Thursday, 25 October 2012

Egyptian Interlude - Terrors of the Nile?

Interesting comment from Sam on my Halloween Movie post 'Blood from the Mummy's Tomb'.
What scared at that age was its Ancient Egyptian-ess, in that I didn't know any remedies against anything that came from that era. I vaguely knew about how to avoid/fight vampires, witches and WW2 German and Japanese soldiers, but not what to do about that culture...
I can see how that might have been worrying. But, oddly enough, my own response was the exact opposite. To me there was never anything intrinsically scary about Ancient Egypt except for the mummies, which were magically reanimated corpses. All the other stuff was too alien to be worrying.

And the more I found out about Egypt the more non-threatening it seemed. Here was a culture that valued life so much that its people wanted another go, so to speak, anticipating an afterlife full of the pleasures of this world. They enjoyed food, drink, music, love and friendship, and the good things in general. Their world was sunlit and optimistic. They were obviously a smart, sexy, warm people - I mean, they even wanted their pets to join them in the life to come.

Compare and contrast, as they say, the bright and colourful Egyptian world with the Calvinistic bleakness of damnation. The Christian mythology of most horror films was, for me, infused with a very plausible Northern darkness. I had seen grey, miserable churches all too often, heard the bleak, minatory words of scripture (and the rather unconvincing stuff about love and redemption), read of witch trials and heresy hunts. This was in the DNA of my own culture, and very nasty it was.

Having said that, here's a VHS rip of a TV movie from the Seventies which does its level best to conjure up the darkness of the Egyptians. It's a bit slow and obviously not a big-budget effort, but is a Robert Bloch story. I remember being quite impressed when it was run on ITV in my early teens, and rewatching it - while there are some unintentionally funny moments - it hangs together fairly well. Anyway, let me introduce you to... The Cat Creature!

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