Starring: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan
Written By: John L. Balderston, Richard Schayer, Nina Wilcox Putnam
Directed By: Karl W. Freund
Run Time: 73 Minutes
Original Year of Release: 1932
For those of you that are too young to remember or haven’t discovered this classic, The Mummy (1932) is a tale about an Egyptian Priest that comes back to life to seek out his true love. Boris Karloff plays Im-ho-tep, a man whose secret desires were discovered 3,700 years ago and cursed to hell in both the world of the living and the dead. Revived by a few archaeologists, he walks the Earth as the living dead and discovers that his love has been reincarnated. His pursuit of her and his obsession is the heart of this dark tale.
It is impossible to rate Boris Karloff’s The Mummy. The film is a classic, hands down. Not only will horror directors try to emulate it but makeup artists as well. The Mummy is not only Karl Freund’s directorial debut but a horrific love story as well. What is great about discovering The Mummy is the listening to the feature-length commentary by Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steven Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong. These men give you an incredible insight into the film. We also get an overall perspective of Universal’s history of movie monsters, Karloff and where the horror genre has faulted since. Besides pointing out the occasional bad wig and the pre-code amount of skin on screen they make an effort to mention director Karl Freund’s moving camera, unheard of at the time, along with an early instance of deep focus, something Orson Welles would later use in Citizen Kane. Historically they put into perspective that the economy of the time was the worst ever in the United States but the cinema would produce films that will stand the test of time. It is a testament to the all those involved that The Mummy still exists today and is a celebrated classic in a genre that at the time was looked down upon.
The Mummy is one that you must screen this Halloween season. Not as flashy as Frankenstein and Dracula, it is a true classic forged when Hollywood looked down on the genre. The Mummy helped shape the horror genre with its camera, style, story and makeup. What makes this film a classic is that it will continue to do so for generations to come.