THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐
Unwrapping The Mummy: The Making of a Hammer Classic (28m 39s, SD)
After making the wildly successful The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, Hammer wanted to keep the train moving. With an agreement with Universal Pictures that allowed Hammer to use assets and story ideas from their classic monster films, Hammer decided to make The Mummy. Instead of focusing on remaking the Universal film, Hammer took plot points and characters from the first four Mummy films.
This featurette covers all of this and more. We learn about how the score for the film came to be as well as the ideas behind a few keys scenes. Talk turns to Hammer as a company, which is really what these special features focus on, and how they were the type of company that wanted to brand their films and not have directors in the spotlight. This is one of the reasons that they liked Terrence Fisher so much. He stuck to the script and made good films out of them.
For a novice like myself, this featurette is a nice look at the film. The problem lies in that this is supposed to be a featurette about The Mummy, but talk turns to Hammer and how great it was to work there. I wish they had stayed the course talking about The Mummy, but I guess that they had exhausted all their avenues.
The Hammer Rep Company (14m 19s, SD)
This featurette takes a look at the supporting actors and actresses who would turn up in many Hammer films. Gordon Goodwin, John Stewart, George Pastel, Michael Ripper, and many others are featured here.
I thought that this featurette should have been much longer. What it boils down to is the host saying the person’s name and then cutting to some clips of Hammer films they were in. Rinse and repeat. Not much time is spent on any one person. I liked what was here, but wished that there was more.
The House of Hammer: Memories of Bray (46m 40s, SD)
Here we learn about the infamous Bray Film Studios, home to Hammer Films from 1951 through 1966. Most of the classics that people know were shot at Bray. Dracula, The Mummy, The Curse of Frankenstein, etc were shot on the various sound stages that Hammer built on the property.
Again, this is a doc that focuses on how much of a family Hammer Films was. Here it actually makes sense as we are diving into the history of the company, whereas other featurettes had a more narrow scope of talking about one film. We do learn a lot here. We learn how the studio was run and how the films were made.
Still Gallery (6m 58s, SD)
The score to the film plays as the stills go by.
The World of Hammer: Hammer Stars Peter Cushing (24m 48s, SD, 1.33:1 AR)
This is an episode of the tv series The World of Hammer that focuses on the films of Peter Cushing.
I never really liked this show as it gives a lot of spoilers away. This episode spoils The Abominable Snowman and The Hounds of the Baskervilles.
Original Promo Reel (5m 31s, SD, 1.33:1 AR)
There is no sound as it was lost. A few scenes play from the film.
Stolen Face (1h 9m, SD, 1.33:1 AR)
This film from 1952 tells the story of a plastic surgeon who goes away for the weekend only to fall in love with the woman staying next door to him at the hotel. She runs away, saying that she is going to marry another man. When the surgeon gets back from his weekend, he is given a case where he has to repair a woman’s scarred face. The surgeon does so, but makes her up to look like the woman from his weekend. The surgeon is so pleased with his work that he marries the woman only to find out what kind of person she really is.
I did not like this film. It is told in slow pace and not much happens. The plot doesn’t really kick in until over half way through the film. Keep in mind that this was the 50’s so audiences hadn’t seen many films like this before. That doesn't excuse the film for not being very good, but explains why a film like was made in the first place. We have, of course, seen films like this since like Single White Female and What Lies Beneath. The film just didn’t hold my attention and I knew where it was going when I figured out what was going on. Still, it is nice to see any film get a release, even if it is as a special feature.
Commentary with Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby
THE PACKAGING ⭐⭐⭐
This blu-ray comes to courtesy of Icon/Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
The front cover features the film’s original theatrical poster in all of its glory. There a few bits added like “double play includes DVD + Blu-ray versions” and “3-disc set”. These additions are done in the same style as the poster so they like they belong there. The U.K. rating bug is a little intrusive, but that’s ok.
The back cover gives us a plot summary of the film as well as the poster credits. We also get a breakdown of the special features found on the discs inside. At the bottom is the technical info for both the DVD and Blu-ray as well as another rating bug.
The discs all share the same artwork: none. The artwork is black and the lettering of the title of the film is yellow. The only way to tell these disc apart is by the small lettering below the title informing us which disc is which.
The blu-ray is REGION B (locked) and the two DVDs are REGION TWO.
THE PICTURE ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Mummy looks amazing. While I thought that Dracula looked good, here comes The Mummy to blow it out of the water. Everything here is great. The colors are nice and, at times, leap off the screen. There is a nice 3D effect throughout the film and film grain is present and accounted for, giving the film a “film like” feel. This is a major step up from Dracula and should be the go to when viewing the film.
THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐⭐
With the sound we are given a LPCM 2.0 track that stays true to the film. There is no enhancing of the track (that companies like to do by adding channels of sound that were never there to begin with) and dialogue is crisp and clear.
THE FILM ⭐⭐⭐
In 1895, in Egypt, the British archaeologists John Banning, his father Stephen Banning and his uncle Joseph Whemple discover the tomb of Princess Ananka. Stephen finds inside the tomb The Scroll of Life and reads it, awaking The Mummy of Anaka's keeper and former lover Kharis. He has a heart attack and goes insane. The Egyptian Mehemet Bey that worships Ananka steals the scroll and controls The Mummy. Three years later, in England, Stephen is an intern in a mental institution and John has married his fiancée Isobel. However the fanatic Mehemet decides to use The Scroll of Life to revenge those that have desecrated Anaka's tomb. The Mummy attacks Stephen and Joseph; however, when The Mummy attacks John, Isobel that resembles Ananka saves her husband. But will she be saved from The Mummy?
I found this film to be a little bit of a disappointment coming off the heals of Dracula, which I found to be a much better film. The film is well directed by Terrence Fisher, who knows where to put the camera to make his monsters actually scary. The film kind of plods along for a bit because of a shoehorned in back story for the mummy. There is very little reason for it to be there outside of a small plot detail at the end of the film that could have dealt with another way.
Peter Cushing is, as always, great in the film. He brings a gravitas to the role that another actor probably wouldn’t have brought. We want to follow John Banning and we root for him to win in the end.
The person whom I thought was wasted was Christoper Lee as the Mummy. While we do see him in human form during the flashback, Lee spends most of the film wrapped in gnarly bandages and with his mouth covered. (We learn in the special features that there was a scene shot that showed Lee getting his tongue cut out of his mouth. It was cut for obvious reasons). Lee has to get his performance through with his eyes and body movements. As much as I love Lee, I don’t think that he does a very good job here. It isn’t his fault, though. I don’t think that any actor would have been able to give a good performance in that getup.
The Mummy is a good film. The story moves along at a good pace (until it stops to tell the backstory and then starts up again) and the performances are good, save for Lee. The film does something that no other Mummy film has been able to do: make the mummy scary.
I liked The Mummy. This is the best Mummy film, but I have never been a big fan any of the various Mummy films. I am glad that I liked the film because as soon as the backstory finished up, I didn't think that the film was going to be able to come back from it. It does and we are much better for it.
The blu-ray is a mixed bag. The picture and audio are great, but the special features are a little bit off. They spend a lot of time talking about Hammer itself instead of the film that they are supposed to be talking about. I like the history lesson, but I came for The Mummy and that is what I wanted to learn about. This is still a nice blu-ray and worth the money.