October 15, 2012

The Mummy

Eighty years later, The Mummy (1932) feels clunky, about as frightening as an episode of Scooby-Doo, but it's not as embarrassing as some of the relics of the Universal horror era that began with 1931's Dracula. Karl Freund, the cinematographer for Dracula, directed The Mummy, and it's thanks to his eye for detail and mood that The Mummy holds up visually. The script--by John L. Balderston--is pedestrian, but, as in many a good horror movie, the creepiness transcends the material. Balderston's is a hodgepodge of the Western world's Egyptomania. It's about an ill-fated archaeological dig near Cairo that unleashes a cursed Egyptian priest (Boris Karloff, who's appropriately lacking in charisma). This mummy-priest wants to track down his long lost love, who he believes has been reincarnated into the body of half-Egyptian Helen, a woman (Zita Johann) visiting Cairo from England. Read Ziska (1897) by Marie Corelli and The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903) by Bram Stoker and see if Balderston didn't find inspiration in both those novels. With David Manners and Edward van Sloan. Clocking in at 73 minutes, it's at least a quick viewing if you find it boring and dated. b & w

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