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow and Messrs Cushing and Price, I hope that wherever you are, you’re raising a glass together in celebration. Happy Birthday from Monster Madness.