The Mummy (1932) title

Tag line : It Comes to Life!

The Mummy (1932)Universal pictures release of "Frankenstein" had proved even more successful than "Dracula" and had made a star out of Boris Karloff, who'd played the monster. Eager to capitalise on its success, they hastily commissioned another horror film in which he would star. But this time, rather than adapting an existing novel or play, the writers decided to come up with an "original" idea (well, sort of) based on the legend of Tutankhamun.

Set in Egypt, a group of archaeologists from the British museum have unearthed a sarcophagus containing the extremely well preserved Mummy of Egyptian priest Im-Ho-Tep (Boris Karloff), along with a number of other artefacts. One of the group unwisely decides to ignore the warnings on the case and reads aloud from some ancient scroll within (you can see where this is leading) and the next thing we know, the Mummy has left it's box and gone walkies...

Sometime afterwards, the group are approached by an Egyptian scholar, Ardath Bey (Boris Karloff again), who informs them where they may find another tomb. However, it seems Ardath isn't really out to help them and has taken an unhealthy interest in young Helen Grosvener (Zita Johann), the daughter of a prominent English governor, who one of the archaeologists has befriended.

It seems she bares an uncanny resemblance to an ancient Egyptian princess, and Bey (who, if you hadn't figured it out by now, is actually the resurrected Im-Ho-Tep) wants her for his own nefarious ends, unless Dr Mueller (Edward Von Sloan in another Van Helsing type role) and archaeologist Frank Whempole can stop him...

Released in 1932, the year after "Frankenstein", this is another one of Universal's "classic" B&W monster movies. However, don't expect to see much of Karloff walking around in bandages, as aside from the opening scene of him in the sarcophagus, he spends most of the film disguised as an Egyptian, wearing arab robes and a fez. If you enjoyed "Frankenstein" you should enjoy this, but if your idea of a good "Mummy" movie is that god-awful CGI-turdfest from 1999, then this won't be your thing.

Overall marks : 4/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Boris Karloff's elaborate Mummy make-up at the start of the film reportedly took 8 hours to apply.

  • Director Karl Fruend was the cinematographer on "Dracula" (1931). This was his first picture as a director.

  • The film starts off in 1921, the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, which this film was loosely based on, happened in 1922.

  • Edward Von Sloan, who plays Dr Muller, also played Dr Waldman in "Frankenstein" (1931) and Dr Van Helsing in "Dracula" (1931).

  • There were several scenes filmed, showing the various re-incarnated lives of Imhotep's love interest Anck-es-En-Amon, who Zita Johan's character looks like. However, these were cut from the final film.

  • David Manners, who plays Archeologist Frank Whemple, also played Jonathan Harker in "Dracula" (1931).

  • Ardath Bey, the name Imhotep assumes whilst masquerading as an Egyptian scholar, is an anagram of "Death by Ra".

  • Writer John Balderstone had previously worked as a journalist and had been to Egypt in 1922 to cover the story about the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. Being also a keen history buff, when he was tasked with writing a new horror movie for Boris Karloff to star in, he decided to base it on the legend surrounding Tutankhamun.

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