The Mummy is a Universal Monster film from 1932 starring the one and only, Boris Karloff. It’s one of my favorite horror films and I cannot recommend it enough.
In February of 2020, I watched the entire Universal Monster Film catalog. All 35 films in one month and it was quite the project. It was fun but it was also difficult. I wrote about my time doing that a year ago so check that out if you’d like. The Mummy ranks number 3 out of 35 on my list. It's THAT good. The Mummy sequels however… are near the bottom.
The introduction of this film is iconic. The awesome title card on the pyramid as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake looms in the background… so cool. It sets up the tone perfectly.
After the opening titles, the best scene begins. I love the introduction. Three scientists are studying the discovery of a mummy and an ancient box. Karloff plays the mummy and his makeup looks incredible. The two older scientists argue over whether they should open the box or not. A curse plagues over anyone who opens it so one of them is like hell no. The other one wants to discover what’s on the other side. While they are discussing that outside, the younger scientist disobeys the order of leaving the box alone and opens it. He reads some of the ancient scroll and the mummy soon comes to life. His eyes slowly open and he slowly moves his arm. The young scientist has no clue what’s happening behind him. The mummy reaches for the scroll and the scientist sees the ancient being take it and walk away. It scares him so much he laughs himself to death. The laughter is beyond creepy. It really gets to me every time it happens. The other scientists come back and discover the mummy is gone and the awful laughter of the scared man.
What I love about that scene is the fact that we never see the mummy walk. We only see his arm move twice and his bandages move. That’s it. It’s genius because my imagination takes over and what I’m thinking is a million times more frightening than watching the mummy simply walk around. Karloff perfectly portrays the mummy.
The makeup by Jack Pierce is once again amazing. He truly is one of the best to ever do it. The fact that he’s responsible for creating all these iconic monsters is so damn cool. What a legend.
Boris Karloff, of course, is phenomenal. He plays the wrapped up mummy perfectly and he plays the mummy in human form perfectly too. I love his look and how serious he plays the role. I would say it’s an underrated performance from him.
The direction and cinematography really make this film worth the watch. Like Frankenstein (1931) and Dracula (1931) this film has that perfect gothic atmosphere. I would say it’s on par with those films. That’s due to the direction, cinematography, and the set designs. It’s a perfect watch during October and the Halloween season.
This film is a slow burn. After the amazing introduction, the film slows way down and becomes a story about a monster searching for his long lost love. He finds her soul reincarnated into another woman. His sole purpose is to bring them back together so he’ll do anything to accomplish his goal. Of course, he’s stopped in the end by the good guys but still his plan is pretty fucked up.
I don’t have much more to say about this film so I’ll end this by saying check it out! It’s an underrated horror film and one of the best films amongst the Universal Monster catalog. Just skip the sequels… please… don’t watch them. They are bad.