I like Mummy films. They area fun, if not repetitive sub genre of horror that I don’t feel gets the respect it deserves. To me, it seems that the mummy is treated kinda like the Aquaman of monsters. Always included but not necessarily respected. There have been horror films, Soft-core adult films, cartoon and toy lines, and comics, what does a mummy have to do to get some respect?
The first mummy film was The Mummy of King Ramses, a French film made in 1909, followed by several others including Vengeance of Egypt (1912), The Eyes of the Mummy (1918) and FOX’s The Mummy (1923 considered lost). In 1932, he was born again for good in Universal’s The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, who set the standard for Mummy’s to come. Interestingly, the classic image of the bandaged living mummy only appears on screen for less than one minute. The often seen photo of the mummy reaching for the scroll is not even seen in the film...WOW!
There were four sequels to the Mummy, three starring Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis the mummy. These are mostly forgettable but, like with the Frankenstein monster, the popular image of the mummy was strongly influenced by the sequels rather than the original.
The Mummy, in my opinion was never better realized in his traditional form, than it was in the Hammer films series. Their version of The Mummy (1959), featured the towering Christopher Lee as the mummy, wrapped in bandages, and owning the screen with his slow but powerful movements.
After Hammer finished their run, the Spaniards took a shot with Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy. A cool film with nice visuals, to my knowledge is only available in subtitled. After Spain, all was quiet on the cloth wrapped front until the eighties.
There has only been one female mummy story filmed, Bram Stoker’s Jewel of the Seven Stars, and it has been filmed FOUR times, once for cheap thrills, once with style, once with a big budget, and once because they had a good idea for the video box. ! It’s not even that good!
First up was The Curse of the Mummy (1970) from the British series Mystery and Imagination starring Hammer alum Isobel Black. A decent entry in a fun series that is mostly lost to time.
The most interesting is Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971), starring Valerie Leon. A picture wrought with problems, first Peter Cushing had to leave the project after one days filming, due to his wife taking ill. Then director Seth Holt died, prompting Hammer head Michael Carreres to come in and finish the job. All problems aside, the film turned out well and remains the best version of the story.
Next up was the Orion/Warner Brothers not so classic “The Awakening”. There is nothing I can I say about this film other than Charlton Heston is as bad as he always was, the sets are large, but nothing exciting is done with them. It plays like a boring family drama with exceptional set pieces.
The final version was made in 1997 and the less said about it, the better. Amy Locane and Louis Gossett Jr. are simply sleepwalking through this mess and I don’t blame them. The coolest thing about this mess is the cover art. Don’t be fooled.
1999 brought us Tale of the Mummy with a cameo from Christopher Lee, and starring Jason Scott Lee, Gerard Butler, Sean Pertwee and Lysette Anthony. A cool flick with fun themes and good actors who do a good job, it’s only real drawback is the early CGI effects. Nice tribute to Hammer though...
Then of course there is Universal’s The Mummy, Stephen Sommers’ overblown Indiana Jones knockoff. I won’t rehash what I’ve said elsewhere so I’ll leave it at “it’s a fun movie depending on what you want”.
Not a whole lot of mummy movies really. There are hundreds of Frankenstein and Dracula movies so I feel he’s been left behind. He does have a nice softcore presence though in films like Mummy’s Kiss, Lust in the Mummy’s Tomb, and Misty Mundae: Mummy Raider.
Let’s move ahead. On the cartoon front, he’s had one of the most fun shows out there, “Mummies Alive!” which ran for 42 episodes in 1997 just before the end of the century mummy craze. There was also the animated Mummy series from Universal which ran for two seasons but was critically panned for it shoddy production. Monsters have generally not been well represented in cartoons so two series is better than none. There have been of course a few group monster shows like the Drac Pac and Monster Force
On the comics’ scene, things have more of a slant against it. During the marvel horror comics’ heyday, there was a character called the Living Mummy; he was the only monster not to get his own series. Boo! Hiss! Eerie had a strip running through several issues called “The Mummy Walks”. A very cool idea presented in a gothic setting. I highly recommend picking that up. You can also find the Living Mummy in Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 2 (highly recommended).
There is lots of Mummy fun to be had. Not all of it is good, but then everyone’s taste stands alone. It would be nice to have the Mummy treated better and the only way that’s gonna happen is by supporting the mummy stuff that’s out there. So remember, Sunday is Mummy’s day, fit a little time in there for the rolled one