Here's a real obscurity, although it was apparently
released on video in an English language version, which combines sleaze,
sexual torture of beautiful women, vampirism, a mad scientist and a
revived mummy in a period setting.
Despite the title, the mummy does not look Egyptian
with his longish black hair, golden quarter shirt and matching skirt. He
appears more like an Aztec or other Central/South American Native
priest. He's also not bandaged like the traditional Universal Pictures
mummies, but rather perfectly preserved when brought to our mad doctor
(Jorge Rigaud). The scientist uses an electrical stimulation device to
revive the specimen. The very first action the mummy takes is to suck
the blood of a wound the doctor's brutish assistant has just suffered.
And so it goes... The rest of the film is basically a series of
recapitulations. See the mummy torture a beautiful peasant woman with a
hot poker, sexually molest her, suck her bloodless and send out for the
Rigaud and his stooge are somehow mentally controlled by the ancient
vampire. The scientist is locked in a cage while the assistant goes out
searching for fresh blood. These stalk and abduct sequences are
beautifully filmed in Van Gogh-style swathes of color, as the brute
pursues a series of local femmes through shimmering fields of grain.
Much of the film is devoid of dialogue and the iris in-iris out segues
help create the look and feel of a silent film melodrama. Once the hosts
are delivered, our parasitical Egyptian strips off their peasant dresses
only to find billowing blouses under which are more troublesome undies.
He never seems to be able to get them nude! That's an indication that
this is the "covered" Spanish version. Later there's a reprise
which does reveal a victim's nipples at the bottom frame line, this may
be due to sloppy editing or point to earlier, more explicit scenes which
have been excised. It would be interesting to have the English language
version (if one is extant) for comparison sake.
This is all related in flash-back by Rigaud to Egyptologist Barton
(Frank Brana). Barton is first seen galloping through the local
farmlands on horseback, then interrogating an elderly woman and a young
maiden who appears to be in a trance. Barton
arrives at the scientist's castle to discover Rigaud whipping the
Mummy's severed hand, now displayed on the wall as a trophy. The
scientist also appears to be a kind of wizard, transforming a rod into a
serpent to impress Barton. After Rigaud finishes
his repetitive narrative he retires for the evening. Barton has a dream
[?] where he follows the suddenly animated hand to its former owner.
What it all means is up to the viewer. The untranslated Spanish dialogue
may make the film seem more obscure than it actually is to a non-Spanish
speaker like myself.
Succulently lensed by Raymond Heil [the cinematographer of the infamous
LAS RATAS NO DUERMEN DE NOCHE] with a particular sensitivity to the
possibilities of early morning light--canary yellows, delicate violets
and surging crimsons are delightfully abundant in both the interiors
(Spain) and the exteriors (France).
One can perhaps read this as an allegory of sado-masochistic tendencies
in gothic science fiction or perhaps a reflection on the insular tendencies
of Spanish folklore. Maybe it's just a well-filmed sexploitation
programmer intended for undiscriminating audiences. The pace drags
throughout and Marti doesn't appear to be another Mario Bava, despite
his pictorial talents. As far as I can make out this appears to be his
last feature film. Rigaud would be a familiar face in numerous Italian
giallo mysteries while Brana kept busy as a walk-on-and-get-shot
functionary in many Spaghetti Westerns. Julio Salvador and Vincent
Didier adapted Didier's story.
Reviewed by Robert Monell, 2002