There have been many more motion pictures of varying lengths and qualities about the reanimated, mummified dead than appear in this filmography. These films range from a handful of amusing silent shorts in the teens and twenties, to the Mummy Dearest hardcore pornographic comedies of the early ’90s. Like any motion picture subgenre, mummy movies tend to expose the inherent flaws and limitations of the premise, but in this instance, and after nearly a century, they also point to its broad appeal and tenacious durability. To be sure there is greatness and near-greatness here, just as certainly as there are embarrassing wastes of celluloid.
The following is offered as a highly selective reference checklist of 45 cinematic efforts with which any self-respecting mummy movie lover should be familiar.
Movies are in alphabetical order:
Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy (Universal-International, 1955) After a disastrous tussle with the IRS and declining interest in their films, the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello hit pay dirt in 1948 with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Its success led to a series of other similar encounters: Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer Boris Karloff (1949), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), and Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953 again co-starring Karloff). Meeting the Mummy marked their final rendezvous withmonsterdom, and in fact it was the team’s last feature film for Universal as well as their last film together. This one has Lou swallowing a sacred medallion and being pursued by the beautiful but mysterious Madam Rontru (Marie Windsor), the sinister high priest, Professor Semu (Richard Deacon), the leader of a secret cult, and Klaris (stuntman Edwin Parker), a 4,000 year old mummy returned to life. It is perhaps the least of their comedy/monster efforts but it is not without some decent laughs and a modicum of charm, as well as a great musical number by vocalist Peggy King.
Amazing Stories (Universal, TV Movie, 1987) This is a compilation TV movie of three episodes from Steven Spielberg’s short-lived series Amazing Stories. The episodes are The Mission, Mummy, Daddy (both 1985) and Go to the Head of the Class (1986). For more about Mummy, Daddy, see below.
Attack of the Mayan Mummy (a.k.a. The Mummy Strikes—not to be confused with the Max Fleischer Superman cartoon of the same name [see below]—Medallion , 1964) Rafael López Portillo directed a series of Spanish-language films in Mexico about Popoca, a 2,000 year old Aztec mummy. This 1964 effort by producer/director Jerry Warren is a retread (and a retitling) of the first in the series, La Momia Azteca, incorporating much of the original footage from 1957.
The Awakening (Orion/EMI/British Lion, 1980) This is the second of three attempts to adapt Bram Stoker’s 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars to film (see Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb and Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy). Charton Heston emulates an unconvincing British accent to play archaeologist Matthew Corbeck, a man obsessed with the ruthless Queen Kara who died in ancient Egypt 3,800 years ago. At the very moment Corbeck opens Kara’s tomb, his wife (Susannah York) gives birth to a daughter (later played by Stephanie Zimbalist) who is the reincarnation of the evil queen. Although slow moving and at times confusing, there is some wonderful Egyptian location footage by cinematographer Jack Cardiff and a brief, chilling moment when daughter Margaret glances into a mirror to see the mummified face of Kara.
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (EMI Film Productions, 1971) One of the most interesting of Hammer’s mummy films, this first screen version of Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars was hampered by the death of director Seth Holt before the film could be completed. Still it remains highly effective with outstanding performances by Andrew Keir (as archaeologist Julian Fuchs) and Valerie Leon as possessed daughter Margaret. Professor Fuchs opens the tomb of the evil Queen Tera at the exact moment of his daughter’s birth.
Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy (a.k.a. Bram Stoker’s The Mummy, A-Pix Entertainment, made-for-cable movie, 1997) The third time, unfortunately, is not the charm. This wretched version of The Jewel of Seven Stars is conspicuously cheap and squanders the talents of Louis Gossett, Jr. (as John Corbeck with a British accent even worse than Heston’s), Lloyd Bockner (as archaeologist Abel Trelawney) and Amy Locane (as Trelawney’s daughter, Margaret). In addition to evil Queen Tera’s (Rachel Naples) plot to inhabit Margaret’s body, this one also has a killer mummy in the basement. It doesn’t help.
El Castillo de los Monstruos (a.k.a. Castle of the Monsters, Sotomayor Productions/Columbia, 1957) The comedy team of Clavillazo (Antonio Espino) and Evangélina Elizondo star in this Mexican haunted castle monster jamboree that includes knock-offs of all the classic Universal monsters, including the Mummy. Remade in 1961 as Frankenstein, El Vampiro y Cia.
