2 October 2005 | gftbiloxi
The Most Subtle of the Universal Horror Films
Although frequently reinterpreted, the original 1932 THE MUMMY remains the most intriguing film version of a story inspired by both 1920s archaeological finds and the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula: when an over-eager archaeologist reads an incantation from an ancient scroll, he unexpectedly reanimates a mysterious mummy--who then seeks reunion with the princess for whom he died thousands of years earlier and ultimately finds his ancient love reincarnated in modern-day Egypt.
Less a typical horror film than a Gothic romance with an Egyptian setting, THE MUMMY has few special effects of any kind and relies primarily upon atmosphere for impact--and this it has in abundance: although leisurely told, the film possesses a darkly romantic, dreamlike quality that lingers in mind long after the film is over. With one or two exceptions, the cast plays with remarkable restraint, with Boris Karloff as the resurrected mummy and Zita Johann (a uniquely beautifully actress) standouts in the film. The sets are quite remarkable, and the scenes in which Karloff permits his reincarnated lover to relive the ancient past are particularly effective.
Kids raised on wham-bam action and special effects films will probably find the original THE MUMMY slow and uninteresting, but the film's high quality and disquieting atmosphere will command the respect of both fans of 1930s horror film and the more discerning viewer. Of all the 1930s Universal Studio horror films, THE MUMMY is the most subtle--and the one to which I personally return most often.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer