-This review pertains to The Mummy: Special Edition DVD-
In 1932, one year after Universal Studios
' success with Frankenstein
, Boris Karloff
got all wrapped up in a role that would become one of the all-time great movie monsters. As the mummy, Im-Ho-Tep, Karloff gave a drastically different performance than that of the pathetic and misunderstood creature in Frankenstein
. Im-Ho-Tep is a cold and methodical killer, his heart warped from the pain of losing his love. He uses any means necessary to obtain that which he covets, whether it's power or people. The Mummy
was the directorial debut of Karl Freund
, the brilliant German cinematographer whose works include Metropolis
, and Murders in the Rue Morgue
. Over a decade earlier it was people like Freund who helped to make Germany famous for its expressionist cinema, as well as revolutionizing the way films were photographed. John L. Balderston
, the famous playwright who Americanized the Dracula
play, which was later to serve as the main inspiration for the 1931 Tod Browning
film, wrote the screenplay for The Mummy
. The story of The Mummy
owes much to screenplay of Dracula
and the film even uses members of the cast of that film. However, the presence of Boris Karloff
is what gives The Mummy
its individual identity and separates it from other horror films of its era. Also, unlike either Dracula
, The Mummy
wasn't set in some gothic European locale. No, The Mummy
featured exotic Egypt as its setting (though the film was shot entirely in California as almost all Universal
pictures were at the time).
Exploiting the obsessive fascination that Americans and Europeans had for all things Egyptian, after the finding of King Tutankhamen
's tomb in 1921, the story utilizes mummies, curses, and Egyptian occultism to attract viewers.
After committing sacrilege, Egyptian High Priest, Im-Ho-Tep is buried alive only to be rediscovered 3,700 years later by British archaeologists. He is accidentally resurrected and assumes the identity of Ardeth Bay. Ardeth Bay's one passion, his one obsession is to be reunited with his long-dead lover, Princess Anck-es-en-Amon. Ardeth Bay believes that his loneliness may be over when he meets the beautiful Helen Grosvenor, the reincarnated Anck-es-en-Amon. As Ardeth pursues Helen, he is also determined to obtain the Scroll of Thoth, which will ensure his immortality and his control over Helen. Challenging him are Doctor Muller, an expert on the Egyptian occult, Sir Joseph Whemple, a renowned archaeologist, and his son, Frank Whemple who has fallen in love with Helen. But do these three stand a chance against Ardeth Bay, who has a mastery over hypnosis? Can they save Helen from... The Mummy?
The film stars Boris Karloff
(who was billed as Karloff the Uncanny) as Im-Ho-Tep / Ardeth Bay, Zita Johann
as Helen Grosvenor / Anck-es-en-Amon, David Manners
as Frank Whemple, Arthur Byron
as Sir Joseph Whemple, and Edward Van Sloan
as Doctor Muller.
This terrifyingly good DVD includes an audio commentary with film historian Paul M. Jensen
, an audio commentary with makeup artist Rick Baker
, screenwriter Steven Haberman
, film historian Scott Essman
horror expert Bob Burns
, and sculptor Brent Armstrong
, "He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce" documentary, "Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed" documentary, "Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy" featurette, "Universal Horror" feature-length documentary, poster montage with music, and theatrical trailers for all five original Mummy films.