This week the long hand of my own history reached out and touched me, a severed hand to be precise.
After nearly 50 years I eventually watched Hammer Film's 1971 classic BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB on the Horror Channel here in the UK. The iconic cinema poster from the time must be the ultimate collectable from the film but I am happy to simply have seen the movie now.
Seeing this pharaoh fest for the first time was a fabulous treat and after half a century tied up a personal loose-end as my grue-filled childhood came full circle.
When I was 11 my Big Bro bought me a book about horror films. It was a softback with monochrome photos and was relatively thin but boy, did it make an impression. Most impressive of all was the cover showing a the severed hand of an ancient Egyptian Queen bearing a huge red ring, the severed hand from Blood From the Mummy's Tomb!
I was immediately propelled back to being 11 in 1971, when the world was full of wonderful monsters and I was discovering them all. I loved that book with a passion and I'm pleased to say it's one of the few things that have stood the ravages of time and escorted me into the future. I still have it next my other old horror film books from my formative years.
Watching the film I was reminded how much I adore Hammer Horrors. I have to be honest and say that the Mummy was never my favourite monster - just too slow to be frightening - but it is still a monster and so gets a shout. Blood From the Mummy's Tomb doesn't really contain any Mummy's. The slumbering Queen is already in the flesh and simply awaiting re-incarnation.
The Queen herself, Tera. was played by the sensational Valerie Leon pictured below, who also doubled as her modern incarnation, the arousingly named Margaret Fuchs. Leon was perhaps the must voluptuous of all the Hammer ladies and in its heyday Hammer's heady cocktail of sex and horror gave Hollywood some proper stiff competition.
There was a time in the late Sixties and early Seventies when young men would heatedly discuss this accolade till their shandy went flat: just who was the most gorgeous girl in horror?
The top 5 contenders for the title were:
1. Valerie Leon
2. Caroline Munro
3. Ingrid Pitt
4. Madeleine Smith
5. Raquel Welch
There were other scream queens like Barbara Steele, Barbara Shelley and Kate O'Mara and they would often bounce in and out of the list as well. Capatin Company advertising at the back of horror comics and The Athena poster shop did a roaring trade in large black and white and color posters of these - and many other film stars. Bedroom walls were plastered with them, especially the Raquel Welch monochrome wonder from the film One Million BC, a desirable collectable in itself nowadays.
Looking them up online I was pleased to see that Valerie, Caroline, Madeleine and Raquel are all still with us and ageing very nicely thank you. Must be all that fresh blood they drank! Sadly, Ingrid Pitt died in 2010 but I was lucky enough to see her at the NEC in the early Noughties. I used to enjoy her Pitt of Horror articles in Model Mart magazine immensely.
Getting back to the film, I suppose I can say that my main collectable from it IS my old horror book with the Queen's detached dexter on the front. I did own a rubber severed hand for many of my tender years and I'm surprises I never thought to put a large red ring in one of its clammy fingers like the one Miss. Leon wore in the flick.
Despite not being able to find any vintage merchandise relating to this ring its comforting to know that its still possible to get hold of a similar scarlet gem to bling-up your horror collection for just a few shakes of a scarab's tail.
During the film an antiquarian called Dandridge gets involved. We see his dusty old office and store room. I was amazed to spot a lamp in there I recognised!
It similar to the one I have in my own dusty office and store. Actually, my bedroom! ha ha
The huge Egyptian knife struck a chord as well. I was enthralled by bladed weapons in 1972/ 73 after seeing some on Kung Fu and the Water Margin on TV. In the movie Andrew Kier of Quatermass and the Pit fame wielded the dagger in a vain attempt to slay Queen Tera.
My own cellar 'dojo' at the time was bristling with swords and ceremonial knives, all of which were decorative fakes I might add! I did collect the odd real one as well like Ghurka Kukri's.
I also couldn't help noticing the similarity of the soundtrack of the film's alleyway scene - shown here via Daily Motion [around 1 hour 8 mins in] to that of the opening titles in the original Captain Scarlet TV series shown below via You Tube.
I'd love to get hold of this Pre-cert VHS video of the film from the early 1980's, especially if I found one slumbering like Nefertiti at a Car Boot sale! Even better would be a Super 8 or 35mm boxed cinefilm version but I'm unsure if one was made. Similarly there is a modern soundtrack CD package but personally I'd be much more enamored with an LP record if such a thing exists.
So, with blood from the Mummy's Tomb on my hands, I'll ponder the small world we frequent, the looping nature of life and the likely look of the film if Peter Cushing had been able to stay.
For a further peek into the sarcophagos, there is a short documentary about the film on You Tube via Cronosmantas.
Have you seen the film readers?