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  Blood from the Mummy's Tomb The Queen Reincarn-hate
Year: 1971
Director: Seth Holt, Michael Carreras
Stars: Andrew Keir, Valerie Leon, James Villiers, Hugh Burden, George Coulouris, Mark Edwards, Rosalie Crutchley, Aubrey Morris, David Markham, Joan Young, James Cossins, David Jackson, Jonathan Burn, Graham James, Tamara Ustinov, Penelope Holt, Angela Ginders
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Margaret Fuchs (Valerie Leon) is suffering that nightmare again, the one where she sees a Queen of Ancient Egypt lying dead in her sarcophagus as her priests attend to her within the tomb they plan to wall her up inside. As the high priest places a funnel inside her nostril and adds a potion which enters her body, he follows up his treatment by cutting off her right hand, which he then gives to an underling who throws it to the jackals outside. But just as the ceremony is drawing to a close, a strong whirlwind breezes up, scares away the animals and causes the holy men's throats to be ripped out as the disembodied hand creeps away under its own power, a large ruby ring prominent on one finger. Margaret awakens screaming once again...

There are some who would tell you Blood from the Mummy's Tomb was a cursed film, and there were at least three reasons for that. First, Peter Cushing was forced to pull out of the production after one day when his wife fell ill, then just as the shoot was nearing completion, director Seth Holt died suddenly and producer Michael Carreras had to take over for the remaining few days, and to top it all after the thing was finished it wasn't even a hit, far from it signalling the period of the Hammer studio's decline was well underway. This all was likely a convergence of a selection of unfortunate events rather than a Tutankhamen-style revenge bid, since the plot wasn't taken from an actual incident.

Rather it was based on Dracula author Bram Stoker's novel The Jewel of Seven Stars, which to give you an idea of what a flop this turned out to be was re-adapted shortly after as the Charlton Heston vehicle The Awakening, and that was a flop as well, though this was more down to the boredom it generated in its audience. Blood was a shade better, not perfect by any means but it did conjure a mood of doom that was not so much approaching as already here, and working its evil spell over the characters who are powerless to resist it whether they are aware of their manipulation or not. Actually, the biggest reason commentators settled on its box office failure was that retitling of the source, as there were no Mummies in it.

Therefore nobody was stealthily stalked around a museum, crypt or country house by a bandage-wrapped monstrosity, and the menace was left up to the inanimate Queen Tera who for more or less the whole movie lay in that sarcophagus, motionless. However, she did have an agent who was more mobile, and he was Corbeck (James Villiers) who means to assist her in returning to life, thereby taking over the world in the process should she succeed. But Margaret has a part to play as well, for she is the exact double of the perfectly preserved corpse her father (Andrew Keir) has brought home from an Egyptian expedition, and his colleagues have taken an artefact each which will be important should they be assembled in the basement room where Professor Fuchs has placed Tera.

Valerie Leon has her own followers too, of course, and though she spent most of her career as a glamorous addition to a cast that needed decorative individuals in supporting roles, such as the Carry On series, this proved to be a rare lead for the actress and model. Once seen, you were unlikely to forget her, and here she was in almost every scene, giving her fans a good reason to hunt this one down even if her voice was dubbed throughout, as was the case with Hammer's attitude to their actresses, though post-production on Leon's other movies tended to dub her as well. The rumour was that while she could act out the necessary scene, her vocal prowess simply wasn't up to it, but those aficionados presumably were none too bothered as long as they could look at her. Still, this was a strange film with a cavalier attitude to its characters, feeling as if we were joining the plot halfway through, and while colourful (especially those torn out throats) the relentlessly dour tone of futility wasn't exactly cheering. You could understand why it wasn't a hit, but it did intrigue. Music by Tristram Cary.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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