The clash of past, present and cultures in Hammer’s The Mummy (1959)

Glynn, Basil ORCID logoORCID: (2015) The clash of past, present and cultures in Hammer’s The Mummy (1959). In: Hammer Film Productions: A Laboratory for Modern Horror / Le studio Hammer: Laboratoire de l'horreur moderne, 10-12 Jun 2015, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, France. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


The paper discusses The Mummy (Terence Fisher, 1959) and explores Hammer studio’s depiction of one of its most iconic mythical figures – a character that would be reused and reinvented in three of its later films. Part horror and part exotic adventure, the film demonstrates Hammer’s debt to previous American renditions of the Mummy as well as particular British antecedents and British colonial concerns of the late fifties. Unlike Dracula (Fisher, 1958) and The Curse of Frankenstein (Fisher, 1957), The Mummy had no source novel but, like these two, the film exhibited a similar ‘Hammer style,’ took place in the same Victorian era and was equally indebted for its on-screen depiction to the same core production team of Terence Fisher, Jimmy Sangster and Jack Asher. The paper initially investigates The Mummy’s social and historical context and moves on to explore the film’s creation of a credible horrific world that was very much in contrast to Universal’s, who had been previously responsible for a popular cycle of Mummy movies. Unlike Universal, Hammer placed its horrors in period, filmed them in colour and took a more naturalistic, in addition to a more graphically sexual and violent, approach. Hammer presented the ‘undead’ monsters of Universal not in a fog enshrouded Americana but in a world where, just as in the British New Wave that was contemporaneous with The Mummy, violence and desire could be more explicitly shown rather than suggested – a world in which monsters no longer needed to be mythic beings in mythic, expressionistic worlds. Hammer’s decorous nineteenth century Britain is therefore also a focus as an era that could be conveyed as believably haunted.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Media
Item ID: 18058
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Depositing User: Basil Glynn
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2015 09:55
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2019 12:46

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