Following “Let’s Talk ‘Dracula’ 1931“, UMU’s Rick re-watched ‘The Mummy’ 1932 and is ready to discuss the original classic starring Karloff The Uncanny!
Watching Universal’s The Mummy for the 3rd time around brought life back into my views of the 1932 original that started it all. I was, as Zita Johann portrayed, hypnotized. I originally watched The Mummy a number of years ago and had mixed feelings. I didn’t care for the film as much as I did the others; I already had Brendan Fraser gunning down a thousand year old hopeless romantic back to his tomb. Giving The Mummy 1932 another chance was the best decision I have made in my horror fan career. Universal meant business when they made this Classic Monster, and boy did they deliver.
Boris Karloff as The Mummy was the best decision Universal could have made when looking into casting. Karloff’s combination of pristine accuracy to his character, with the help of make-up artist Jack Pierce brought Imhotep’s undead appearance to the highest point of purity in this film. With Bela Lugosi paving the way for each of our Classic Monsters with Dracula, Boris Karloff stepped up and dominated the playing field, bringing Universal’s third installment, The Mummy, right on par with its predecessors such as Dracula and Frankenstein.
Following up Dracula with The Mummy was almost surreal for me. Karl Freund was essentially the director of both pictures and I would say each film has their similarities, yet they are very different. Not only do these Classic Monsters have a certain taste in women (the 30’s/40’s damsel in distress) but they both have similar supernatural powers. One specific talent Imhotep and the Count have in common would be the ever entrancing ability to hypnotize. This horror duo, Dracula and The Mummy, have seriously mastered this skill and will not hesitate to make you a potential servant. Just see Dracula’s Renfield and The Mummy’s Nubian.
Unlike our favorite charmer Count Dracula, Undead Priest Imhotep is unearthed, awoken from his eternal sleep and gets a second chance to walk the earth. Imhotep isn’t even that bad of a guy! The only time he becomes physical is when someone blows up his spot which comes later on in the picture in both the museum and house! I think our mummy friend is little misunderstood. Since his awakening, Imhotep gets this crazy idea to find, dig up and resurrect his dead girlfriend Ankh-es-en-amon. Love is what drives this monster. Who can stop true love, right? Well, there’s Edward Van Sloan! Obviously defeating Dracula wasn’t enough for Sloan. This time Sloan plays Dr. Muller. Almost exactly identical to his character Van Helsing in Dracula (save for a pair of glasses), Sloan in a sense, reprises his role as the experienced monster pursuant, being on even ground with our tall, wrinkly, dead eyed mummy.
When talking about Dracula and The Mummy, you can’t leave out our lead female roles. Zita Johann and Helen Chandler have quite a bit in common. They’re strikingly beautiful and can’t help but bring these horror icons to their knees. In The Mummy, Zita Johann as Helen Grosvenor plays the spitting image of our mummy long lost love. Not only this, but her bloodline happens to be a direct descendant of Ankh es-en-amon. Like love at first sight, Imhotep went head over heels and quickly made plans to use Helen as a temporary host body, then sacrifice her, bringing Ankh-se-en-amon once again back among the living. (Okay, maybe he is bad!) Between Helen Chandler and Zita Johann, I can say that Zita truly brought independence to the Universal Monsters women roles by rejecting the mummy’s romantic pursuit and ultimately being the one to defeat Imhotep (with help from the statue of the Goddess Isis), making her one of my all time favorite classic horror female roles.
I have not viewed the 1999 picture in sometime, though it’s in definite need. Even though its been a while, certain shots and dialogue from 1999’s The Mummy are still stuck in my head and find myself reciting lines often. Both movies are in sync with each other, complementing one another to great extents. It was quite warming seeing 1999’s The Mummy pay direct homage to 1932’s original. ’99 definitely holds its own today and will continue to even after the upcoming release of The Mummy 2017.
With Universal reviving The Mummy in 2017, I am actually quite enthused about the idea bringing Tom Cruise to the cast. Cruise’s ability to adapt and create a sense of authenticity and realism to each role given, makes him the top candidate for one of most anticipated horror films to come out in the next few years. I’m truly excited to see how this new adaptation of our beloved mummy will take off, and what tombs it will open in the future. And maybe we’ll even see Cruise take on the role of Edward Van Sloan’s Van Helsing character!
Universal knew what the people of 1932 needed when they released the original The Mummy, making this film the definition of a Horror Classic and will remain for the years to come. The amount of work put into this movie lives up to, and even surpasses modern horror films in almost all departments. I highly recommend this film to anyone with an appreciation for these time-honored pieces of cinema. Sit back, watch, and let The Mummy unwrap a whole new world of Classic Horror once again.
(Rick Vaca – @unclebaphomet)