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Horrors of the Mummy’s Curse: Spanish Style

by Tony Nash

(Euro Witches and Madmen Intermission 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the uncut Spanish language version)

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La Venganza de la Momia (Vengeance of the Mummy/The Mummy’s Revenge) (1975) **** R

Paul Naschy: Pharaoh Amenhotep/Assad Bey

Jack Taylor: Prof. Nathan Stark

Maria Silva: Abigail Stark

Helga Line: Zenoed

Luis Davila: Inspector Taylor

Rina Ottolina: Helen Carter/Amarna the Concubine

Eduardo Calvo: Prof. Sir Douglas Carter

Fernando Sanchez Polack: The High Priest (as Fernando S. Polack)

Written by Paul Naschy (as Jacinto Molina)

Directed by: Carlos Aured

Synopsis: After being overthrown and cursed by his High Priest, the evil Pharaoh Amenhotep vows to return one day to claim his throne. His look-alike descendant Assad Bey goes to London to ensure the Pharaoh’s return happens, and soon a string of murders and sacrifices begin occurring to appease both the Pharaoh and his evil cohorts.

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By the mid 1970’s, the Mummy based Horror films were pretty much at an end, only some small indie productions here and there. Paul Naschy, the Spanish equivalent to Horror icons like Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine, who had played vampires and wolfmen, decided to see if he could rejuvenate the Mummy back into the fray. Naschy, who wrote the screenplay under his birth name Jacinto Molina, decided to dispense with the traditional element of the Mummy being under the control of a mad religious zealot and, like with Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb four years earlier, have the Mummy itself be the primary antagonist. The dedicated followers’ motif is still used, this time the loyalists being the Mummy’s present look-alike descendant and his loyal girlfriend, keen to have the power the Pharaoh can offer them once he is fully risen. Also taken out of the equation is the curse for disturbing the tomb of a mummy and the deaths that will follow of the desecrators, and is replaced with a bizarre love story and a desire of the risen Pharaoh to rule the world once again. Naschy, a fan in his own right of classic Horror, does keep the traditional bandaged Mummy theme going in his film, and in fact has one of the better bandaged mummies since the Hammer’s original Mummy film in 1959. The final result is an interesting new take on the Mummy.

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Naschy and director Carlos Aured, normally known for their fondness for blood, violence and gore, actually tone it down quite a bit for this particular outing. While there are numerous killings, the scenes are relatively quick, and don’t linger on the carnage. The single gore effect in the film is two brief shots of smashed heads, the result of the Pharaoh’s displeasure at none of the selected virgins being an acceptable vessel for the spirit of his lover.

Image result for La Venganza de la Momia 1975

Image result for La Venganza de la Momia 1975

Naschy gets his first chance to sink his teeth into a dual role as both the Pharaoh and his loyal descendent. The Pharaoh is a despot in every sense of the word, loving to inflict pain and suffering on not just his enemies, but his own people as well. Not satisfied with simply ruling the Upper & Lower Kingdoms, and the neighboring Nubians, he’s looking to rule the known world. When his and his loyal Concubine’s blood lust becomes too much, The High Priest to Ra drugs Amenhotep’s wine and orders the despot mummified alive and his Concubine executed. Before the process is finished, the Pharaoh vows his descendants will avenge him and bring him back to life. His sole blood descendant, Assad Bey, is as power hungry as his ancestor and plans to serve his Pharaoh unquestionably. Using the guise of a noted Egyptologist chronicling his country’s history through the various exhibits and museum displays throughout the world, Assad Bey makes sure to use the opportunity at hand. Both Amenhotep and Assad look for the most beautiful women to sacrifice, and soon have both the archelogists who discovered the tomb and the police looking into their actions.

Image result for La Venganza de la Momia 1975

Image result for La Venganza de la Momia 1975

Image result for La Venganza de la Momia 1975

Spanish cinema genre actors Jack Taylor, Helga Line, Eduardo Calvo, Luis Davila, and Rina Ottolina all play their roles well, in spite of the characters being fairly one dimensional. Taylor, Line. And Calvo offer fairly unique distinctions within their parts and have their concerns, loves, and hates when it comes to the events surrounding them. Line is one of the more emotional players who quickly realizes she can’t go through Assad Bey’s plans to aid the Pharaoh in his mission for world domination.

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Now the film does take liberties when it comes to historical figures. There were four Pharaoh’s in ancient Egypt that bore the name Amenhotep, the last one most noted as being the father of Tutankhamen, famously known as Tut, and for having changed his name to Akhenaten mid reign. The film seems to go with the inaugural Pharaoh to hold the name, and while he engaged in many military campaigns, he was nowhere as bloodthirsty as the film claims, though it does accurately depict his having made the Nubian people a part of Egypt. His three namesakes all made monumental contributions to Egypt’s culture in the military, architecture, the arts, and early literature, though the one who self-proclaimed himself Akhenaten would become vilified when he attempted to introduce monotheism as the sole religion of the area.

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While he includes deviations in character motivations and story arc, Paul Naschy’s take on the Mummy franchise still retains many of the trademarks associated with the character, but does in fact put his style into the film. The mix of mystery and mayhem is done very well, and offers a new interpretation the classic story. The acting is very standard for the most of the cast, save for Naschy and Line, but with the wish to do a throwback to the old school style of Horror the use of one-dimensional characters seems appropriate. Surprisingly void of the gore the majority of Naschy’s films, this film’s lack of it works great and adds to the throwback feel, even harkening a little of the Hammer Films.

(I do recommend giving this one a look as it does make some interesting changes to the norm of the Mummy film genre that give it a boost. While it teeters between being low-budget and a “B” Film, Naschy’s script and the acting do add to the intrigue of the film and give it a nice amount of body that keeps the audience interested in the story and action. A good chunk of Naschy, as well as 70’s, Horror fans in general prefer gore in these types of films, this go around that element is absent, and for the better in my opinion. There’s certainly plenty of killing and one disgusting scene, but it’s all quick, and neither Naschy or director Aured go for the shock effect, keeping with the moody and suspenseful atmosphere mummy flicks are known for.  The Blu Ray from Scorpion Releasing offers a fine visual transfer of the film that looks amazing, like it was just made. One scene couldn’t be restored as well as the remainder of the film, but it doesn’t affect the viewing pleasure. The Spanish audio is very crisp, with only minuscule pops here and there. The only flaw is in the subtitle translation of the Spanish track. While the majority of it is fine, there are many errors and misspelling in the first 45 minutes or so, sometimes making it hard to follow. Given that this is Scorpion’s first Spanish language film, they didn’t do too bad, but some improvement wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information (this info is on the real life Pharaohs bearing the same name as Naschy’s character)

Buying option

The Mummy's Revenge

The standard retail version should be available soon

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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