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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.92%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 19.23%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 20 user ratings

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Mummy, The (1932)
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by MP Bartley

"Horror is Universal."
4 stars

The Universal collection of monsters that they produced in the 30's and 40's is so strong and so iconic that even the worst attempts of Stephen Sommers couldn't destroy them. There's probably an irony in that the only horror icon he didn't ruin, is the one he changed the most - the mummy. Because the original film has very little bandaged zombie action to it at all. In fact, it's rarely horrific and plays more like a middle eastern version of 'Dracula' with the emphasis on the obsessive love storyline. Despite this lack of obvious horror thrills, 'The Mummy' still remains a hidden gem, because of it's dreamy and unique atmosphere.

The similarities to 'Dracula' are plentiful - an ancient evil is awoken, takes on human form and becomes obsessed with a woman he believes to be the reincarnation of his great lost love. They even cast the original Van Helsing (Edward Von Sloan) in an identical role, as the old professor piecing things together and coming to the aid of the young, handsome, but hapless hero.

What's striking then, is that apart from the first time we glimpse the mummy, it's never seen as the bandaged icon we immediately associate these films with. Instead, Imhotep is played as an old man, with a face as lined and as deep as the desert who ingratiates himself with the humans who have unwittingly set him free. It's thanks to the strength of Karloff's performance however, that this never becomes silly or risible, even if he does wear a fez hat. Although he's far more renowned for his performance in 'Frankenstein', his work here is equally good, bringing a deep sense of unease and power to the role.

The one scary moment is brilliantly done, as the ancient mummy awakens, with the only clue to this being a pin-prick of light and the smallest movement of Karloff's eyes.

Other than this, Karl Freunds direction, relies on a mix of expressionism and eastern mysticism to create a dream-like and haunting atmosphere. As Imhotep works his insidious ways, the film delves into strangeness upon strangeness, with the use of flashbacks to Imhotep's previous life and the strong theme of reincarnation to give 'The Mummy' it's haunting atmosphere. It may be a far cry from the dark dungeons of Dracula, but it's equally, if not more, effective.

The notion of a lumbering mummy strangling the life out of unwitting graverobbers was one that would only be explored in the sequels like 'The Mummy's Tomb' and 'The Mummy's Hand' and, yes, 'Abbot and Costello meet The Mummy'. The original however, is a creature of a different cloth and is much more of a ghost story than a horror film. Nevertheless, modern horror still owes a great deal to it, so if you've forgotten about it lately why don't you do the decent thing and give it a re-awakening?

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originally posted: 04/12/05 23:13:25
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User Comments

6/16/20 The Big D. Works as both supernatural horror and thriller about love beocming obsession. 5 stars
9/12/17 morris campbell eerie old flick 4 stars
10/02/12 tlr b&w rules! slow but karloff close ups worh it. 4 stars
12/05/11 Pamela White Fun to watch this classic 3 stars
7/30/11 Durwood I thought Lon Chaney made a better mummy. 3 stars
7/19/08 Neil the best of it is a triumph of haunting subtle atmosphere; classic horror 5 stars
5/04/07 porfle One of the finest horror films ever made. 5 stars
3/09/07 David Pollastrini better than the remakes 5 stars
3/06/07 Donny M Boring........yawn 2 stars
12/22/05 cody a classic movie with good acting, and lot creepy stuff, stand test of time 4 stars
10/25/05 tatum Creaky stuff, for rabid fans only 3 stars
7/27/05 the untrained eye Set at an unconventional pace this movie nevertheless mesmerizes! 5 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Static as Dracula but Karloff is always interesting. 3 stars
4/20/05 Chris Stephens Great Universal classic 4 stars
4/19/05 Al Guy The beginning is better than many full movies. 5 stars
4/18/05 Christy Not a bad movie 4 stars
4/16/05 Gail Crawford well done, scary 5 stars
10/22/04 John has its moments and a great concept but it does move very slow 3 stars
10/15/04 eugene Great movie worth a look i await the re make 4 stars
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  DVD: 19-Oct-2004



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