Curse of King Tut's Tomb DVD

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 16:01

In November 1922, Howard Carter (Robin Ellis) thanks to his backer, Lord George Carnarvon (Harry Andrews), makes an extraordinary discovery in the Valley of the Kings ...  the sacred burial ground of the pharaohs, near Luxor. It is the tomb of the frail young king, Tutankhamen (Tut-Ench-Amun). But the rumour of an ancient curse, of impending grief and disaster, threatens to mar their triumph...

An extraordinary acting line-up, including Tom Baker, Eva Marie Saint, Wendy Hiller, Angharad Rees, Patricia Routledge, and the truly scene-stealing Raymond Burr, feature in this lavish 1980 HTV telefilm drama, lensed on location in Egypt. It was adapted by Herb Meadow (creator and writer of Have Gun - Will Travel), some of his last credited writing work, from Barry Wynne’s bestselling “Behind the Mask of Tutankhamen”.

King Tut's Tomb - Get The Keys To The Chamber on DVDA dedicated army of over 70 actors and technicians travelled to the Valley of the Kings to make the film, but this stunning, highly authentic production, allocated a then-unheard of for TV budget of over two million pounds, was not without its own drama.

Indeed, in the most frightening in a series of on-set incidents, Ian McShane, who was originally cast as Carter, narrowly escaped serious injury when a car he was in plunged over a 40 foot cliff, leaving several cast and crew members decidedly uneasy about the truth behind the legend of the ancient curse.

The film was directed by English-born Philip Leacock, who had made his name as a producer and director Stateside. From early productions such as Route 66, The Defenders, Rawhide, The Wild Wild West and Cimarron Strip, he would occasionally pop back to the UK for the odd movie or ‘telly’ – the Danger Man episode “The Colonel’s Daughter” was one he directed. He would go on to direct substantial numbers of episodes for the likes of Hawaii 5-0, Falcon Crest, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, and even The Waltons (which he was also working on at the time “King Tut” was made). There’s even a brace of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episodes in his Directing portfolio.

The film’s producer was Peter Graham Scott, one of the iconic figures in Cult TV.  He directed an episode of The Prisoner, “The General”, as well as a quartet of The Avengers and seven episodes of Danger Man, before going on to produce (and on many occasions direct) the likes of Mogul, The Onedin Line, Quiller, Children of the Stones, Follow Me, The Doombolt Chase, and Into The Labyrinth.

The composer for the film was Gil Melle, famous for the themes from Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, as well as a whole host of other TV movies.

All in all, it’s easy to forget that this production is now over 30 years old; we had Indiana Jones come along the year after, in 1981, to completely redraw the expectations that people had for adventures involving lost treasures, curses and adventures of discovery.  This is a far more cerebral story, relying on fear in the mind rather than on the screen.  That said, those who saw the giant black scorpions in the film, big enough to see off a bull mastiff, never really forgot them!

To a man (and woman), the performances from the cast are believable, and their fear is tangible; after all, their characters were from a time when superstitions still reigned supreme, and discovery of such treasures, well, surely no good could would come from them?

If nothing else, Doctor Who fans should be securing a copy to see how Tom Baker was going about preparing himself for bowing out from playing the famous Time Lord, which would happy early on in the following year.

 “The Curse of King Tutankhamen's Tomb” has a running time of 80 minutes approx, a ‘PG’ certificate, and a RRP of £13.27, exclusively available for less at




Robin Ellis as Howard Carter

Eva Marie Saint as Sarah Morrissey

Raymond Burr as Jonash Sabastian

Harry Andrews as Lord George Carnarvon

Wendy Hiller as Princess Vilma

Angharad Rees as Lady Evelyn Herbert

Tom Baker as Hasan

Barbara Murray as Giovanna Antoniella

Faith Brook as Lady Almina Carnarvon

Patricia Routledge as Posh Lady

John Palmer as Fishbait

Darien Angadi as Ahmed Nahas

Rupert Frazer as Collins

Rex Holdsworth as Doctor

Stefan Kalipha as Daoud

Andy Pantelidou as Lieutenant

Alfred Hoffman as Stallholder

Paul Scofield as Narrator

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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