Pharaoh’s Curse (1957)

*. Pharaoh’s Curse is a B-picture that was shot in six days. A team of archaeologists dig up a tomb in Egypt, setting free an ancient evil. It’s a mummy movie where the mummy comes to life by possessing the body of one of the team’s native grunts and turning him into a blood-sucking creature that ages at an advanced rate. He looks like an old man wandering around, apparently lost, in his night clothes.
*. That’s it in a nutshell. There were, however, a couple of things I found interesting that might be worth teasing out.
*. In the first place, the love interest, Sylvia (Diane Brewster), is a married woman who has grown tired of her archaeologist husband and is more than ready to step into the strong arms of Captain Storm (the kind of military stud whose uniform stays clean and neatly pressed even after crossing Death Valley). I thought that rather progressive for 1957.
*. What struck me the most however was the resemblance to The Thing from Another World and Carpenter’s The Thing. I’ll admit it’s not a close resemblance, but still the group of (male) scientists digging up a monster that proceeds to possess and then kill them off one by one does register as echo. Or maybe it was just the image of the team standing around the empty sarcophagus like it’s the giant block of ice that’s brought back to the base camp. Was The Thing really a mummy movie then?
*. Bad enough that the doctor is given a name like Faraday, but he also has to deliver some truly groan-worthy lines. “As a doctor, as a man of science, my knowledge is limited to things physiological. I’m afraid superstition is out of my field.” “You can fight known things. But I don’t know how to fight the unknown.”
*. I’m not sure I ever understood the plot that well. Simira (Ziva Rodann) is a cat goddess in human form, so does that mean Numar was never her brother? Does her brother become the new guardian of the tomb? Does he die at the end or just go back to sleep?
*. Questions like this may not be fair given how slapdash and cheap a production it is. There have been movies that cost a lot more that made a even less sense. There also isn’t much of a climax, and what we do get comes with another seven minutes of film left to run (which is a lot given the conventions of the time and the fact that it’s only just over an hour long). Still, the story manages to get Sylvia’s husband out of the way so we can at least feel better about who she’s going home with.

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