Hammer’s ‘Mummy’ movies never really did it for me, but BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB is a shroud of a different colour. Adapted from Bram Stoker’s novel “The Jewel of the Seven Stars”, the movie suffered some behind the scenes setbacks, which contribute to its choppy nature. The backstage chaos began when original star Peter Cushing’s wife passed away after only a day’s filming. He was replaced by Andrew Keir (QUARTERMASS AND THE PIT). Then before shooting was complete, director Seth Holt (TASTE OF FEAR, THE NANNY) died of a heart attack, and Hammer veteran Michael Carreras had to step in to finish the film. Despite all this, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB is one of the better latter-day Hammers, picking up steam as it goes along, with a great performance by sexy star Valerie Leon.
Leon plays Margaret Fuchs, who was born the same day her father Professor Julian Fuchs (Keir) opened the tomb of Egyptian Queen Tera. Margaret grows up to be not only a dead ringer for the evil queen, but is given a large ruby ring on her birthday for protection. But the ring pulls Margaret under the spell of Tera’s power, and soon she and her boyfriend (who goes by the name Tod Browning!! ) get involved with supernatural shenanigans courtesy of dad’s former expedition partner Corbeck (James Villiers, THESE ARE THE DAMNED), gathering up ancient lost relics taken by other expedition members.
The murders are fairly gory, and there are some good frights along the way to the climax, when Queen Tera rises from the dead and battles Margaret for dominance. This was Leon’s only starring role, and she makes a fine Scream Queen. I’m surprised Hammer didn’t use her for other horror entries; instead she continued appearing in the CARRY ON series and a pair of James Bond flicks (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN). Also in the cast is George Coulouris, veteran of such classic films as CITIZEN KANE, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, and WATCH ON THE RHINE.
I’m not saying BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB is a great horror flick; it’s far from perfect, and the behind the scenes tragedies hurt the continuity. But Leon and the cast somehow make it all work, and I’d choose it over the 1980 remake THE AWAKENING, with Charlton Heston and Susannah York trapped by a moldy script. At least this version has Valerie Leon to ogle, and she delivers a treat for your Halloween viewing.