El Castillo de las Momias de Gaunajuato (Producciones Filmicas Agrasanchez, 1972) Wrestlers and mummies were a hot combination in the Mexican cinema of the ’60s and ’70s. This is the third installment in the Las Momias de Gaunajuato series and a direct sequel to Robo de las Momias de Guanajuato release earlier in the year.
Chabelo y Pepito contra los Monstruos (El Patrocino De EN, 1973) As with El Castillo de los Monstruos, this is another horror comedy with a bevy of raging monsters, one of which is a mummy. This time the comedy team is Xavier Lopéz (Chabelo) and Martin Ramos (Pepito).
Curse of the Aztec Mummy (Original title: La Maldición de la Momia Azteca , Cinematográfica Calderón, 1961) This is the English-language version of the second film in Rafael Portillo’s popular Aztec Mummy series. The sinister Bat (a.k.a. Dr. Krupp, played by Luis Aceves Castañeda) conspires to extract information about a lost treasure guarded by the fearsome Popoca from Flora (Rosita Arenas), who is the reincarnated Aztec Princess Xochitl. Several wrestlers join in and mix it up, led by El Angel (Crox Alvarado).
Curse of the Faceless Man (United Artists, 1958) Jerome Bixby had been a musical prodigy and a gifted science fiction writer before setting sail for Hollywood and a life of frustration and virtual obscurity. He did write the screenplays for It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), an effective low-budget thriller that later inspired Alien (1979), and this, another shoestring production with many promising components but little punch. There’s a marvelous faceless mummy costume designed and constructed by Charles Gemora who designed the Martian for George Pal’s The War of the Worlds (1953), direction by Eddie Cahn whose films (Creature with the Atom Brain , Invasion of the Saucer Men , It! The Terror from Beyond Space), though never masterpieces, were always at least interesting, and the film does possess handsome leads in the persons of Richard Anderson and Elaine Edwards. Quintilius Aurelius (Bob Bryant) is an Etruscan slave who is buried alive during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Revived 2,000 years later when his body is exhumed in an excavation of Pompeii, Quintilius goes in search of his lost love, now reincarnated in the form of beautiful young artist Tina Enright (Edwards). Narration by an uncredited Morris Ankrum holds the storyline together, but the performances by the on screen cast are consistently leaden, making the Faceless Man himself seem quite lively by comparison. It has a few chilling moments when Quintilius springs to life.
The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (Columbia, 1964) While not a sequel to the1959 version of The Mummy, this is the second of four unrelated mummy movies produced by Hammer Films. When flamboyant American showman Alexander King (Fred Clark) brings the mummy of Pharaoh Ra-Antef (Dickie Owen) to England, the mummy is brought to life by his centuries old brother, Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan), to commit murders of vengeance. Talk about holding a grudge! Some effective moments on the fog-shrouded streets of London compensate for an otherwise thin and doubtful plot.
The Demon and the Mummy (Universal/ABC-TV, TV Movie, 1975) A compilation of two episodes from the TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker: Demon in Lace and Legacy of Terror (both 1975). See Legacy of Terror below.
“The Laughing Mummy” (MPTV Television, 1954) This especially spooky show is a segment from the TV series Sherlock Holmes imported from England in the 1950s and starring Ronald Howard as the famous shamus, with H. Marion Crawford as his sidekick, Dr. Watson. Holmes and Watson are summoned by a friend (Barry Mackay) to investigate when a mummy takes to laughing out loud in the dead of night. Although the mystery winds up without a supernatural cause, the episode has some chilling moments.
