THE MUMMY (1932)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
After watching and enjoying James Whale's The Invisible Man (1932) I thought it might be a good idea to delve back into my awesome Universal Monster Movie box set and dig out another classic. And although I have seen the modern reincarnations of the story, I am one of those rubbish people that still hadn't seen the original 1932 version of The Mummy starring Boris Karloff. The premise is kinda the same as the other more recent versions (although admittedly they all head in different directions). A team of archaeologists discover an old Egyptian tomb and within, the mummified remains of some crusty old dude called Imhotep. He is inadvertently brought back to life by a magic scroll (just like in The Evil Dead!). Instead of it being a chilled out 'California Man' style comedy where Imhotep learns how to function in modern society, he goes away and creates another identity for himself and then searches for his first love, who he thinks has been reincarnated into the body of Miss Grosvenor, the daughter of some important old bloke.
There is no doubting that The Mummy is a classic in terms of horror history and the popular mythology that it spewed forth. However, I have to say, it's not a movie that is particularly good. And by that I do not mean that it hasn't stood the test of time or it seems dated, it just has numerous problems with plot, characters and tone. Firstly, The Mummy is barely a horror movie. In the opening few minutes, we see Imhotep in his mummified form but after that he is pretty much just a tall, monotonous fella who glides around and says ominous stuff/is rude to people. Sure he does kill a couple of people, but one of these kills is off-screen and the other involves him staring into a pool of water (he does that a lot) and 'remotely' killing them by strangulation. Of course not every horror movie has to have lots of death scenes or jump scares but The Mummy doesn't really do much in the way of suspense either. Apart from the climax, Imhotep (or Ardath Bey as he is known under his new guise) rarely poses much of a threat to our heroes and the times when he does, he's usually not even in the same room as them.
The thing that really doesn't work for me is the central love story between Miss Grosvenor and Frank, the son of the archaeologist who discovered the tomb in the first place. They've known each other for literally fifteen minutes before they are professing their love for one another and waffling on about how they couldn't live without the other. Imhotep on the other hand has been buried alive for 3700 years and wants to be reunited with his former lover. I was pretty much on his side throughout the duration of the movie, not the other guy. Imhotep hasn't really got any plans for world domination (unlike the other Mummy movies), he just simply wants to get his freak on with the woman who looks like the chick he had a thing with back in the day. It's just that these pesky archaeologists and museum staff keep getting in the way. Also, it's difficult to root for a man like Frank, someone who seems so intent on invading the personal space of his new girlfriend (seriously, does anyone get that close to another human's face when talking to them?)
Much like The Invisible Man (which I watched a couple of weeks ago) the idea of the pursuit and moral objectivity of science is put under the microscope a bit. However, unfortunately, it doesn't have the energy or sense of fun of James Whale's classic. It doesn't try to be particularly funny to be fair, but it would have added another dimension to proceedings at least. Instead, we get a lot of talking and exposition but not the level of action you'd hope for. Saying all that, it does have a certain charm. The script, although a bit uneven, does include some great one-liners including Miss Grovesnor's retort to a adoring Frank 'Do you have to open graves to find ghosts to fall in love with? '. It looks great too and the Egyptian 'setting' adds a sense of the exotic. All in all, it's a 'horror' movie that you could sit down and watch with your kids and not have any worries about them having any nightmares. However, the flip side of that is that for a film entitled 'The Mummy', you kind of need a scare or two. And also more mummy...