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‘The Mummy’ & ‘Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell’ (Limited Edition Review)

5 min read

Second Sight

This month sees two releases from that are perhaps a little more niche than some of their more recent output.

Coming out on August 29th, are Limited Edition Blu-rays of classics, (1959) and and the Monster from Hell (1974). Both films star at different stages of his career, and despite being from the same studio, they tell two very different stories.

The Mummy sits clearly alongside other films with the same name. Our intrepid archeologist John Banning (Peter Cushing), aided by his father and Uncle, uncover the tomb of an Egyptian Queen. What they don't account for, is her tomb being shared by another mummy, that of her priest and lover, who is cursed with eternal life so he can protect her from any invading grave robbers. The Mummy, Kharis () towers over those he attacks, under the instruction of a man who still follows his ancient religion, Mehemet Bay (George Pastell).

The similarities to later films are clear, clearly the plot was lifted from this to create the 1999 adventure film that many of us in our 30s grew up with. But there are uncanny images from earlier films too. Functionally, Kharis himself seems lifted from the Somnambulist who resides in The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, and his muddy hulking appearance and incredible strength seem more akin to a Golem than the Mummies we are used to seeing on screen.

Despite its age however, it is a brilliantly fun watch. Cushing oozes charisma, and Lee is as always fascinating. Managing to portray a full range of emotion through the tiny slits left open for his eyes. His physicality is used to full effect, and when he comes crashing through the window towards our heroes, The Mummy is genuinely scary.

stars Cushing but not Lee. And Cushing himself is noticeably older. It is also the 7th of the Hammer Frankenstein films, the 6th with Peter Cushing. But it doesn't seem to matter too much if you've seen the previous iterations.

A young Doctor, Simon Helder (Shane Briant), is attempting to recreate his idol Frankenstein's earlier experiments. Unfortunately his continued attempts to acquire corpses from the local cemetery bring him to the attention of the authorities, and he finds himself incarcerated in an institution.

Second Sight

When Helder gets there he finds that the institution's Doctor is Victor Frankenstein himself, and it is soon revealed that his experiments are still happening. Aided by the neglectful lack of oversight by the hospital warden.

The two doctors begin to work together, creating a monster made up from various other patients, chosen for their particular skills and attributes. This giant hulking creature, played by the guy in the Darth Vader suit, David Prowse, is as always not really the monster at all. The monster is Doctor Frankenstein, and his continued hubris, arrogance and obsession.

Helder gradually begins to realise the error of his own experiments, and the challenge of controlling a sentient creature who knows nothing but pain.

You'd expect the 7th film in a series to have taken some steps to do something different with the story, but really it is a rehash of the original story and the original themes. Perhaps this would seem repetitive if each film follows the same pattern, but watched for its own merit there is plenty to justify it.

Cushing is once again the highlight. His entire physicality is opposed to that in The Mummy. His posture is more hunched, and his face is greyed to echo his internal darkness. He doesn't feel like a hero here, which is hard to imagine having seen the earlier performance. It's really worth watching both films together, purely to see the epic scope of Cushing's range as a performer.

Both discs boast an excellent selection of bonus features, all of which are what make these sets really worth seeking out. The Mummy has a selection of documentaries that go into the history of Hammer Studio; while Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is more focused on that film in particular and the director of both, . Both discs also have an exploration of the use of music in both films from David Huckvale. These are very in depth and explain the use of chords in each film and what their function is. It's a very niche inclusion, however if it doesn't go completely over your head it's very interesting!

Ultimately, these releases probably won't be for everyone. But if you are a fan of these sorts of films they are brilliant. Not a megabyte on the disc is wasted, almost like they were put together by Frankenstein himself.

The Mummy Special Features 

  • Main feature presented in original UK theatrical aspect ratio 1.66:1 and alternative full frame1.37:1
  • New audio commentary by film academic Kelly Robinson
  • Archive audio commentary by Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby
  • An Appreciation of The Mummy by David Huckvale
  • The Music of The Mummy
  • Unwrapping The Mummy
  • The House of Horror: Memories of Bray
  • The Hammer Rep Company
  • Original Promo Reel
  • Still Gallery

Limited Edition Contents

  • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Soft cover book with new essays by Kat Ellinger, Lindsay Hallam and Kevin Lyons plus production stills
  • 5 collectors' art cards

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell Special Features 

  • Main feature presented in original UK Theatrical aspect ratio 1.66:1 and alternative full frame1.37:1
  • New audio commentary by film academic Kat Ellinger
  • Archive audio commentary by Shane Briant, Madeline Smith and Marcus Hearn
  • An Appreciation of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell by David Huckvale
  • The Music of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell
  • Taking Over the Asylum
  • Charming Evil: Terence Fisher at Hammer
  • Stills Gallery

Limited Edition Contents

  • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Soft cover book with new essays by Kevin Lyons, Kelly Robinson and Emma Westwood plus production stills
  • 5 collectors' art cards

 

Limited Edition Blu-rays of The Mummy and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell are released by Second Sight on August 29th