Alright, now we’re cooking! It’s taken roughly 10,000 years, but we’ve reached The Mummy movies that people have actually heard of. Sure, it was nice to see what came before and the origins of characters/names Mr. Stephen Sommers pulled from, but we’ve had enough of these movies taking themselves seriously. Show me some Brendan Fraser scaring the villain off with a cat!
The Mummy stars Brendan Fraser as the adventurer Rick O’Connell. Once in the French Foreign Legion, he’s currently (as of 1923, one year after Howard Carter discovered King Tut) awaiting execution by hanging. Enter Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and her ambigiously gay brother Jonathan (John Hannah), who need Rick alive in order to discover the hidden city of Hamunaptra. Along the way they encounter a band of rival explorers and some local protectors of the city led by Ardeth Bay (whose name is never said in this film). Rick and crew find the mummy Imhotep–last seen in 1932’s The Mummy, so welcome back to the franchise–and when Evy reads from the Book of Dead, Imhotep is resurrected. Seriously, never read from the evil book out loud! Anyway, Imhotep starts killing the rival team, stealing their life force and reconstituting himself so he doesn’t look like… well, an unwrapped mummy. He grabs Evy, thinking that she will be the perfect sacrifice to bring back his dead love, Anck-Su-Namun. After finding the Book of Amun-Ra, we have Evy fighting a mummified Anck-Su-Namun, Rick fighting off a horde of mummies, and Jonathan trying to read the passage from the book that steals control of the mummies away from Imhotep. In the end Anck-Su-Namun is killed (she’ll be back), Imhotep is depowered and killed (he’ll be back too), and Rick and the gang barely make it out of Hamunaptra before it is destroyed.
There’s also Beni (Kevin J O’Connor), a cowardly lackey who works for the highest bidder–that ends up being Imhotep–and gets eaten by scarabs. The fact that he also played Igor in Van Helsing speaks volumes to the role he’s very well suited to (even though he’d probably make a better Renfield to Dracula). He won’t be back.
This movie is dearly loved and has spawned a thousand memes. And I do mean that literally; as of writing, the Imhotep Mummyposting Facebook group has 5,300 members, and that’s not including stuff found on other sites or groups. Anyway, this is a very popular and well remembered movie, so it’s interesting to rewatch it after so long and see all the things I had forgotten! Like, does anybody really remember Warden Gad Hassan, the Iranian version of Charlie Day? Can you name any of the rival American explorers? Hell, solid B+ actor Erick Avari even has a small role before his character sacrifices himself, and while I love him, I absolutely didn’t remember his appearance.
It’s also interesting to switch genres from horror to action. It’s a good fit, with mummies being found in tombs, and adventuring adventurers entering said tombs. This movie also finally realizes that mummies aren’t that scary. Sure, they’re strong and all that but like typical zombies, a light jog and you’ve left them behind. But what this movie does realize is that no matter how far you run, a mummy will still be behind you, never ceasing. Less typical monster, more It Follows entity. Plus the whole “steal your lifeforce and kill your girlfriend” shows a level of active malevolence usually reserved for the person pulling the Mummy’s strings.
MUMMY FUN FACT! The leader of the rival explorers was played by Jonathan Hyde, last seen on this blog as the villain in The Curse of King Tut. But you guys probably know him as Van Pelt from Jumanji, or maybe even Bruce Ismay from Titanic, the highest ranking official on the ship.
Next: The Mummy Returns
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