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Mummy's Shroud, The

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John Gilling
Andre Morell
John Phillips
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 After enjoying much success with their resurrection of "Frankenstein", "Dracula" and "The Mummy" in the late fifties, it wasn't surprising that Hammer Productions would cash in with a slew of sequels in the following decade (just like their Universal forebears). As usual, quality began to slide, but at least the Dracula and Frankenstein franchises could rely on Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing respectively, to provide solid anchors with their always watchable performances. Hammer's "Mummy" series was a different matter though. The original Hammer Mummy film was always the one of the three that seemed to offer the least promise for interesting follow-ups, but that didn't stop Hammer bringing numerous lumbering bandage-clad Egyptians to life over the following years. "The Mummy's Shroud" was one of the last in this pretty unremarkable series of formulaic, PG rated, pot-boilers.
This one starts with a long and unnecessary prologue in which a bunch of anonymous British actors black up with what looks like brown boot polish in order to act out the tale of Prince Kah-to-Bey (Toolsie Persaud) and his faithful servant, Prem (Dickie Owen). Kah-to-Bey is forced to flee after a rival overthrows his father, the Pharaoh (Bruno Barnabe). With the rest of his family slain, the young Prince is spirited away by his father's servant, along with a retinue of slaves; the small band are forced to trek across the desert but get caught in a sandstorm. With no food or drink, the whole group eventually perish. Prem the servant is discovered thousands of years later, but his mummified remains are mistaken for Prince Kah-to-Bey. Sir Basil Walden (Andre Morell) and his team of Archaeologists set out to find the real remains, but his team are also caught in a sandstorm and the expedition's financier, rich industrialist, Stanley Preston (John Phillips) organises a rescue party which he reluctantly heads himself, since his own son, Paul Preston (David Buck), is one of those lost. Preston locates Walden's party just as they find Kah-to-Bey's hidden tomb and on viewing their great discovery, he connives to have Walden (who is seriously ill from a snakebite) shipped off to a mental asylum so that he can take credit for the discovery himself! Kah-to-Bey's remains are displayed covered in the shroud he was found wrapped in, alongside the mummy of his faithful servant; but two guardians from Kah-to-Bey's tomb plot revenge against everyone who set foot inside their master's resting place. After they recite aloud a prayer from Kay-to-Bey's shroud, Prem the Mummy comes to life to seek the death of most of the cast, one by one!
Writer and director John Gilling also helmed much loved Hammer favourite "Plague Of Zombies", but "...Shroud" doesn't possess any of the memorable moments that all the better Hammer films do. Instead, it is rather slow in getting to the point — the film is half way through its total running time before the mummy even rises, and the subsequent killings are brief, mostly bloodless affairs. Nor does it have any Hammer 'stars' to bail it out; the film's hero and heroine, Paul Preston (played by David Buck) and Claire de Sangre (played by Maggie Kimberly) are as bland a couple as could be imagined. They really play no significant part in the movie until the end when, as the last remaining members of the team that uncovered Kah-to-Bey's tomb, they manage to destroy his mummified protector. The mummy is an uninspiring creation played by stunt man Eddie Powel, who has to trudge about in a cheap looking mummy costume throughout the movie. Thankfully, there are enough entertaining performances from some of the lesser known Hammer players to save this outing from total boredom. Andre Morell's most famous role for Hammer is probably his turn as Dr Watson opposite Peter Cushing's Sherlock Holmes in the Hammer version of "The Hound of The Baskervilles". Here he gets a brief supporting role as Sir Basil Walden, the distinguished and urbane Archaeologists who ends up as the mummy's first victim. Once Morell's character is killed off, it falls to John Phillips and Hammer bit-part regular, Michael Ripper to inject some life into the moribund screenplay. Phillips gives a very necessary over the top performance as the arrogant but cowardly industrialist, Stanley Preston while Ripper, for once, gets a substantial role as Preston's harassed assistant, Longbarrow. The other noticeable performance comes courtesy of Catherine Lacy as the evil, fortune telling, guardian of the tomb who plot's the demise of the excavation team.
Momentum Picture's DVD sees the film given the usual bare bones treatment Hammer always seem to get on UK discs, which does not even boast a trailer to it's name! The 1:66.1 anamorphic transfer is mostly pretty good, with the occasional grain and print damage that pops up now and then not really causing too much irritation. The English audio track is a clear but unexciting mono. "The Mummy's Shroud" is a pleasant way to while away a rainy holiday afternoon but represents Hammer at their weakest and most unimaginative.

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