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Banana Time

Banana Time

The last of Hammer’s Mummy films feels less and less like a Mummy movie the more I think about it.  Not that I am thinking about it too much, really.

Based on Bram Stoker’s novel Jewel of the Seven Stars, this movie involves not so much of a mummy’s ancient curse, as it does the tired old Modernist/Spiritualist Experiment to bring down the floating, ancient One.  That star child who has traveled centuries to usher in a time of new morality, that “beyond good and evil” gobbedlygook.  Its a bit of a muddled mess, those reasons, but as an engine for the action it is as good as any.  At least we are spared the undying love hoopla of most Mummy Tales.

The fact that the Mummy, in this case, is a perfectly perserved priestess, undermines the whole Mummyness…But the fact that the ancient priestess is played by a nearly nude Valerie Leon, I suppose we can, erm, overlook this?

The whole plot revolves around reincarnation.  Leon plays a woman who died at birth but was brought back to life by this Mummy Spirit.  How the stars have all aligned, like they were when Princess Mummy was alive, and there is something about four tomb objects that need to be collected from the various members of the expedition that uncovered the ancient tomb in modern times.

There is something, also, about a chopped off hand, a big red ring, and screaming that causes car crashes.  Oh which reminds me, Leon’s boyfriend’s name is Tod Browning.  Henyh.

The procurement of these tomb talisman makes for the bulk of the gore and horror.  Standard fare, really, petrified old archeologists attacked by invisible cats, shadow snakes, and laughing hyenas.  All their deaths presaged by howling, blustery winds and darkened sky thunder claps.  There is the straight jacketed loony tune, a dithering professor type with a young buxom secretary, the freaky psychic, and the long over-coated cane carrier, who slicks his hair back with greasy evil.

At the center of all this is Valerie Leon, usually tossing and turning with bad dreams, her lacy nightie heaving.  Or there is Valerie Leon running through the underbrush in a wispy nightgown, her basooombas bouncing in the slow motion trot.  Or there is Valerie Leon emerging from the shadows to stare with her icy cold eyes at some doomed old person.

Why she needs to show up is sort of a mystery, since she is never there for the throat gouging kills, nor does she retrieve the talisman to take it back to the basement tomb.  Its strange and somewhat mysterious, actually.

Not now, I am busy.

Still the movie was great fun to watch, in part, because Leon is by turn wooden and engaging.  The camera likes her, but does not love her, so there is a slight awkwardness to each scene.  It is as if she got all the action ques a few seconds after all the other actors.

The ending is a nice visual joke which I think purposefully pokes fun at the lack of the traditional mummy in this mummy flick. Overall, good show.

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