“Legacy of Terror” (Universal/ABC-TV, 1975) After the wildly successful made-for-TV movie The Night Stalker and its interesting sequel The Night Strangler, star Darren McGavin and Francy Productions embarked on a promising weekly series for ABC-TV entitled, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Carl Kolchak is a Chicago-based reporter with a penchant for bizarre assignments that take him into various realms of the fantastic. Several of the early episodes, such as The Zombie, for example, are extremely chilling and effective, but advertisers quickly grew wary of the show, fearful that its propensity for mad science and the occult would ultimately reflect unfavorably on their products. After much interference from the network, Kolchak degenerated into a toothless monster show with an infusion of ineffective comedy to soften the material. As a result, the show lasted for only twenty episodes. Legacy of Terror is one of the few episodes that fares reasonably well after the tampering and was later included with another segment, Demon In Lace, in a compilation TV film entitled The Demon and the Mummy. A sun-worshipping cult seeks fresh human hearts for the purpose of reviving the ancient mummy of an Aztec sorcerer. Latin heart throb Erik Estraba plays hotel executive Pepe Torres, a target of the cultists.
La Lunchadoras Contra la Momia (a.k.a.The Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy; Rock ‘n’ Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy, Cinematográfica Calderón, 1964) Something of a sequel to both The Robot versus the Aztec Mummy and Doctor of Doom, this film initiates yet another series, this time featuring shapely, scantily clad female wrestlers. A sinister Asian crime syndicate attempts to acquire the necklace of Princess Xochitl from an Aztec tomb guarded by the mummy of an ancient sorcerer named Tezomoc. Not just your average reanimated mummy, Tezomoc can transform himself into bats and spiders. While great, mindless fun, this is not likely to be confused with Citizen Kane.
La Mansion de las 7 Momias (a.k.aMansion deBlue Demon, Superzán, 1975) Masked wrestlers led by Santo (Rudolfo Guzmán Huertal) and Blue Demon (Alejandro Muñoz) descend on the mansion of the seven mummies. One in a series of films starring the popular Santo.
La Momia Azteca (a.k.a. The Aztec Mummy: see Attack of the Mayan Mummy, Cinematográfia Calderón, 1957) The first of Rafael Portillo’s Aztec mummy series about Popoca, the ancient warrior who guards the tomb of Princess Xochitl (Rosita Arenas). This includes wrestling stars Lobo Negro (Guillermo Hernández) and El Murciélago (Jesús Velazquez), with Luis Aceves Castenéda as the sinister Dr. Krupp. Krupp (a.k.a. The Bat) is up to no good as he conspires to steal sacred jewelry that will lead him to a hidden Aztec treasure.
La Momia Azteca Contra el Robot Humano (a.k.a. The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, Cinematográfia Calderón, 1957) Entry number three in Portillo’s Popoca the Aztec Mummy series has the sinister Dr. Krupp (Luis Aceves Castanéda) attempting to secure the sacred jewelry he failed to capture in the previous films with the use of a robot. The robot, a creation of the mad doctor himself, has a human brain. Unfortunately, no one else associated with this series seems to.
Las Momias de Guanajuato (Niño Julio Cesar/Clasa-Mohme, 1970) Masked wrestlers combat radio-controlled mummies in this wildly popular wrestlers vs. monsters film. Followed by three sequels, one of which again pits the wrestlers against “living” mummies: El Robo de las Momias de Guanajuato (1972 see below).
Las Momias de San Angel (a.k.a. Terror en San Angel, Aztec Films, 1973) Mummies and the ghost of a hunchback haunt an old mansion. Masked wrestlers, as usual, come to the rescue, led by Thousand Masks (Mil Máscaras). This film was followed in 1973 by a sequel entitled, Los Vampiros de Coyoacan.
The Monster Squad (Tri-Star, 1987) The brilliant Fred Dekker co-wrote and directed this reuniting of the classic Universal monsters without that studio’s co-operation, thus all the monsters are cleverly and effectively redesigned while still retaining their “classic” look. Along with a really neat Gill Man ringer (by Steve Wang and Tom Woodruff, Jr.) is one of the screen’s most convincing mummies (Michael McKay). The film stars André Gower and Robby Kiger with creature designs by Stan Winston. Although targeted for a juvenile audience, this is a must see for monster fans of all ages.
