Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MUMMY, THE (1932)

(December 1932, U.S.)

I'm half Egyptian. My mother was born in the city of Cairo before coming to the United States in the early 1960s. I mention this only because other than THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), the black and white classic of THE MUMMY may be about as close to getting back to my so-called "homeland roots" as I'll ever get on film. Though I did actually actually visit Egypt back in 1998. Great trip!

THE MUMMY falls into the mix of all those great Universal horror films that dominated the 1930s during the era of the Great Depression. Interestingly, though, it's my opinion that this film is perhaps the least scary of the entire lot when compared to the likes of FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA. Though in some repeated sequences throughout the film, I can see why this image of Boris Karloff as the ancient re-born mummy would frighten and horrify moviegoers back in the day...

Like I said, this particular horror film is not that frightening, in my opinion. The story itself, however, does intrigue me. In a running time of just seventy-three minutes, there are some complex issues regarding life, death, re-births and ancient Egyptian history and folklore. An ancient Egyptian priest called Imhotep (Karloff) is accidentally revived when an archaeological expedition digs up his mummy. Imhotep had been mummified alive for attempting to resurrect his forbidden lover and princess. Despite the cliches of strict warning not to tempt the fate of ancient awakenings, one of the diggers reads aloud from an ancient life-giving scroll known as the Scroll of Thoth. Imhotep escapes from the archaeologists, taking the scroll, and prowls Cairo seeking the modern reincarnation of his beloved Princess, Ankh-Es-En-Amon (played by Zita Johann). Cut to ten years later, Imhotep is masquerading as a modern Egyptian named Ardath Bey. He calls upon the modern professors of archaeology and shows them where to dig to find Ankh-Es-En-Amon's tomb, and of course, the do find her. Imhotep encounters Helen Grosvenor (also Zita Johann), a woman bearing a striking resemblance to his Princess. Believing her to be Ankh-Es-En-Amon's (that is not an easy name to say!) reincarnation, he attempts to kill her, with the intention of mummifying her, resurrecting her, and making her his bride. She's ultimately saved when she actually remembers her past life and prays to the goddess statue Isis to save her life. The statue emits a beam of light that destroys the Scroll of Thoth, thereby reducing Imhotep to dust and destroying him forever. Forever? Not really. How many MUMMY films did they make in the 1940s? Did Abbott and Costello not meet the Mummy in the 1950s? How many Brendan Fraser MUMMY films were made since 1999? Yeah...sure...the Mummy is definitely dead...about as dead as Jason Voorhees ever was!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Imhotep: "You will not remember what I show you now, and yet I shall awaken memories of love...and crime...and death."

1 comment:

  1. I watched this on laser disc after my daughter replaced my nonfunctioning player with one she found on eBay. Eerie and atmospheric but not particularly scary.