Well for this week of the Halloween season I decided on embracing some of the old classics and and even older cliche with Universal Sudios’ Mummy films.
Our first fillm,The Mummy starring Boris Karloff was the one that I had been the most looking forward to see. Mostly because I had heard that besides the first couple of minutes it does not involve the usual shambling revenant wrapped in linen.
The story starts in an archeological dig in the mid twenties where the Mummy of Imhotep is discovered (knowing a little bit of ancient Egyptian I have serious problems with the name choice) . When the mummy is accidentally brought to life by the magical scroll of Thoth. It steals the scroll and walks out (driving the poor assistant who did it, mad.
Ten years later Imhotep reappears unwrapped unrecognizable as a local guide, Ardeth Bey, to show the archeologists the location of an undiscovered tomb. It turns out this is the tomb of Imhotep’s lost love, Anck-es-en-Amon (played by the lovely Zika Johann.) He had been buried alive for stealing the scroll of Thoth in order to bring her back to life. This is complicated by her being reincarnated as Helen Grosvenor. (Also played by Johan)
This was a nice fun film. I enjoyed Karlof getting to show off his action abilities. As far as the Universal horror franchises go I won’t call it one of the greats but I certainly enjoyed it.
A couple of years later Universal rebooted with a whole new mummy in The Mummy’s Hand. This time the mummy is Kharis, who is buried alive for stealing sacred Tana leaves. A plant that can be brewed into an elixir which can give the drinker mortality. His tomb is hidden and preserved by a secret and ancient conspiracy.
Centurys later evidence of the tomb are found by are dashing, heroic manly man Archeologist Steve Banning (played by Dick Foran) and his best friend and comic relief Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford) After being stonewalled the curator of the Cairo Museum Andoheb (who just happens to be the high priest of the conspiracy) The manage get funding from a traveling magician, and they go looking for the treasure, accompanied by the magician and his beautiful daughter who thinks they’re swindlers.
Naturally the Andoheb sics Kharis the Mummy on them.
Perhaps I’m guilty of looking at this movie with way too modern eyes, but this film was just dumb.(and bad enough I didn’t bother with the two sequels.) I kept pictureing Steve and Babe as a comic duo and wondering just what Abbot and Costello could add to the joke when they did their spoof of the genre a decade later.
The whole vibe was sexist, racist and patronizing (which I’m sure the creators had no problem with) and don’t get me started on the forrest we see the mummy lurching through in the middle of the desert!