Normally, I'm not much for mummy movies with gauze-wrapped chaps dragging that one foot across the floor after their reincarnated love, who happens to be too terrified to remember to sprint their ass from the premises before Kharis can slip her a Cosby cocktail, etc., etc. Leave it to Hammer to change all of that with one film, tonight's review, a groovy horrorshow that dusted off archaeological horror with open veins and sex appeal and doubled with the studio's Stevenson gender-bender, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, at the theaters. It would stand as Seth Holt's last directorial credit, dying from a heart attack during the shooting schedule. What this picture really delivers on, is its statuesque brunette star, the breathtaking Valerie Leon, who you'll recall from the Carry On films and things like Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), in a dual role of sorts. Not like it's the first time Hammer rolled out some delectable lens candy to help pitch one of their films though, is it? And more importantly, who's complaining? Not I, sez I.
Demonoid (1981) was never like this! If anyone's looking for me, I'll be dusting those bombers for hidden hieroglyphics.
It would seem that some time during the roaring '20s, Professor Fuchs (Andrew Keir) and his British archaeologist chums are on a quest to uncover the lost tomb of an evil Egyptian queen, who we learn through ancient flashback, doesn't appreciate being laid out in a sarcophagus by her assassins, or her hand chopped off and thrown to the local pack of mangy jackals, as a magical, throat-ripping wind whips up and does in the responsible bastards. Wouldn't you know it, Queen Tera's final resting place is infringed upon by these limey bone-dusters, and sure enough, she hasn't aged a day in several lifetimes. Fuchs takes the entire chamber and its contents back to his flat in London, as part of a creepy basement shrine to the princess, with various priceless artifacts (a skull, a cobra statue, being looked after by other members of the expedition. Wouldn't you know it, Fuchs' daughter, Margaret (Valerie Leon) happens to be a dead ringer for the deceased royalty, and it isn't long before she's being haunted by vivid dreams...or are they lost memories?
Yeah, that's it...do the plums next, baby.
Across the street lurks a mysterious gent who spies on the young woman's every move, and rightfully so, as he's Corbeck (James Villiers), another expedition member looking to resurrect the Queen through Egyptian hoodoo rituals, helping her to retrieve each of her artifacts from the other tomb defilers, and leaving in their stead, many a torn out throat. It turns out Fuchs himself is also pushing for the resurrection, but is unaware that the princess may be as evil as legend would have it, putting his lovely, banana-eating daughter in terrible peril, giving her the queen's own ring from her severed hand, complete with a massive red gemstone that today's hip hoppers might even find a bit too gaudy to display (yeah, right). Even her boyfriend, Tod Browning (!) (Mark Edwards) seems uninterested in her colossal cleavage, ever on display, and more in tune with the nefarious Egyptian plans. Does Tera rise from the world of the dead to once again spread terror among London's posh set? Does Tod not see those earth-shattering bobblers or what? Will Margaret survive to peel another banana, or will her ancestor win out in the end? It's all there for you to discover when you see this one for yourselves.
Oof-ah. This guy's just been E-gypped.
Peter Cushing, originally signed to do the picture, but bowed out after one day when his beloved wife was diagnosed with emphysema. I'm sure Ms. Leon delivers some dialog along the way here, to varying levels of effectiveness, it's just that my attention could well have been drawn to her expressive eyes (while taking a picturesque stroll through Bristol City, mind you, guv' ) the whole damned time. Any repeat viewings will probably go the same way, I'm not ashamed to report, much like my experience when I throw some Lindberg on. Italian tunnel vision, I'm afraid. Don't cry for me, I'll make it somehow. Tonight's movie combines some meaty murders, righteous reincarnation, and ancient weird religious rites a' plenty to good genre effect. It's probably a two Wop interpretation of Bram Stoker's less famous novel overall, but I'll add one for Valerie just the same, in the name of red-blooded males/ true feminists everywhere. Any third wavers that wanna chew me out over that particular opinion can find my e-mail addy on the right side of the page, but go easy on the bikini pics. Have a heart.
I'd unwrap this like it was Big Jim's Laser-vette with flip up hood cannons under the X-mas tree.