BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. (1971) A BUSTY HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. (1971) BASED ON THE 1903 NOVEL, JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS, BY BRAM STOKER. A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY SETH HOLT AND MICHAEL CARRERAS.

STARRING VALERIE LEON, ANDREW KEIR, JAMES VILLIERS, JAMES COSSINS AND AUBREY MORRIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Talk about a yummy mummy. This excellent Hammer romp has two big things in its favour; namely, lead actress Valerie Leon’s left boob, and lead actress Valerie Leon’s right boob, lol.

These are without a doubt the most magnificent breasts ever featured in a Hammer film, and Hammer films, as we know, featured many great boobies. But these knockers are in a class of their own, and should really have been given their own line in the credits.

Ms. Leon’s fabulous hair and eyes are not to be sneezed at, either. Her gorgeous chestnut tresses are so windblown and lovely and natural that I refuse to believe she was wearing a wig in this film, even though she admits to it herself.

And those beautiful, mysterious eyes! She really was the perfect choice to play both the evil Egyptian Queen Tera, as well as Tera’s modern day alter ego, Margaret Fuchs (pronounced Fookes), the daughter of a fervent Egyptologist.

Andrew Keir (Father Sandor in Hammer’s DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS and Professor Bernard Quatermass in Hammer’s QUATERMASS AND THE PIT) plays Margaret’s father, Julian Fuchs, the lucky bastard who gets to tuck that hot tamale into bed at night.

He’s obsessed with the aforementioned Queen Tera, to the point that he’s brought her perfectly preserved body and sarcophagus back from Egypt with him to his house, where he’s recreated her tomb in his basement. What a weirdo, right…?

Margaret, his own precious daughter, is the living image of Tera, and, when Daddy gives Margaret Tera’s old ring for her birthday, Tera’s evil powers begin to reach out across the chasm of centuries to take possession of Margaret.

Daddy Fuchs is not a very good Daddy. He wants to revive Tera, not realising that reviving Tera will mean his own daughter’s death. Margaret is so seduced by the power of the long-dead queen that she wants to revive Tera too, and so does Daddy’s old colleague (now his deadly rival), a plummy-voiced toff by the name of Corbeck.

The smarmy Corbeck has his own reasons for wanting to commit such a destructive act, and, when people have their own reasons for wanting to do things, it’s hard to dissuade them…

Together they set out to retrieve Tera’s ancient evil relics from the various members of the original expedition, because they need the relics to resurrect the old queen. Are they biting off more than they can chew? And will there be deadly consequences? Most assuredly, dear reader. Most assuredly…

There are some marvellous shots of Ms. Leon (in her time a Bond Girl and a Carry On hottie as well as a Hammer beauty) in a slinky negligée, with a wind machine blowing her hair artistically around her perfect boat-race.

Ms. Leon as Tera is pictured lying down with some kind of heavy gold necklet resting on her otherwise bare bosoms. She steals every scene she’s in with her stunning, matchless beauty.

I also love the inclusion in the cast of brilliant character actors James Cossins (FAWLTY TOWERS, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM, Hammer’s THE ANNIVERSARY and Hammer’s THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN) and Aubrey Morris, the gravedigger-gardener from THE WICKER MAN (1973).

A word about the craze for Egyptology and Egyptomania that existed when Bram Stoker wrote the little-known book on which the film was based, JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS.

Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, and the Victorians were fascinated by Egypt and all things Egyptian. As was Bram Stoker, who possessed quite a decent collection of books and writings on Egypt.

The British occupation of Egypt made it easier for them (the British) to bring the artifacts and sarcophagi they uncovered in that mystic land back to Blighty with them. (Whether or not it was entirely ethical for them to do so is another matter.)

Mummies and other paraphernalia frequented ended up in private homes as well as public museums, and there was a huge rise in the popularity of ‘mummy fiction.’

Mummy’s curses were frequently the topic of these stories and novels, that is, curses on the people who raped (let’s call a spade a spade here) and desecrated the splendour and grandeur of these ancient tombs and took their spoils home with them to other countries for profit and personal fame.

Female mummies in Victorian mummy-lit were usually sex objects and the male mummies autocratic princes or pharaohs. Some of the greatest films of all time are ‘mummy’ movies; for example, Boris Karloff’s UNIVERSAL triumph of 1932, THE MUMMY, and Hammer’s THE MUMMY of 1959, which starred the superb Christopher Lee in the title role.

Two facts about BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB you may not have known. Firstly, dear old Peter Cushing was initially cast as Busty St. Clair’s Daddio, but sadly had to withdraw after only one day’s filming due to his wife’s illness. And secondly, the scene where Hooters is eating that banana is indeed a metaphor for oral sex. D’uh, lol.

Anyway, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, featuring a rather cheeky disembodied hand, is a dark, moody atmospheric slice of Gothic film horror and could even be one of their bestest films. And never forget the two factors chiefly responsible for its success… Valerie Leon’s magnificent right boob, and Valerie Leon’s magnificent left boob…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE ANNIVERSARY. (1968) A BITCHY BLACK COMEDY FROM HAMMER FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE ANNIVERSARY. (1968) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS/SEVEN ARTS PRODUCTIONS. BASED ON THE PLAY OF THE SAME NAME BY BILL MCILWRAITH. DIRECTED BY ROY WARD BAKER. PRODUCED BY JIMMY SANGSTER. SCREENPLAY BY JIMMY SANGSTER.

