“This force may have us trapped — but it fascinates me; it’s part of me!”
Twenty years after an expedition to Egypt, an archaeologist (Andrew Keir) gives his daughter (Valerie Leon) a ring from a mummified sorceress named Tera (also Leon), hoping it will protect her from Tera’s supernatural forces — but when Keir’s expedition mates begin dying off, he learns that an ambitious colleague (James Villiers) will stop at nothing to secure Tera’s soon-to-be-awoken powers for himself.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Egypt and Egyptology
Bond girl Valerie Leon’s bodacious bust:
… is truly the main draw of this silly but atmospherically staged Hammer Studios horror film, which was infamously plagued with production issues: Peter Cushing pulled out one day into filming when his wife was diagnosed with emphysema, then director Seth Holt died on-set five weeks into the six-week filming schedule. DVD Savant writes that this film has “sharply divided horror fans over the years, with most finding it confusing and dull, while a few passionate defenders have hailed it as an underappreciated gem.” He goes on to assert that it suffers from “a script that is both confusing and uninvolving” — a point I would agree with. He writes:
[The film’s] greatest weakness is its failure to make Tera a compelling villain. All we know about her is that she wields great supernatural power, and kills anyone who gets in her way. What are her larger aims? What did she do to make the priests fear her? What is the significance of the torn throats on her victims? Without understanding her motivations, goals, powers or background, Tera becomes a mere abstract concept (Queen of Evil), and not a character. Consequently, it is difficult to find her very menacing or even interesting.
Indeed, if Leon herself weren’t so bewitching to look at, this film would be even more of a clunker (albeit an ambitious one).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Valerie Leon as Margaret/Tera
- Some effectively staged, chilling scenes
No, though I suppose it’s worth a look if you’re curious.