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The Mummy

USA 1932
produced by
Universal
directed by Karl Freund
starring Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, Edward Van Sloan, David Manners, Arthur Byron, Bramwell Fletcher, Noble Johnson, Kathryn Byron, Leonard Mudie, James Crane
written by John L.Balderston, make-up effects by Jack Pierce

Universal horror cycle, Universal's Mummy series

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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1921: The British Museum's Egyptian Expedition of professor Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) makes an amazing discovery - the mummy of Im-Ho-Tep, a priest who was buried some 3700 years ago without the usual honours for such an occasion for some sacrilege he committed. & imbedded with the mummy, the expedition also finds the scroll of Thoth, that contains a spell to bring the dead back to life. Unfortunately, young scientist Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher) cannot resist transcribing the scroll, & by doing so, he indeed awakens the mummy, who takes the scroll walks off, driving Norton nuts ...

11 years later, another Egyptian expedition led by professor Pearson (Leonard Mudie) & Whemple's son Franklin (David Manners) finds nothing ... until one day, the mysterious Egyptian Adith Bey (Boris Karloff) shows up & directs them to the tomb of Anks-Anam, a princess from 3700 years ago (yes, the princess high priest Im Ho Tep was in love with).

The findings from the grave, including Anks-Anam's mummy, are brought to the Cairo museum, where soon Adith Bey - in fact Im-Ho-Tep, who has since adapted to walking among the living again well enough - starts to hang out, even after hours, & starts to recite spells from the scroll of Thoth to Anks-Anam's mummy ...

Cut to Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), half English, half Egyptian lady of the society, who by some strange hypnotic force seems to be drawn to the Cairo museum, & only when she finds the main doors locked is she stopped & collapses, right in front of Joseph & Franklin Whemple, who take her to their house & inform doctor Miller (Edward Van Sloan) a mutual friend of them & Helen, about what happened. He soon suspects some otherworldly goings-on, & his suspicions are confirmed when a guard is murdered at the museum - unbeknowest to them by Adith Bey of course -, & the scroll of Thoth is found next to the dead body. Furthermore, Adith Bey shows up at the Whemple's home, & he seems to have some hypnotic power over Helen, who proves to be the reincarnation of Anks-Anam.

Adith Bey demands back the scroll of Thoth, which is now in Joseph Whemple's possession, but he refuses, & at doctor Miller's demand agrees to burn it ... but Adith Bey has great powers & kills Whemple from afar by a heart attack  before he can set fire to the scroll, & has Whemple's Nubian servant (Noble Johnson) bring him the scroll.

Later he hypnotically draws Helen to him & shows her their mutual past, when Anks-Anam died from a fever & Im-Ho-Tep tried to revive her again with the scroll of Thoth, but instead was cuaght by the pharao's (James Crane) men & buried alive together with the scroll, so his sacrilege could never be repeated. By this way, Adith Bey tries to bring Helen's Anks-Anam persona to the fore again, but Helen'sown persona is still too strong, so Adith Bey lets her go for the time being.

But, much to the concern of doctor miller & Franklin Whemple, Helen grows ever weaker - both physically & mentally - until Miller sees no other way then to tell her to give in to Adith Bey's call & let her Anks-Anam persona take over, so she can lead them to Adith Bey.

At the Cairo museum, Adith Bey has prepared everything to - with the scroll of Thoth - turn Helen/Anks-Anam to a living dead being like himself ... he hasn't accounted for the resistance of Anks-Anam though, who has no desire to die to be reborn as a living dead, & she delays the ceremony long enough for Miller & Franklin to catch up with her.

In the end though it's not them but (a statue of the) Egyptian deity Isis who destroys both Adith Bey/Im-Ho-Tep & the scroll of Thoth.

 


Opposed to most other Universal horror pics of its time, The Mummy relies less on horrific scenes (though at least the scene in which Karloff is mummified alive is gruesome enough) but on atmosphere created by excellent camerawork, lightning & moody direction by ex-cameraman Karl Freund. So, the slow pace of the movie actually works in favour of its overall effect instead of against it. It is of course also helped by a comprehensive & coherent script (not a necessity for Universal mummy-films, or horror-movies in general, for that matter) & fine central performances by Karloff (of course), Edward Van Sloan & Zita Johann.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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