Set in 1902 in Cairo during the British occupation of Egypt, this begins with Egyptians rioting in the streets and throwing a brick through the window of the British headquarters. So what has angered them? Well, it turns out the Brits arranged for an archaeological expedition exploring an ancient king's tomb without first getting permission. Two survivors from the riots, one of whom had his tongue cut out and then fed to him, manage to make it back to warn the higher-ups of what's going on. Colonel Cross (Ralph Clanton) enlists the aid of one of his finest men, Captain Storm (Mark Dana), to head to the Valley of the Kings the following morning to stop the expedition so the superstitious locals will stop attacking them. He's given just two other men, Sgt. Smolett (Terence de Marney) and Sgt. Gromley (Richard Peel), to accompany him on their long journey because that's all the men they can afford to lose at the moment. Also joining them will be Sylvia Quentin (Diane Brewster), who's just flown in from the U.S. to join her archaeologist husband Robert (George N. Neise), the expedition leader. The four take an alternate route through the desert (on horses, not camels!) so they won't be detected. As they camp out for the night, they get a mysterious and unexpected visitor...
After night falls, Egyptian beauty Simira (played by Israeli-born Ziva "Shapir" / Rodann) shows up at their camp. She claims to be alone and that she's from a mountain village hundreds of miles away but has traveled all the way there by foot. She also happens to be headed to the exact same place they are: the tomb of King Rahateb, to locate her missing brother Numar (Alvaro Guillot). Simira even offers to show them a shortcut. However, her suspicious story and strange behavior creates enough doubt ("If you ask me, that beautiful mirage is a walking nightmare!") to where they first decline her offer, thinking she may trying to trick them into an ambush.
The next morning, one of their horses has vanished and Simira's bizarre behavior continues. She doesn't sleep the entire night, refuses food and water and refuses to even ride on a horse; instead opting to speed walk behind their caravan. The team's water and food supplies disappear and a usually-reliable oasis where previous travelers generally stop has completely dried up. When they camp out for the night, Sylvia is stung on the arm by a scorpion and falls ill due to the poison. Now they'll be forced to let Simira lead the way.
Meanwhile, at King Rahateb's tomb, Robert and four of his colleagues - wary pipe-puffer Walter Andrews (Ben Wright), rational Dr. Michael Farraday (Guy Prescott), drunk Claude Beauchamp (Robert Fortin) and translator Hans Brecht (Kurt Katch) - have located the king's sarcophagus. Despite passive protests from Walter and warnings to the tune of "eat of thy flesh" if they disturb Rahateb's sleep inscribed right on top of the coffin, they decide to crack it open and take a gander. Numar, who has accompanied them there as a servant, instantly passes out as soon as they do and then Captain Storm and company show up to crash their party. He orders them to seal up the tomb and return with him to Cairo as soon as Sylvia, who has actually come there to announce to Robert she's planning on divorcing him, recovers from her scorpion sting and physical exhaustion.
We're already halfway through this talky and none-too-exciting movie when we finally get to the mummy stuff. One of the best aspects of this film, which I won't ruin with too much detail, is that it doesn't simply have the mummy rise from its tomb and start attacking. Yes, we get a fairly traditional mummy (with a pretty good make-up design to boot) doing traditional mummy things (like slowly lumbering around tombs, secret passageways and catacombs), but how it comes to life incorporates aspects of rebirth and rapid aging and is fairly original. The revived mummy also isn't dressed up in bandages like your typical mummy and has vampire-like tendencies; sustaining itself by drinking blood. Either human or animal blood will do as Mabel the horse can solemnly attest. Further translations of a tablet found near the grave reveal that all intruders must die before the mummy can be returned to its sarcophagus.
This was made by Howard W. Koch and Aubrey Schenck's short-lived Bel Air Productions, who churned out several dozen features from 1954 to 1958. Their most popular release nowadays is the all-star-cast film noir The Girl in Black Stockings (1957). They also made VOODOO ISLAND (1957), which frequently played on a double bill with Curse and starred Boris Karloff, and THE BLACK SLEEP (1956), which featured a classic genre lover's dream cast consisting of Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. The script was written by Richard Landau (THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT) and there's a Les Baxter score.
A late night TV staple in the 70s, this laid dormant for years until MGM finally unearthed it for DVD release (part of their "Limited Edition Collection") in 2012. Their release print isn't some glorious restoration or anything but it's perfectly watchable.