Pyramids of Mars (1975) is the inheritor of not just the
colourful and complex mythology of Ancient Egypt, but a long tradition
of Gothic fiction which emerged during the grip of ‘Egyptomania’ on the
Victorian imagination. The alluring beauty and spectacle of Ancient
Egypt, the late 19th-century flowering of occultism, guilt and anxiety
over the Empire and the British rule of Egypt, and the ancient emphasis
on the afterlife — including the elaborate preservation of the corpse in
the form of the mummy — combined to create stories of the ‘reverse
colonisation’ of Britain and British bodies, minds, and souls.
This heady mixture was reincarnated in the classic Universal movies
beginning in 1932, and reincarnated again by Hammer Horror, whose 1959
remake of The Mummy directly inspired Pyramids of Mars.
An exemplar of the Doctor Who created by producer
Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes, the story pits the
Doctor’s science against a god who’s really an alien, served by mummies
who are really robots, in a struggle for the future of Earth against one
of the series’ most powerful and frightening adversaries, the enemy of
all life: Sutekh the Destroyer.