Favorite Horror Films of the 1930s: The Mummy

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The_Mummy_1932_film_poster

(en.wikipedia.org)

In 1932, Universal studios followed up on its enormous success with Dracula and Frankenstein with the release of The Mummy. Riding the crest of his popularity at the box office, Boris Karloff starred, Karl Freund directed, and Carl Leammle Jr. produced the film. The movie was another financial success for the studio and further solidified its power and standing in the cinematic and entertainment world.

Freund-Karloff-The-Mummy-1932

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The plot of the film featured a curse on an Egyptian tomb and the resurrection of Im-Ho-Tep who had been buried alive as a mummy in ancient Egypt.  The film capitalized on the public awareness and excitement about the discovery of the tomb of King Tut and the supposed curse on that burial ground. We see Karloff in the full mummy makeup and costume for only a short period in the film, then he appears as the mysterious character Ardeth Bey who is searching for the reincarnation of his lost love.

Boris_Karloff_The_Mummy2

/commons.wikimedia.org

The film is atmospheric and an excellent story, but it is distinctly different from the barrage of sequels that were very loosely based on this particular movie. In those films, a monster, often not very bright, and always in full mummy costume and makeup, would trample around and cause terror and destruction until it is stopped.  This film focuses on the characters and the story more than overt horror. Additionally, along with The Bride of Frankenstein, this film is arguably one of the finest examples of creative cinematography of all horror films. The influence of German Expressionism, with its strong use of heavy dark and lights and clearly defined shadows is evident and important in The Mummy.

Jack Pierce created the makeup and continued to establish himself as the finest and most important makeup artist in all of Hollywood. His dual creation of the mummy in costume and full monster makeup and of Ardeth Bey is powerful and visually compelling.

If you have never seen this movie, you should put it on your viewing list.

movietheate

(pixabay.com)

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29 thoughts on “Favorite Horror Films of the 1930s: The Mummy

  1. Definitely a film to see. I saw it many years ago and would like to watch it again. Boris Karloff was one of the best – always my mum’s favourite. If ever horror films were mentioned in our house, Karloff’s name would suddenly emerge through her lips.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the “Mummy” movies – old or new! Thank you for the great commentary about this 1932 film. The history behind all these great films is so interesting and without these films, that broke new ground in cinematography and content, where would the horror films of today be? K D 🙂

    Like

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