The Mummy (Universal, 1932) Languidly paced and quite restrained by modern standards, this is the one true masterpiece of the mummy movie subgenre. The film features horror superstar Boris Karloff as Ardath Bey/Im-Ho-Tep, exotic beauty Zita Johann as Helen Grosvenor/Anck-es-en-Amon, Edward Van Sloan, as occult expert Dr. Muller, and David Manners as Egyptologist Frank Whemple. The 1921 expedition of Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) uncovers an unholy tomb in a region of the Egyptian desert just north of the Valley of the Kings. Sir Joseph and Dr. Muller leave the excavation and return moments later to find that Whemple’s young assistant, Ralph Norton (Branwell Fletrcher), has been driven mad and that the mummy of the high priest Im-Ho-Tep has been stolen. Missing also is the sacred Scroll of Thoth—a scroll reputed to restore life to the dead. Eleven years later Sir Joseph’s son Frank is led to the tomb of Princess Anck-es-en-Amon by a peculiar Egyptian scholar named Ardath Bey, who in reality is the mummy Im-Ho-Tep transmuted into the semblance of a living man. Im-Ho-Tep and Anck-es-en-Amon were lovers 3,700 years ago and the high priest now seeks to restore the princess to life. What makes this a classic is its subtlety, its pervading lurid atmosphere of the occult and its effective and largely understated performances.
Karloff’s brilliant make-up by Jack Pierce is highlighted in the now famous scene in which the eager Ralph Norton reads the sacred scroll against the instructions of Sir Joseph, bringing the mummy to life. Remade by Universal in 1999 and followed by a sequel in 2001 entitled, The Mummy Returns. More recent additions to this revived Universal franchise have relegated the Mummy to a secondary character.
The Mummy (Universal-International. 1959) This interesting effort by the famous Hammer Studios is not strictly a remake of the 1932 Karloff vehicle, as has often and erroneously been reported, but is rather an amalgam of elements and storylines from The Mummy, The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942). Egyptologist Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer) is driven mad when he inadvertently brings a mummy to life while reading the sacred Scroll of Life during the opening of the tomb of the Princess Ananka. Three years later the mummy, that of the high priest Kharis (Christopher Lee), has been brought to England by Mehemet (George Pastell), a member of a secret Egyptian religious cult, for the purpose of avenging the defiling of Ananka’s tomb. As with Im-Ho-Tep and Anck-es-en-Amon, Kharis and Ananka shared a forbidden love 4,000 years ago. This first color film based on the “classic” Universal Mummy movies is well acted and handsomely mounted and also stars Peter Cushing as John Banning, and the beautiful Yvonne Furneaux as John Banning’s wife, Isobel. Isobel, although not a reincarnation of Ananka in this version, bears a striking resemblance to the Egyptian Princess. As with his portrayal of the monster in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Lee proves himself a master of movement and body language in his powerfully shambling interpretation of the mummy Kharis.
“The Mummy” (20th Century Fox/ABC-TV, 1967) From Irwin Allen’s TV version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, this juvenile entry from the show’s third season has little bite. Thehigh-tech submarine Seaview transports a sarcophagus containing a 3,000-year-old mummy. The mummy comes to life, casts a spell on Captain Crane (David Hedison), walks through a few thin-as-paper bulkheads and is finally laid to rest by the resourceful Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart) and the crew.
The Mummy (Universal, 1999) Universal’s big-budget state-of-the-art special effects extravaganza intended to merge the action/adventure sensibilities of the Indiana Jones movies with the narrative of Im-Ho-Tep (now Imhotep) and his forbidden love for Anck-es-en-Amon—this time with the emphasis in the name changed to Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velazquez). Brendan Fraser plays adventurer Rick O’Connell, with Rachel Weisz as Evelyn and Arnold Vosloo as a beefy Imhotep. Bloated, mindless fun with a CGI mummy that resembles the Michelin Tire Man, there is not a single shutter to be found in its two hours and five minutes of running time. Followed in 2001 by a sequel, The Mummy Returns and at least two others since, the Mummy has since become somewhat incidental to the series.
The Mummy (Passport Video, 1999) This direct-to-video documentary is a compilation of great scenes from a broad range of films about the living dead—especially mummies. Narrated by Christopher Lee, the video was produced to capitalize on the hype over the release of the 1999 Universal remake.
The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (Academy Home Entertainment, 1985) Originally filmed but unfinished in 1969, this outlandish effort sat on a shelf for more than 15 years before being assembled and released to home video. The inclusion of a were-creature, a humanoid jackal played by Anthony Eisley, may have suggested the CGI-created bipedal jackals of The Mummy Returns (2001). But I doubt it. Also suffering through the festivities is John Carradine in a cameo role.
“Mummy, Daddy” (1985) An episode of Steven Spielberg’s short-live anthology television series, Amazing Stories, this segment is both effective and amusing. An actor in a horror movie playing a mummy (Tom Harrison) is mistaken for the real thing in the Southern swamps as he races, still in costume, to the hospital where his wife is giving birth. In the meantime a real mummy, that of Ra-Amin-Ka (Michael Zand), is indeed terrorizing the community.
The Mummy Lives (Cannon Pictures, 1993) This Canadian film, produced by the notorious Harry Alan Towers, is purportedly based on the Edgar Allen Poe short story, “Some Words with a Mummy.” Tony Curtis, of all people, appears as Dr. Mohassid, the transformed mummy of Azim, who seeks vengeance on those who violated his tomb. Unspeakably bad, low-budget fare proving once again that some dead things simply can’t be revived.
The Mummy Returns (Universal, 2001) More bloated than its predecessor, if such a thing is possible, this installment finds Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) married and with a son, Alex (Freddie Boath). The adventurers are dragged back to Egypt when young Alex discovers a bracelet with magical powers. Arnold Vosloo returns as Imhotep, the seductive Patricia Velazquez reprises and expands her role as Anck-Su-Namun and wrestling superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays the Scorpion King in an on-screen appearance that seriously reveals the limitations of CGI special effects. Absurd, but still entertaining, the addition of the WWF’s Dwayne Johnson should have mummy fans wondering if the return of the masked wrestlers of Mexico isn’t far behind. For more information, buy a ticket.
Mummy’s Boys (RKO, 1936) – This unfunny comedy starring the bargain basement team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey has the usual antics with a stolen treasure and a string of murders attributed to a 3,000 year old mummy. As if suffering through the interminable routines were not enough, the mummy turns out to be a fake.
The Mummy’s Curse (Universal, 1944) The last, and probably the least, of Universal’s Kharis mummy films, this one starts out promisingly with the resurrection of Ananka (marvelously pantomimed by Virginia Christine) in a dried swamp bed in the Louisiana bayou country. (In the previous film, Ananka had gone down with Kharis [Lon Chaney] in a New England marsh!) By the time this movie was released the storyline had been played out and Chaney had lost what little interest he might have had in the non-speaking role of Kharis. Making matters worse was its brevity (only 62 minutes), a truly wooden performance by Dennis Moore (as Dr. James Halsey) and poorly written roles for arch villain Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) and his accomplice Ragheb (Martin Kosleck). This is the direct sequel to The Mummy’s Ghost (1944).
Mummy’s Dummies (Columbia, 1948) Lacking much of the verve of the earlier Three Stooges shorts, this one features Shemp Howard standing in for his late brother “Curly,” who often carried these mini-comedies with his outrageous antics. This one finds the Stooges being pursued by a mummy in ancient Rome.
The Mummy’s Dungeon (In Dire Straits Productions, 1993) This lowest of low budget films went direct to video where it has been mercifully forgotten. Photographer’s models are being sacrificed in order to bring the 2,000-year-old mummy in Rameses Karis’s (Dave Castiglione) basement to life.
The Mummy’s Ghost (Universal, 1944) – This is the third of Universal’s Kharis films, following in direct sequel toThe Mummy’s Tomb (1942). After being severely burned in a fire at the Banning mansion, Kharis (Lon Chaney) is called forth from the wild by the aroma of boiling Tana leaves dissolved in a brazier by Yusef Bey (John Carradine), a high priest of Arkam. Bey’s mission is to reunite Kharis with the mummy of his long-dead lover, Princess Ananka, which is now on display at the Scripps Museum. After killing the museum’s night guard and preparing to resurrect the Princess, Ananka’s mummy crumbles to dust revealing that her spirit has moved on through reincarnation into another body. The body inhabited by Anaka’s spirit is that of the delightful Amina Mansouri (Ramsay Ames), a beautiful Egyptian work-study student who is assisting Egyptology Professor Matthew Norman (Frank Reicher) at the local university. The story’s powerful finale, in which Kharis carries the unconscious Amania into a marsh as she slowly transforms into a hideous, white-haired corpse, is one of the eeriest scenes to appear in any mummy movie. The film also stars Robert Lowery as Amina’s college sweetheart, Tom Hervey, and Barton MacLane as Police Inspector Walgreen. Followed by The Mummy’s Curse, released later in the same year.
