Halloween Endurance Test: The Mummy (1932)

WARNING: It does NOT come to life.

These reviews are called “the Halloween Endurance Test” for a review, for which I offer exhibit A: Universal’s the Mummy. History fans (ha! A pun!) will note that when Hammer films built their empire off of relaunching the famed Universal franchises, the Mummy was one that was left alone. Upon watching the original film, one can see why.

For every one of these shots...

For every one of these…

With Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal had established horror properties with which to work with. With the Mummy, they had the opportunity to create their own monster. So what did they come up with? An old man made-up as an older monster (sorry Karloff!) who spends his afterlife staring into a pool of water; waiting for people to have heart attacks. Seriously, that’s his power. Watching people choke and/or have heart attacks (i.e. succumb to old age).

...there's three of these scenes.

…there’s three of these.

Now I also know why this franchise was ignored by Universal when they were making their uneven yet comically interesting grab-bag House of… monster flicks. I guess when the subject of your story changes every five minutes (from vampires, to Frankenstein, to Wolf Men, to mad scientists, etc.) you don’t have time to watch people have heart attacks.

the Mummy - Caught!

If I seem to be stuck on a trifling detail, please forgive me. I’m just trying to bring across the film’s meandering pace. Not even the writer could figure out what to do with it. At one point, when the Mummy decides to murder the woman he’s spent 3700 years waiting for, he has his servant grab her. Then, before either he or the servant can stab her to death, the Mummy instead decides to hypnotize her with his ring.

the Mummy - Ritual

Saving her for another five minutes as the Mummy continues talking about the past. Christ, Tutankhamun’s literal curse killed people faster than this fictitious one! Then, thankfully, the film just ends. One of the Egyptian statues decides this crap has gone on long enough and (slowly) raises its hand and zaps the Mummy. All the talk about the curse and eternal love and ancient scrolls that you’d be hearing hack actors drone on for the past hour straight down the drain.

If Universal’s Spanish-version Dracula is 2010’s reigning top find, then this film has staked out its spot at the bottom of the pile. Possibly worse than I Dismember Mama!


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