I decided to go back and check out another one of the Universal classic monster movies this week, mostly because I recently picked up the entire Mummy series for 7 bucks on Amazon. I’m familiar with the “so bad it’s kinda good but then they just get bad and then they get real fuckin’ bad” series of recent Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser, but I had never seen the original. The time felt right.
If you’re like me and you only really know the Fraser stuff, then it’s going to blow your mind how little this reflects that. At no point does a giant waterfall grow a face and start chasing an airplane. Can you believe that shit? There’s also no lame comedic relief or overblown kinda pointless action scenes. And there is never a scene where somebody outruns the sun. I’m starting to think that maybe the Fraser ones weren’t very faithful remakes.
They did get a few details right, I mean there is a mummy here. He’s resurrected when someone reads an ancient scroll out loud (I enjoy how the guy who reads it immediately goes insane after he sees the mummy, everyone else deals with it ok so I’m not sure what this guy’s problem is), and from there he sets out to find and murder the reincarnation of his lost love in order for her to be mummified as well. In the newer Mummy he was a rotted corpse, but here he is actually just a guy wrapped up in bandages, which is way cooler. Unfortunately, aside from a flashback showing what happened to him, you never get to see him in this form, shuffling about and killing people. Maybe this happens in one of the many sequels and follow-ups.
What you do get though, is a great performance by Boris Karloff as the mummy (should I be capitalizing this every time?) in human form. This dude is awesome. His eyes and voice are so god damn intense and he can give people heart attacks just by thinking about it real hard. There’s nothing more terrifying than having a heart attack because some guy really wanted you to have one. It’s like that book The Secret. Karloff is the highlight of the movie and makes it worth watching. Up until now I’d really only seen him in Frankenstein, where he never actually spoke. This one has definitely made me want to check out some of his other roles.
Though the whole movie is actually quite good. It’s never boring and moves along at a good pace, though it is only 73 minutes long. It’s well shot, well acted, and at times genuinely suspenseful. The flashback scene to show the events leading up to his mummification is another highlight. I firmly believe it would be real shitty to become a mummy, so it’s rough having to watch it happen to this guy. Sadly the ending to this version doesn’t feature The Rock as a fucked up stupid CGI scorpion, but this one is pretty good too.
Seems I’m making these a lot shorter now. Also Jesus Christ what the hell happened to Brendan Fraser? We cared about him at least a little bit for a while there didn’t we? No? Sorry, my mistake.