The Mummy (1932)

The next early step on our journey of Horror is another Karloff film, Karl Freund’s ‘The Mummy’ from 1932, originally supposed to simply be a vehicle for Karloff but became much much more!!

The Mummy tells the story of Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) who, whilst on an excavation trip in Egypt, along with two others, comes across the mummified remains of Imhotep (Karloff) and the mysterious scroll of Thoth. After one of the men reads the message written on the scroll alone, the Mummy awakens on the other side of the room and exits it’s resting place, coming over to the unsuspecting Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher) and sending him into a state of insane shock, taking the scroll for himself and leaving in beautifully directed fashion.

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Karloff in his iconic bandages

11 years later, Imhotep is posing as a modern Egyptian by the name of Ardath Bey, who has been seeking the modern reincarnation of his lover, Ankh-es-en-amon, whom he originally tried to revive from the dead and therefore was executed for sacrilege. Bey shows Mr Whemple’s son, Frank (who is continuing to excavate) where to dig to find his lover’s tomb and when found, is thanked greatly by Frank and the new mummy and findings are taken to Cairo museum. Imhotep then encounters Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann) who bares a huge resemblance to Ankh-es-en-amon and attempts to kill her, in order to mummify, resurrect and then make her his bride…so he can carry on where he left off 3000 years ago.

The narrative of the film is quite a snappy one, there is never a dull moment when viewing which proves for a very entertaining and enjoyable film. The Egyptian history elements will definitely intrigue people who are interested in this historic period and possibly even those who aren’t. The Egyptian setting also proves for some excellent set and costume design. The make up once again, from Frankenstein’s Jack Pierce, on Karloff is excellent, especially at the beginning of the film when we see Imhotep in his famous bandages…it was so much that apparently Karloff found it difficult to speak when in his full makeup.

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Imhotep and ‘Ankh-es-en-amon’ the reincarnated

Speaking of Boris, he does not disappoint at all. While not as memorable as he was in Frankenstein, he arguably acts better here in a speaking role. He is incredibly intimidating in the role, his hypnotic glare is iconic and he has such a unique quality to him that makes him rather creepy even by today’s standards. You won’t be scared by ‘The Mummy’, to watch these types of horror films today is to be appreciative and to feel more a sense of atmosphere than genuine terror. That dark atmosphere is definitely there again, one of things Universal Pictures constantly did correctly with there classic horror films. The film gives us multiple well known, iconic moments, including Karloff’s repeated stare, the opening revival scene and Imhotep’s mirror…the music also of course is, like all the others, perfectly fitting for the film.

The performances, aside from Karloff, aren’t neccesarily memorable but they’re good, Zita Johann as Helen, ‘the reincarnation of Ankh-es-en-amon’ is a fitting selection, despite her and director Karl Freund notably hating each other. David Manners (Harker in Dracula) is rather good as Frank Whemple as is Arthur Byron as his father, Joseph. Edward Van Sloan of course makes an appearance as Dr Muller and he is a delight to watch whenever he’s on screen but it’s undeniable that the show stealer is Karloff.

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The wonderful Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Muller, confronts Ardath Bey

This is another truly iconic, classic Universal horror movie and gives us one of the most recognisable movie monsters in history…while not as good a film as Dracula or Frankenstein, it’s still well worth the watch, if just for good ol’ Boris but if you are a horror fan, it’s sure to entertain!!

Let me know your thoughts on this film in the comments and contact me at morgan@thepurpledon.com if you have any inquiries or suggestions for improvements to posts!

The Journey Continues Tomorrow

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