THE MUMMY. Universal, 1932. Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Arthur Byron, Edward Van Sloan, Bramwell Fletcher. Director: Karl Freund.

THE MUMMY Boris Karloff

   I don’t suppose you’ve been waiting for me to review this movie before you decide to see it or not. It’s one the classics, that’s for sure, and yes, I saw this back when I was a young lad, around 10 or so, and it scared me something awful back then, but not as much as the kid from school sitting next to me — no, wait. That was Frankenstein, which I think was even scarier. I know the other kid from school thought so! I don’t remember ever seeing Dracula, though, even now.

   Today — returning as I should to The Mummy — I don’t think kids of 10 will be scared by this movie at all, having grown up on video games and movies rated R that they’ve managed to get in to see, or even PG-13, with all of the special effects and blood and gore.

THE MUMMY Boris Karloff

   No blood and gore in this one, if I remember it correctly, and I just finished watching it not more than 10 minutes ago. It’s all in the mind. Special effects? Well, the bandaging job on the mummy was spot on. First, in the present day — when his tomb is opened, the inscription that awakens him is unwittingly read, and the mummy strolls out leaving shreds of unraveled cloth behind. (I must have only imagined the musty smell.)

   But even more vivid, to me, was the flashback scene taking place in the far distant past, when Im-ho-tep was first wrapped up in them from head to toe — and buried alive. Br-R-r-r-r. I think that this, the burial scene, gave me more chills than anything else in the movie. Some people seem to remember the the reawakening as what scared them the most, and while I don’t agree, I certainly don’t blame them.

THE MUMMY Boris Karloff

    All in all, I don’t think The Mummy is as much of a horror movie than one based on the occult or reincarnation: the spirit of Princess Anck-es-en-Amon now resides in the physical body of Helen Grosvenor, played by the very bewitching Zita Johann in her own right.

   A movie based on either of these ideas would have been spooky enough in the 1930s without needing much in the way of extra trappings, or to a ten-year-old boy on a re-release some 20 years later.