Hammer's fourth and final Mummy movie dispenses with the bandage-clad baddy altogether in favour of a buxom Egyptian queen preserved in a state of suspended animation as she awaits her rebirth.
The statuesque Valerie Leon (a familiar face from the Carry On… films) stars as both the ancient queen Tera and her uncanny double Margaret, who was born at the precise moment her father (Andrew Keir) first discovered Tera's tomb during an archaeological expedition. Years later, when other members of the trip start dying in mysterious circumstances, it looks like the predictions of Tera's rebirth are true – but how does Margaret fit into her evil scheme?
Based on Bram Stoker's 1903 novel The Jewel of the Seven Stars, Hammer's Blood from the Mummy's Tomb is an interesting twist on the genre that never quite lives up to its ambitions. Part of this may well be down to the troubled production which saw Peter Cushing leave the film after only a single day due to his wife's illness, and then director Seth Holt passing away from a heart attack a week before the shoot was due to wrap (producer Michael Carreras stepped into the role to complete the production).
However, as messy as Blood from the Mummy's Tomb is in places (does anyone believe that the fate of Mark Edwards's character as it appears in the film is anything other than making the most of the material to hand?), it still conjures up a compelling atmosphere of dread that makes it all feel that much more unsettling. Meanwhile, Leon perfectly embodies Hammer's trademark mix of sex and horror, while also bringing genuine emotional and psychological complexity to her performance.
It's also a damn sight more enjoyable than that recent Tom Cruise movie, too.
Picture: While previous DVDs have framed the film at 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios, this Blu-ray presents it at 1.66:1. While this will no doubt lead to all manner of arguments among the online cognoscenti about which is really correct, to our eyes the framing of the Blu-ray looks perfectly acceptable. The restoration itself is also exquisite, revealing plenty of intricate textures and delivering a rich colour palette.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 dual-mono soundtrack has been cleaned up beautifully and handles the fairly modest mix of dialogue, Foley effects and Tristram Cary's score with ease. No complaints, but nothing particularly special either.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: An 18-minute featurette with input from actress Valerie Leon and Hammer experts Jonathan Rigby, Alan Barnes, John J. Johnston and Kevin Lyons fills you in on the film’s production history. Sadly, there’s no sign of the interview featurette, stills gallery, radio spots or trailer that have appeared on the film’s two previous UK DVD releases.
Extras rating: 1/5
We say: Hammer's confused but enjoyable twist on the Mummy genre scrubs up very nicely in HD. It’s just a shame about the missing extras.
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, Studiocanal, Region B BD, £23
HCC VERDICT: 3/5
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