31 Screams in October, Vol. 2, #27: Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)

Posted: October 28, 2015 in Movie Review
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Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)

Director: Seth Holt

Starring: Andrew Keir, Valerie Leon, James Villiers, Hugh Burden, George Coulouris

Seems like you can’t talk about the final resting place of an ancient ruler/deity without the subject of a curse being brought up. Any time someone unearths another of these long-forgotten shrines, if even the slightest of incidents should befall the discoverers of the tomb, there must be a curse involved! Similarly, certain films over the years have been branded with a “curse,” the most infamous being the one attached to “Poltergeist.” Less talked about but perhaps more sinister (if one actually believes in this sort of thing) is the one which followed the production of “Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb,” thus giving the film more of an eerie quality than it would have already created for itself.

A British archaeological team led by Julian Fuchs (Andrew Keir) locate and open the ancient Egyptian tomb of Princess Tera. To their surprise and bewilderment, her corpse is perfectly preserved in all its beauty, save for a missing right hand, severed by her killers those many centuries ago. In London, occurring at precisely the same time is the birth of Fuchs’ daughter, Margaret. Her mother does not survive and, only for an instant, Margaret herself appears to die as well. Years later, the adult Margaret (Valerie Leon), who exactly resembles Princess Tera, experiences disturbing nightmares. All the while, her obsessed father has created a shrine to Princess Tera in his basement, complete with the actual sarcophagus itself. Periodically, Margaret’s dreams will cause her to sleepwalk down to the basement where the body of her sinister duplicate lies.

One of the original expedition’s members, Corbeck (James Villiers), wants to ensure the resurrection of Princess Tera, and Margaret (whose mind is struggling against the Princess’s will) seems willing to help bring her forth. The other members of the expedition team are tracked down and murdered one by one, the tokens they each took from Tera’s tomb relocated to the shrine in Fuchs’ basement. Even Margaret’s boyfriend Tod becomes an unfortunate victim. With everything in place, Margaret and Corbeck begin the ritual to restore Princess Tera. At the last possible moment, Fuchs comes to his senses and helps his daughter stop the ritual, killing Corbeck but resulting in his own death at the hands of a very much alive Tera. The two identical women become locked in a struggle, which ends with Margaret stabbing Tera and the entire house collapsing in on itself. Later, at the hospital, it is revealed that only one person survived. Whether she is Tera or Margaret is unclear, because every part of her body (except for her eyes) is covered in bandages… not unlike a mummy.

The only title in my marathon this month produced by Hammer Films, “Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb” is loosely based on the novel “The Jewel of Seven Stars” by Bram Stoker, he of “Dracula” fame. Just as the characters in the film are affected by their association with the tomb of Princess Tera, so too were some of those who signed on to make the movie. The part of Professor Fuchs was originally given to Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing, who left after only one day due to the death of his wife. Director Seth Holt, who had been in failing health, died five weeks into the six-week shoot, replaced by the uncredited Michael Carreras. Now, of course it’s all plain coincidence, but it makes for a good… albeit macabre and depressing… story.

Disturbing behind-the-scenes happenings aside, the story itself is pretty decent, although it loses a lot of steam in the final act where everything wraps up a bit too predictably. The main reason to watch “Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb” is the devastatingly gorgeous Valerie Leon. My knowledge of the actress’s career is limited, but I am aware that this movie represented a rare starring role for her. It’s a shame she wasn’t called upon more often. Whether it’s her piercing blue eyes or the magnificent wardrobe changes, Ms. Leon is a sight to behold. Princess Tera can be my ruler any day of the week.

  1. Sylvia Williams says:

    Cool!!! I love it that you like an old Hammer horror film and are captivated by the female lead. I’ll have to catch this one sometime. Creepy back story about the real deaths, though, huh?

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