Today I will examine the Universal Pictures classic;” The Mummy” (1932). The movie stars Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, and Edward Van Sloan. This film was released almost a year after Karloff’s big break in Frankenstein (1931). One of the original Universal Pictures horror classics; “The Mummy” was another triumph when it was released on December 22,1932.
The movie surrounds Sir Joseph Whemple and Dr. Muller. These two archeologists uncover a mummy that has been buried for almost 4,000 years. After an employee opens a dangerous scroll the Mummy named, Imhotep is freed. Ten years later Imhotep, going by Ardath Bay remerges. Bay helps the archeologists discover another mummy (Anck-es-en-Amon) . Anck-es-en-Amon was Imhotep’s forever love that died days before he did. From death he promised her they would be together again. Anck-es-en-Amon resembles a beautiful lady, Helen Grosvenor. Imhotep must have her as his own. He will do anything to make her his own; including murder. Bay’s powers cannot be resisted or stopped. In order for Helen and Bay to be together, Bay must make her a mummy like himself and seduce/control her.
One thing that is evident is that Jack P. Pierce’s makeup work is spellbinding. With limited resources in the 1930’s his artistry, must be respected even more. With Pierce’s creation and Karloff’s menacing look, the horror connects with the viewers. Karloff was always skinny, but in this movie he is rail then. I’m wondering if he lost weight for this particular role. His frame looks like (all things considered) he is a mummy that has been buried for centuries.
The trouble with this film is it mirrors “Dracula” (1931) in too many instances. As the movie progresses, you seen the blatant recycling of the “Dracula” script. It becomes annoying. The male protagonist are both infatuated with seducing the leading female and making them what they are. Edward Van Sloan plays literally the same character in both movies with a different name. He is the doctor and the only one who can figure out the plot of the villain’s plans. I’m assuming because “Dracula” was such as overwhelming success, Universal assumed magic could strike again. This my only issue with the movie, but it does lower the bar because it’s such a blatant recreation of Dracula.
Other than this the movie was well done. The special effects and makeup was a head of it’s time. The actors mesh well and perform well together. The movie helped Universal grow more confident with the horror genre they were partaking in.