Friday, October 6, 2017
Halloween Watch 2017: The Mummy
I didn't mean to watch all of The Mummy (1932), but as so often happens, I did.
This Universal monster movie was one that, the first time I watched it, I loved the first ten minutes and then felt waning interest in everything but Zita Johann. But, the past two or three times I've given those first few minutes a shot (because I love the opening), I've really changed my tune. And, in fact, have to retract initial statements made about dull camera-work in comparison to the grand, gothic guignol of Dracula or the surrealist landscapes of the first three Frankenstein films.
The lighting, sets, and FX employed are far more deft than I'd originally wanted to give credit, and leave you in a murky place where you know Bey is employing mystical shenanigans, but it's hard to put a finger on what and how. Add in Karloff's performance, as well as that of Johann, and you've got something that's been aped more in vampire movies than anywhere else the past 85 years.
Karloff is actually terrific as Imhotep/ Ardath Bey, and the overall effect of the picture is not so much horrifying as it is eerie and uncanny. Unraveling the machinations of what he's up to (ripped off for the past thirty or forty years of Dracula movies), and it's good stuff.
Weirdly, TCM rated the movie TV-14, and for the life of me, I have no idea why. This is one I'd watch with a kid aged 10 or up. There's no blood, minimal on-screen violence, a lack of nudity or sexual innuendo... But Mummies are scary, I guess.