Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A review of "The Mummy" (1932)

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A ‘Classics’ review of “The Mummy” (1932)

By: Brian Cotnoir

I can’t tell you all how much I enjoy the “Universal Horror Monsters”.  They are one of the essential pillars of great Horror films.  Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, the list just goes on and on.  I got into the Universal Horror Monsters after watching Bela Lugosi in the original “Dracula” film (and I strangely enough got interested in Bela Lugosi after watching Edward D. Wood Jr.’s “Glen or Glenda”).  So I’ve always had a soft spot for Bela Lugosi, but to be honest I never was that into Boris Karloff.  Then I saw “The Black Cat” and I became more interested in checking out his works.  For those of you who live under a rock, Boris Karloff is known most famously for being the actor who played the monster in the original “Frankenstein” film.  I was going to review that, but one can be said about “Frankenstein” that hasn’t already been said, so I decided to review one of his less-popular (shall we say) monster movie roles and I decided to review “The Mummy”.                    

    So “The Mummy” Starts off Egypt in 1921 in Egypt.  Sir Joseph Whemple and one of his colleagues uncover the mummy of Imhotep.  What Sir Joseph and his colleagues find most unsettling is that Imhotep does not have any surgeon scars on his corpse, leaving them to suspect that he may have been embalmed and entombed alive as a sort of punishment.  After Sir Joseph’s assistant reads from the forbidden “Scroll of Thoth” Imhotep comes back from the dead and takes the Scroll of Thoth before disappearing.  Ten Years pass and Sir Joseph’s son, Frank, has followed in his father’s footsteps and is on an archeological dig of his own in Egypt.  A mysterious stranger by the name of Ardath Bey tells Frank and his colleagues of a supposed un-opened tomb of the Egyptian Princess Ankh-es-en-amon.  Frank and his colleagues discover the princesses’ tomb and have her body and other treasures brought to the Museum in Cairo.  Ardath Bey (SPOILERS!)is actually the resurrected mummy of Imhoteph and Ankh-es-amon was his lover over 3,700 years ago who he tried to bring back from the dead, but is unable too.  Imhotep comes across a woman, named Helen Grosvenor, who is half-British and half-Egyptian, and bears a striking resemblance to Ankh-es-en-amon.  Imhotep will stop at nothing to make Helen his bride, but Frank Whemple is willing to fight him to the death to win the heart of the woman he (claims to) love.           
Just look how bored they look
So how would I describe this film?  Oh, I know.  It’s duuuuuull.  When you compare this film to other Universal Horror greats like “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, “The Wolf man”, and “Phantom of the Opera”; yes, “The Mummy” is quite dull.  Most of the film was kind of mimicked after the same plot to “Dracula”:  There’s a pretty girl, the monster attempts to seduce her, the hero comes in destroys the monster and saves the girl.  The End.  The only real differences in “The Mummy” are character names, and they replace the crucifix in “The Mummy” with an ankh to ward of bad guy.  I was actually falling asleep in my seat trying to make it through this film, and it’s not even that long; it’s only 73 minutes!  That’s how bored I got. 

No really, he's the villain?  I would've never guessed!
    Not to mention there’s no suspense.  We already know that Karloff is playing the mummy in the film, so when he appears as Ardath Bey, it’s not like it’s revealed to be a huge twist-to-the-plot, because you from the second that Ardath Bey introduces himself in the film that it’s clearly Boris Karloff, and he’s clearly the bad guy.                                   
He's such a tool!
Also, can I please talk about how much I hate the character Frank Whemple.  Okay, so he’s supposedly an archeologist, and yet we never see him do any digging (he hires the Egyptian locals to do that for him), and yet he get’s almost all the credit for discovering Ahnk-es-en-amon’s tomb?  Then he finds Miss Grovesnor trying to get into the museum after closing (because she was under Imhotep’s spell) and he decides that he is “in love” with her and wants to marry her.  Oh My Osiris, he is a boring and awful character.  I don’t think it would be fair to call him a “hero” because he doesn’t do anything.  He doesn’t even save the girl!  She has to save both of them from Imhotep’s evil deeds.  And I’m just going to come out and say it:  the ending is really weak.  Probably, one of the worst ending’s I’ve ever seen to a film                           
Im just gonna take this...okay?
Now as much as I am bashing this film there are something’s I found cool about this film is that even though it’s pretty much the same plot as “Dracula” it also got some of its influence from the real life Discovery of “King Tut’s Tomb” in 1922.  The Discover of the Tomb of Tutankhamen was one of the Biggest and Most Popular Discoveries of the early 20th Century.  So it was smart on Universal Studio’s part to try and capitalize on the popularity of the tombs discovery.  Also Karloff’s mummy make-up looks really good.  I did some research on it and found out that his make-up for the opening scene where he is dressed up as a mummy took 7-hours to do!  That is some serious dedication to your work.  The only thing that makes these “effects” more impressive is that I think they’re still better than the CGI effects in the 1999 remake as well (granted, I haven’t seen all of “The Mummy” remake)                             
     My advice to you is that if you are fan of Classic Horror Films and you want to see something good with Karloff in it go see “The Black Cat” (1934) or “Frankenstein”, and whatever you do just skip “The Mummy”.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! So glad I wasn't the only one bored by this one! Good review, love how you included what aw shucks wimps the heroes in these movvies tend to be. But it is pretty cool that the possessed girl got to save the day.