STARRING BETTE DAVIS, JAMES COSSINS, JACK HEDLEY, CHRISTIAN ROBERTS, SHEILA HANCOCK AND ELAINE TAYLOR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film is a Hammer black comedy rather than a Hammer horror. Or, to look at it another way, it’s only a horror in the sense that it’s a film about one of the most horrible families you could ever hope to watch on a cinema screen.

I believe the movie was a commercial success, and it’s certainly very well acted (it was a stage play to begin with), but there’s something about it that makes my skin crawl a little bit. Am I in the minority here, or does anyone else feel a little bit uncomfortable watching THE ANNIVERSARY…?

Bette Davis, the grande olde dame of the silver screen, is undoubtedly magnificent here as Mrs. Taggart, a shrewdly manipulative old biddy who rules her family with an iron fist in a glove carved from solid granite.

From her entrance at the top of the stairs in her palatial family home, clad in a fire-engine red dress to match the eye-patch over her damaged left peeper, she steals every single scene she’s a part of and leaves the younger ones standing, though they’re no slouches either in the acting stakes.

Old Ma Taggart’s husband has been as dead as the dodo for a good ten years. Nonetheless, every year on the anniversary of their marriage, Ma gathers her ‘beloved’ family around her for an excruciating, nails-on-a-blackboard-style get-together in which the suspicions, the rivalries and the dislike-verging-on-hatred that simmer inside the individual family members during the year bubble to the surface and spill over into all-out war.

Ma is at the centre of everything that’s rotten about the Taggart family. She controls the family purse strings and, therefore, her three sons. By choosing to remain at the head of the Taggart construction company herself and make her minions dance to her tune, it’s clear she sees herself as the boss of all she surveys. My money, my rules, is how she sees it, and divide and conquer is, seemingly, how she prefers it.

She dispenses insults, barbs and little digs with the same coldly glittering panache with which she might mix you a drink at the family bar. The dialogue is bitchy, quite witty in places and comprises the blackest of black comedy, and the very best lines, of course, all go to the girl with the Bette Davis Eyes, La Davis herself.

Her three sons have all the problems you might expect in a family where the mother is the dominant one, the driving force in their lives. It would be hard for any of them to be truly successful in their lives and happy in their relationships without first getting out from under the thumb of their dreadful mother, whose modus operandi is to ferret out a person’s weak spot and beat them over the head with it until they cry ‘mercy!’

James Cossins (FAWLTY TOWERS, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM) plays the eldest son Henry. He seems like a gentle, sweet man, but he so far has been unable to sustain a romantic relationship and probably never will, not while his malicious mumsy continues to manipulate him regarding his cross-dressing and knicker-nicking tendencies.

Ma alternately shields him from the legal repercussions of his crimes (well, stealing women’s knickers off a clothesline is illegal, isn’t it?) and holds it over him and his brothers as a threat. As in: ‘If you won’t do exactly what I want, I’ll hand poor dear Henry over to the police and he can get treatment for his ‘ailments’ in a mental hospital…!’ The auld bitch. How can she threaten poor dear Henry like that? Poor guy doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.

Terry, the middle son, isn’t up to much. Sure, he’s given his old bag of a mother five grandchildren with his wife Karen, but he gets constantly bawled out by Karen for not standing up to Mrs. Taggart. Karen is a relentless nag.

Watch her in CARRY ON CLEO, giving endless grief to her hen-pecked husband Hengist Pod, played by Kenneth Connor, and you can easily imagine her tearing strips out of Terry too. Terry is not his own man. He gets dominated by his overbearing mother and nagged to death by his wife. I don’t think he’s happy.

Tom, the youngest, is a womaniser who brings a different girl to ‘the Anniversary-with-a-capital-A’ every year. This year he’s brought the pretty blonde Shirley to flaunt in his mother’s face.

There are rather dark sexual undertones in this storyline. Ma Taggart is horribly jealous of anyone who grabs her precious youngest son’s attention, and she’s used to dispatching his girlfriends swiftly before they get their claws into Tom and their feet under the Taggart table.

Old Ma Taggart might have some slight bit of difficulty in dislodging this little lady from out of the family tree. Shirley is determined to be Tom’s wife, and, as she’s pregnant, she might just have more of a chance than any of the others did.

She seems to want to dominate Tom in the same way that his mother does, though, and Tom seems to have a bit more gumption than either Henry or Terry, so he may not tolerate this from Shirley. ‘Out of the frying pan…’

Shirley makes the mistake of trying to ‘stand up’ to Mrs. Taggart. This, as the mouthy Karen could have told her, is a terrible road to go down. No woman will ever be good enough for one of Mrs. Taggart’s precious sons. Even the flawed, broken ones, she wants to keep close to her for ever. That’s probably the way she likes ’em best, to be honest with you.

It’s an unhealthy foursome, Ma Taggart and her three sons, like a stinking pulsating mass of something icky from a science fiction movie that needs to be zapped, incinerated and then scraped away the next morning by the council. And what happens on the night of ‘the Anniversary?’ itself? Well, it’s family-only, I’m afraid. No randomers need apply. Mummy wouldn’t like it…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com