The Mummy’s Hand (Universal, 1940) This is the first and best of Universal’s movies about high priest Kharis, the living mummy, condemned by the gods to spend eternity protecting the tomb of his lover, Princess Ananka. The handsome, athletic Tom Tyler portrays Kharis and in certain close-ups repeated throughout the film, Tyler’s make-up—by the great Jack Pierce, looks especially effective and terrifying. These inserts can be readily discerned by the fact that Kharis’ eyes appear deep black and in constant, furtive movement (an effect achieved with cel animation over live action footage) and that the backgrounds seldom match the scenes in which they appear. For 3,000 years the mummy of Kharis has been kept alive by the secret cult of Karnak, a sect that administers a serum to the monster made from Tana leaves; the leaves of a low shrub found only in Egypt and now long extinct. Three leaves dissolved in liquid during the cycle of the full Moon will keep Kharis’ ancient heart beating; the fluid from nine of the leaves will give him mobility—more than nine will “transform him into a raging monster such as the world has never known!” Charged with the responsibility of tending to Kharis is Professor Andoheb (George Zucco), a high priest of the secret cult and a curator of Egyptian relics at the Cairo Museum. It is through his association with the museum that Andoheb learns of an expedition headed by archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Foran) to locate the tomb of the Princess Ananka. Accompanying Banning are his sidekick “Babe” Jenson (Wallace Ford), the expedition’s financier, a Brooklyn magician named Tom Sullivan (Cecil Kellaway) who goes by the stage name of the Great Solvani, and Sullivan’s pretty daughter, Marta (Peggy Moran). On finding the outer chamber of the tomb and the mummy of Kharis, members of the expedition experience violent deaths at the hands of an unseen phantom who leaves behind traces of mold on the necks of its victims. Although this lacks the class and quiet reserve of Karloff’s The Mummy, The Mummy’s Hand is clearly one of the jewels of Universal’s second horror cycle. Scenes from the 1932 The Mummy appear in a flashback sequence during which Eduardo Ciannelli, as an aging high priest of Karnak, passes the charge of caring for Kharis to Andoheb. The Mummy’s Hand is followed by three sequels: The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse (both 1944).
“The Mummy Strikes” (Paramount, 1943) Beginning in early 1941, the Max Fleischer Studio began producing a groundbreaking series of cartoon shorts based on the Action Comics hero, Superman. By the end of 1942, after creating nine episodes of the series, Fleischer was released from his obligation to Paramount and production of thecartoons was taken over by the New York office of Paramount’s Famous Studios. Remarkably, the small studio was able to sustain the quality of the earlier episodes, despite their labor-intensive nature. The Mummy Strikes is exciting and extremely well done for a “naturalistic” animated short, with plenty of story and action shoehorned into its scant seven minute running time. Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander provide the voices of reports Clark Kent and Lois Lane who investigate the death of Dr. Jordan, an Egyptologist who attempts to open the sarcophagus of King Tush. When the lid is finally lifted, an amulet around the mummy’s neck brings the Pharaoh’s giant mummified guards to life.
The Mummy’s Revenge (a.k.a. La Venganza de la Momia, Sara Films, 1973) Actor and auteur Paul Naschy will certainly not be a stranger to monster movie fans and is true royalty in the admittedly limited sphere of the Spanish horror film. This particular outing has Naschy in duel roles as both the ruthless Pharaoh Amen-Ho-Tep and the enigmatic Arab who brings the 3,000-year-old mummy of the Pharaoh to life. As if duel roles were not enough, Naschy also wrote the script.
The Mummy’s Shroud (20th Century-Fox, 1967) The third of Hammer Studio’s unrelated mummy films, this one stars Andre Morell as Sir Basil Walden whose archaeological team discovers the tomb of Kah-to-Bey. The mummies of Kah-to-Bey and his guardian Prem are transported to Cairo where a sacred inscription on the shroud wrapped around Kah-to-Bey’s body is used by Hasmid Ali (Roger Delgado) to resurrect the murderous Prem. Actress Maggie Kimberly plays the pivotal role of Claire deSangre. Despite a few tense moments, this is generally an inferior outing with its star, Andre Morell, getting killed off long before the movie ends.
