The Mummy (1959)

mummy poster 1959 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

One of the better Mummy movies, great make-up on monster

Still not as threatening as other monsters

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Mummy

Studio:  Hammer Films

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  August 1, 1959 (Japan)/September 25, 1959 (UK)/December 16, 1959 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

mummy 1959 peter cushing

Can he uncover the secrets of the Mummy’s Tomb!?!?!

Archaeologists John Banning (Peter Cushing), his father Stephen (Felix Aylmer), and his uncle Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) are on the trail of the legendary tomb of Princess Ananka.  When they discover the hidden tomb and enter it, a warning from Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) is ignored…and the curse is unleashed!  The mummy Kharis (Christopher Lee) has been awakened and Mehemet Bey is set to get revenge against the intruders that have raided the tombs of his people.  The fury of the mummy cannot be stopped!

Directed by Terence Fisher, The Mummy is a Hammer horror movie.  The film was released as a double billing with The Bat or Curse of the Undead in the United States.

Mummies were never my thing.  I didn’t find them scary and they seemed rather unthreatening in their lurching and mysticism.  That being said, The Mummy is one of the better mummy movies that has a monster worthy of being a threat.

I bet mummies have to worry about how to keep their whites white

The movie largely is an adaptation of The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb by Universal and it is a pretty traditional Mummy story.  Archeologists enter an Egyptian tomb and are cursed…leading to death and madness at the hands of a mummy.  Also like many of these type of movies, the mummy is being controlled by someone from Egypt and has found a doppelganger of the person that he loved in ancient Egypt.  I will say there is an interesting discussion within the movie about the British Empire’s cultural appropriation of riches and artifacts from Egypt and other countries…something that is still being dealt with and argued about today.

The cast is good.  You have the classic Hammer actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the prime roles.  Lee is a good mummy that does lurch and stumble, but he also has some quicker and more dangerous movement (also aided by Lee’s 6’ 5” height).  Cushing does the scientist well and that is why it so often fell to him.  Yvonne Furneaux plays the love interest while George Pastell plays the Mummy’s controller Mehemet Bey.

the mummy 1959 christopher lee make-up

Dammit…I’ll never get back to sleep

The thing that stands above a lot of the other mummy movies is the costume design.  While I love the original Boris Karloff make-up for the Universal Mummy, we didn’t get to see the Mummy much in bandages.  Here, the bandages never come off and he becomes this dark and dirty monster that feels threatening and dangerous…plus he has great piercing eyes.

The mummy is a pretty traditional horror monster and the film plays out in a traditional way…so don’t expect a lot of surprises from The Mummy.  There is a bit more ferocity and danger in this mummy that I feel was lacking from the Universal pictures (ironically my favorite was one of the later pictures that this one closer adapts).  With the success and acclaim of this version, I’m surprised Hammer didn’t spin it off into more sequels like their Dracula and Frankenstein films…the mummy almost has more reason to return.

Related Links:

The Mummy (1932)

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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