Thursday, June 11, 2009
The poor Mummy. He's the red-headed-stepchild of the Universal Monsters. Dracula is sexier and more exotic. Frankenstein is also a reanimated body, but it's more gruesome how he was assembled from various body parts. Plus there's his striking appearance. The Wolf Man is steeped in European legend and he has that feral magnetism. The Invisible Man does those cool tricks, plus he could be standing right next to you and you wouldn't even know it. And the Creature/Gill Man is so damned cool-looking and he gets to chase beautiful women in bikinis to boot.
The Mummy is slow. He looks like a refugee from a rummage sale. He's not really based on legend or any classic literary source. Even though he was almost definitely inspired by Stoker's The Jewel of Seven Stars with a little bit of Arthur Conan Doyle's Lot Number 249 on the side.
But the most heinous indignity upon The Mummy is undoubtedly those ridiculous movies with Brendan Fraser. Those things only serve to fatten corrupt Hollywood swine and cheapen the memory of old Im Ho-Tep. The Mummy is like Rodney Dangerfield. Neither of them get any respect.
Except from me and other dinosaurs that love the old movies.
I always loved The Mummy. Simply because he is slow doesn't make him any less creepy. I remember as a kid, watching him drag that one leg. I remember shuddering like it was yesterday. I loved the Egyptian setting of the movie and how The Mummy is at least inspired by historical fact.
Despite how cool and awesome The Mummy is, he never got the motion picture deals that the others did. And I'm purposefully forgetting those recent abominations. The Mummy, made in 1932, did inspire several sequels. The Mummy's Hand, The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse all followed it, as did the obligatory Abbott and Costello farce. But The Mummy never got the superstardom that Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein enjoyed, with sequels, quasi-remakes and knock-offs continuing for decades to follow the classic monster years.
The Mummy did make cinematic appearances later. Hammer Studios did The Mummy in 1959, but it was one of their lesser Universal remakes. They attempted to make the monster scarier by making him faster, but it had the opposite effect on me. The same studio did a few unrelated and uninspired sequels, which do not rank among their better efforts.
Charlton Heston went up against a Mummy in 1980's The Awakening, but it induced more yawns than chills. The Mummy made an appearance in the much-beloved The Monster Squad, but he had a small part and was dispatched quickly. He was played for outrage and humor in Joe R. Lansdale's Bubba H0-Tep, which is probably the best Mummy movie since the very first one back in 1932.
Of course there have been numerous low budget Mummy movies over the years and few are worth mention.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention those wild Aztec Mummy movies with Ramón Ga, but they are a genre unto themselves.
The Mummy hasn't had the greatest history in literature either. In fact I'm having a difficult time coming up with any, with the exception of Anne Rice's book, which makes the Stephen Sommers movies look good. A Mummy appeared in Randall Boyll's amazing Mongster, but that was mainly for ghoulish laughs. Charles L. Grant did write a lovely homage to The Mummy called The Long Night of the Grave. But there are few others.
In fact, I'd like to see one of today's horror fictions stars give us a big, fat monster of a Mummy novel. Maybe since Edward Lee is taking a stab at classic monsters, he will give it a try. I bet Brian Keene could deal out a whopper of one too. Or Ronald Kelly.
I'm sure I'm forgetting some great books, probably by my favorite authors. Movies too. If you can think of any, drop by the forum and let me know.
In the meantime, lets raise our glasses in toast to one of the greatest monsters in Horror. The Mummy.