The Mummy’s Tomb (Universal, 1942) This much maligned but richly entertaining entry in Universal’s Kharis mummy series is my personal favorite of the four picture cycle. It is now 30 years after the conclusion of the last film and the fanatical Professor Andoheb (George Zucco), shot and left for dead by “Babe” Jenson (Wallace Ford) in The Mummy’s Hand (to which this is the direct sequel), returns. Crippled from his brush with death and withered with age, Andoheb tells the story of Ananka and Kharis in flashback to disciple Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey), then charges Bey with bringing Kharis (Lon Chaney) to America to kill off the last surviving members of the Banning expedition. Concurrent with Andoheb’s account, we see an elderly Steve Banning sitting in his livingroom narrating the story of the expedition’s encounter with the living mummy to his son’s fiancée (Elyse Knox), and of Kharis’ apparent death by fire. In the quiet, rural New England town of Mapleton, Mehemet Bey assumes the role of caretaker for the local cemetery, secretly sending Kharis out at night during the cycle of the full Moon to accomplish his mission of vengeance. The scenes of Kharis shambling through the cemetery in the windswept night are the stuff of which the fantasies of Halloween night are made. Dubbed the “Mapelton Monster” by the local press, Kharis succeeds in polishing off the last of the survivors before being consumed yet again by a raging fire in the Banning home. This is the first of Chaney’s three appearances as the mummy, Kharis. Followed by The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse, both released in 1944.
Pharaoh’s Curse (United Artists, 1957) This is my personal favorite of the mummy subgenre. Released in tandem with Voodoo Island, it was produced by Howard W. Koch for Bel Air Productions and released through United Artists. Despite my enthusiasm for it, this rarely seen, unpretentious effort is unlikely to win many followers, yet it possesses an eerie, dreamlike quality rare for a motion picture of its modest means. It stars a leaden Mark Dana as Captain Storm, the exotic Israeli actress Ziva Shapir as Simira (a personification of the Cat Goddess Bast[et]), and a solid supporting cast that includes Diane Brewster, Alvara Guillot and George Neise. An expedition led by opportunistic adventurer Robert Quintin (Neise) invades the tomb of Pharaoh Ra-Ha-Teb, who in life was a devotee of the Cat God Bubasti. Simira’s brother, Numar (Guillot) is taken ill when the sarcophagus of the pharaoh’s high priest is opened. Numar’s body is invaded by the spirit of the high priest and is rapidly transformed into that of a 4,000 year old, blood-drinking mummy. What follows is atmospheric filmmaking that appreciates the power of dark places and of horrors briefly glimpsed.
El Robo de las Momias de Guanajuato (Clasa-Mohme, 1972) A sequel to Las Momias de Guanajuato, this film deals with a group of masked wrestlers and their attempt to thwart a plot by Count Cagliostro (played by director Tito Novaro) and his electronically controlled mummies to take over the world.
The Tomb (Trans World Entertainment, 1985) Despite the good intentions of auteur Fred Olen Ray, this effort to pay homage to the Universal “classics” is hampered by a miniscule budget and a distinct lack of taste—which doesn’t preclude the fact that it’s still fun to watch! Treasure hunters inadvertently release vampire sorceress Queen Nefratis (Michelle Bauer) from her tomb. Enjoyable cameos by the likes of Cameron Mitchell and John Carradine briefly elevate the festivities. Famed stripper Kitten Natividad also appears in some versions of the film.
We Want Our Mummy (Columbia, 1938) The first of two Three Stooges shorts dealing with the subject of mummies. The mummy of Pharaoh Rutentuten has seemingly sprung to life as three bumbling private investigators attempt to locate a missing Egyptologist. As usual, great, brain-deadening fun.
Vincent di Fate is a science fiction/fantasy artist who’s work spans decades. He has been heralded as “one of the top illustrators of science fiction” by People and has several mantles full of Lifetime Achievement awards from the SFF community.