Mummy Mondays have officially begun! I’ll be covering all the movies of the noteworthy mummy franchises, which includes 6 classic Universal movies, 4 from Hammer films, the Brendan Fraser trilogy, the Scorpion King pentalogy (oh yes, there are 5 of those), and finally the Tom Cruise one that’s DEFINITELY not getting a cinematic universe. So without further ado, let’s begin!
The Mummy is one of the Universal Classic Monsters series, but if we’re being honest, it’s not in the “top tier.” That’s reserved for Dracula, Frankenstein, and arguably The Wolf Man simply because he shows up in a bunch of movies starring the “big two.” Despite having 4 franchises The Mummy is kinda forgotten (outside of the Brendan Fraser trilogy, of course, but even those are more action movies than horror). And I think, based on watching the original movie, is because the character of the Mummy isn’t very… flashy.
The story is of an ancient being awakening in the “modern day” world of man, disguising himself as one of us, coming across a woman who bears a striking resemblance to his ancient love, and using his powers–specifically mind control–to bend her will to his own. Wait a minute… that’s a vampire plot. Think about it, it is! But where a vampire (usually) has a sexually charged energy and biting, here Imhotep has… uh… an intense stare. And the ability to give someone a heart attack at a distance, but he uses that sparingly and only via a scrying pool.
Don’t get me wrong, Boris Karloff is great in this, and the shot they use multiple times of him staring directly into the camera is iconic and spooky, but you see him as an actual wrapped mummy for a very brief amount of time. For the vast majority of the film he’s Ardath Bey, an Egyptian who helps British archaeologists find the tomb of his ancient love and then creeps on the woman resembling her. Granted, our hero also kinda creeps on her, but he’s alive so I guess it’s okay?
Anyway, in the end the Mummy is defeated with the help of the goddess Isis herself, and he crumbles to dust. Not much room for a sequel, let alone 5 more before Hammer Horror picks up the ball, so it’s not surprising that the following movies focus on a different mummy. In fact, as far as I can tell, we won’t see Imhotep return until 1999.
MUMMY FUN FACT! Ardath Bey also returns in 1999’s The Mummy, but as a different character than Imhotep and an ally to Rick O’Connell. And his name is spelled “Ardeth Bay” for some reason.
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