Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Mummy Trilogy

O Amon-Ra. O God of Gods. Death is but the doorway to new life —we live today; we shall live again….In many forms shall we return, O mighty one."
With these immortal utterances from the Scroll of Thoth, impetuous assistant Ralph Norton ( Branwall Fletcher ) conjured up to life the embalmed remains of 3,700 year old Im-ho-tep, an Ancient Egyptian priest. Shrouded in musty, tattered strips of cloth, Im-ho-tep’s eyes sleepily awoke to gaze at his resurrector before walking off with the scroll in quest of the reincarnation of the soul of his love, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon.
Before he ventures off to Cairo to search for his beloved he removes his bandaged covering and guises himself as a modern Egyptian….an Egyptian who bears a striking resemblance to none other than - Boris Karloff. Zoinks!
The 1932 version of The Mummy created by Dracula director Carl Laemmle Jr. started a box-office bonanza of mummy sagas which spanned over 80 years. To this day he remains quite a powerful character of horror despite his relatively recent creation. Whilst fiendish foes like our sanguinary Count Dracula or the Wolf Man or Frankenstein were developed from legends dating from the 1700-1800s, The Mummy was a character conceived solely for the purpose of this film.

Universal Studio’s story editor Richard Shay was commissioned by Carl Laemmle Jr. to write a Egyptian-themed horror story loosely based on the mystery surrounding the opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. Laemmle was pleased with a nine-page treatment Shay and writer Nina Wilcox Putnam developed about a 3,000 year old magician who never dies and hired John L. Balderstone to write a script surrounding it…he changed the name of our mummy to Im-ho-tep, after the famous architect of the period and history was made.
Although The Mummy was not favored by critics at the time of its release it still remains a cult horror classic and Universal saw enough potential in the story line to resurrect it in a re-make only eight years later, The Mummy's Hand. Unlike the first film, the Mummy remains under-cloth until his supposed demise at the finale of the film.

“ Anck-es-en-Amon, my love has lasted longer than the temples of our gods. No man ever suffered as I did for you. ”
Of course, with all good stories one re-telling is simply not enough and so out popped The Mummy's Tomb in 1942, a completely new take on the story. The writers even went so far as changing the mummy's name from Im-ho-tep to Kharis! This film was set in Massachusetts in the 1970s and featured Lon Chaney Jr. as the mummy, a role he was to reprise in the next two sequels.

The Mummy's Hand ( 1940 ) Western star Tom Tyler portrays the obedient Kharis who, with the aid of a little tana-leaf tea, is sent to kill the defilers of an Egyptian tomb ( played that other Western star, Dick Foran ). George Zucco co-stars as the control-agent of the ancient assassin, and Peggy Moran as his look-alike lover.
The Mummy's Tomb ( 1942 ) - Lon Chaney Jr. gets all wrapped up in the role of the mummy when he is taken to New England by an Egyptian priest to once again revenge the archeologists who defiled his tomb. Tsk, tsk, tsk…those archeologists are something else. Dick Foran, Turhan Bey and Elyse Knox star.
The Mummy's Ghost ( 1943 ) - While experimenting with the Egyptian practice of burning tana-leaves during a full moon to revive a mummy, a college professor "calls" the mummy to just so happens that one of the students at the college resembles his long-lost love, Princess Ananka. What a small world! Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Ramsay Ames, and Robert Lowery star.
The Mummy's Curse ( 1944 ) – By some inexplicable happening, the mummy and his ancient princess Anaka are found in a swamp in Louisiana by a construction crew – after they died in a bog in Massachusetts in the last film! In spite of this slight oversight, this film abounds with Bayou atmosphere and contains some great scenes. Dennis Moore, Holmes Herbert, Martin Kosleck, Kay Harding.
In 1958, Hammer Studios, the famed British film company known for horror films began a series of monster classics based on the original Universal Films..... The Curse of Frankenstein ( 1957 ) starring Christopher Lee, The Horror of Dracula ( 1958 ) also starring Christopher Lee, and of course The Mummy ( 1959 ) starring - you guessed it - Christopher Lee. This time shot in Eastmancolor it basically followed the same story line as The Mummy's Hand...namely, a follower of an Egyptian god of yore seeks out to revenge the sacrilege of the princess's tomb by sending the Mummy out to annihilate those who desecrated her gravesite. In this case, it is Stephan Banning and his expedition ( Peter Cushing, Felix Aylmer, and Raymond Huntley ) Once again the success of this film inspired a series of continuing stories....
The Mummy ( 1958 ) – Quite simply a colorized version of The Mummy’s Hand and the Mummy’s Tomb combined, although it has a nice twist at the end with Peter Cushing’s wife bearing a striking resemblance to Princess Anaka and thus saving him from strangulation.
Curse of the Mummy's Tomb ( 1964 ) – European Egyptologists discover the tomb of the ancient prince Ra and are intent on shipping the artifacts to London…against the wishes of someone dead intent on making sure they remain at their rightful place in Egypt. Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland, and Terence Morgan star.
The Mummy’s Shroud ( 1966 ) – Once again, The Mummy’s Hand remade. The only standout feature in this film is its corny tagline… “ Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet! ” Starring Andre Morell, John Phillips, and Elizabeth Sellars.
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb ( 1971 ) – In this retelling of the story there is quite a notable change…the mummy is not a man but a mommy! Yes, the shapely Valerie Leon portrays Queen Tera, an ancient Egyptian queen known for her magical powers. She has a few immortable powers up her sleeve too. James Villiers and Andrew Kier co-star.
But wait there's more! Ah yes, we come to the third set in the Mummy Trilogy. For all the little tikes that weren't born in the golden age of film Universal conjured up a new series of action-adventures in 1999 surrounding our beloved wrapped-up ghoul.
The Mummy ( 1999 ) – An English librarian and an American Foreign Legion officer accidentally unleash the curse of the ancient high-priest Im-ho-tep and must fight off the life-sucking mummy. Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and John Hannah star.
The Mummy Returns ( 2001 ) – In Ancient Egypt, the Scorpion King sold his soul to the god Anubi and was forgotten forever…until that is, Rick ( Brendan Fraser ) and his wife and son discover the bracelet of Anubis which leads them to oasis of Ahm Shere and the Scorpion King and his jackal headed henchmen’s revival. Rachal Weisz, John Hannah and Arnold Vosloo costar.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ( 2008 ) – The O’Connell family are once again fighting dead people, this time in the Far East where they must battle with a shape-shifting Samurai emperor cursed many a year ago by a witch. Brendan Fraser, Jet Li and Luke Ford star.

 Well, I think this here blog wraps up the trilogy series quite well...pardon the pun.
“ Death is only the beginning ”

1 comment:

  1. A most entertaining overview of the MUMMY movies. My favorite may be Hammer's THE MUMMY, which is admittedly derivative, but very well-paced and often exciting. I also like BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, which is very different (no surprise since it was adapted from a Bram Stoker novel).