Color, 1973, 91 mins. 35 secs. / 89 mins. 19 secs.
Directed by Carlos Aured
Starring Paul Naschy, Jack Taylor, María Silva, Helga Liné, Luis Davila, Rina Ottolina
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Vellavision, Llamentol (DVD) (Spain R2 PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Made The Mummy's Revengeat the height of actor, writer, and The Mummy's Revengeoccasional director Paul Naschy's productivity and international popularity, The Mummy's Revenge (originally La venganza de la momia) is a colorful and very atmospheric spin on the mummy formulas established first by Universal in the '30s and '40s and tweaked later in blazing color by Hammer in the '60s. The mummy formula had pretty much run dry after Hammer's bandage-free Blood from the Mummy's Tomb in 1971, but Naschy's enthusiasm for tackling all of the major movie monsters was bound to get to this one sooner rather than later anyway. Shot in Techniscope and mimicking the saturated look of the Hammer films right from its ancient Egyptian opening, it's an accomplished feature for director Carlos Aured fresh off his auspicious debut with the Naschy favorite Horror Rises from the Tomb. Unfortunately it's been outrageously difficult to see in decent condition for decades for most English-speaking viewers, a situation finally corrected on Blu-ray to the relief of Naschy fans everywhere.

In typical fashion, we meet Naschy in multiple incarnations in this film starting off with Amenhotep, a ruthless Egyptian pharaoh who ends up incurring so much wrath from his citizens that he ends up being paralyzed by a drugged drink and has to watch the slaughter of his beloved, Amanra (Ottolina). Centuries later his mummy ends up in the hands of married archaeologists Professor Nathan Stern (Spanish horror regular Taylor) and Abigail (Silva) back in London, which of course leads to the bandaged relic springing to The Mummy's Revengelife thanks The Mummy's Revengeto the machinations of evil aristocratic cultist Assad Bey (Naschy again) and the cunning Zanufer (the always welcome Liné). The body count quickly rises with heads getting squashed and an odd mold left on the throats of victims, leaving Stern and Abigail to sort through the mystery -- while the mummy develops a fixation on Helen (Ottolina again) who, in tried and true mummy fashion, bears a more than passing resemblance to someone from his past and can serve as a vessel to bring her back to life.

Opulent, violent, and quite ambitious by Spanish horror standards at the time, The Mummy's Revenge is a fine example of Naschy's appeal as he gets to strut his stuff both in and out of his moldy bandages (complete with one of the spookier mummy makeup jobs on his face). Of course the leading man is the focus for the most part, but Liné also commands the screen with her usual imperious, striking presence and once again proves her skill at playing wonderful villains. The period setting also makes for plenty of eye candy, with the clothing and sets making this one of the classiest of all Naschy films without sacrificing any of the gruesome thrills (with some, like a skull smushing, still looking pretty gruesome today).

One of the more elusive Naschy films for many years outside of terrible quality versions (many taken from a quasi-PD Sinister Cinema VHS or an earlier one from Unicorn, both heavily cropped), this one has The Mummy's Revengemostly circulated in edited TV prints or Spanish DVDs (in various iterations since 2009) featuring the Spanish and English tracks (with no sub The Mummy's Revengeoptions) for the standard Spanish edition, running at PAL speed of course. The 2019 Blu-ray edition from Scorpion Releasing offers two versions; it was common practice to shoot Spanish horror films in clothed and unclothed versions for the respective Spanish and international markets, and while that may have been the case here during production, some scenes that would seem to be unclothed candidates have never materialized. However, one scene involving the mummy crashing in on a pair of newlyweds around the 41-minute mark is missing from the Spanish version, so you get the option of watching either cut on this disc. The longer version is a composite mostly from the excellent HD scan of the Spanish source with a lower quality one sourced for the extra bit, viewable in either Spanish or English DTS-HD MA mono tracks. The Spanish track is quite a bit more robust than the English one (which his pretty flat and has an on and off fluttering noise), so that default is preferable unless you really love that English dub (which is understandable with all the extra goofy mummy sound effects). The English subtitles are accurately translated from the Spanish track, so it's also fun to see how it compares to the English dub throughout. The slightly shorter English theatrical cut is also offered in pristine quality all the way through, albeit only with the inferior English dub (so you can basically skip it).

A new audio commentary by Troy Howarth is, as usual, an upbeat and appreciative listen as he puts this in context with Naschy's output, touches on the mystery of the The Mummy's Revengefilm's soundtrack (largely assembled from CAM library tracks and featuring a surprise cameo by Carlo Rustichelli's theme for The The Mummy's RevengeWhip and the Body), the weird pronunciation of "papyrus" in the English version, the challenge of identifying some of the dubbing artists, and the backgrounds of the actors (including a wild connection to Lionel Richie's "All Night Long!"), just for starters. The fullscreen English trailer is also included ("Science stimulated by racial fanaticism motivating chilling situations giving continuity to a supernatural film!") touting star "Paul Naschi," followed by bonus trailers for Fury of the Wolfman and The Hanging Woman. The reverse side of the sleeve also features liner notes by Mirek Lipinski, who sketches out the unusual nature of the parties backing the film to put together its comparatively higher budget and the connections between some of the actors in the film.

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Reviewed on July 24, 2019