On this last day of Halloween Movie Madness Vic Sage and I decided it would be fun to review the same movie. So we decided to do the monster horror classic, The Mummy. We decided to take turns talking about it, with Vic going first followed by me. Sadly we had a bit of a communication breakdown along the way.
Vic: Friends, welcome to the last of the Movie Madness reviews for 2010, and to the left of this chair…I am still chained to…is none other than the Retroist himself. I want to thank him for coming all the way down to this dungeon to join me today so we can talk about this pretty interesting entry in the Universal Monsters pantheon. I’m not sure if you’ll agree with me, Retroist, but I can’t recall another classic monster movie quite like the Mummy. I mean Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolfman are sympathetic creatures but the horror of their existence or actions is the main point of their films. With the Mummy we have…a love story, I guess? What do you think about it?
Retroist: I agree a romance and one on several fronts You have the romance between Rick and Evelyn, the romance between Ihmotep and Anck Su Namun and of course the romance between Jonathan and treasure :P
Vic: At the beginning of the film we are given a pretty strong hook with a wall of heiroglyphics when a title card that translates it as, “This is Scroll of Thoth. Herein are set down the magic words by which Isis raised Osiris from the dead.” It continues with, “Oh! Amon-Ra–Oh! God of Gods–Death is but the doorway to new life–We live today-We shall live again–In many forms shall we return-Oh, mighty one.” Thus does the film find a way to set up the gist of the movie with that simple title card, and off subject, but it also describes the backstory for DC comics Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Ha, ha.
Retroist: I guess I missed this part at the start of the film.
Vic: We see from a wooden sign at some Egyptian ruins that reads, “Field Expedition, Season 1921, British Museum” A group of archaeologists have set up a makeshift office of sorts near their dig site and we are introduced to Sir Joseph Whemple (Byron), Ralph Norton (Fletcher), and Occult expert Dr. Muller (Sloan). Whemple is trying to teach Norton some patience, reminding the younger man that more information is gained by the broken shards of pottery than the sarcophagus and decaying box they found next to it.
Retroist: Wait, who are these people? Did you see some sort of extended version of the film?
Vic: Dr. Muller warns the other two after translating the threat of a curse on any who open the box, which turns out to be from the temple of Amon-Ra. Whemple and Norton are skeptical but the older man agrees to listen to Muller’s concerns outside. The good Doctor informs Norton to leave the box alone while they are away…but curiosity gets the better of him and he finds the scroll of Thoth and just has to translate it.
Retroist: I never saw any of that. Are you sure you didn’t watch The Mummy Returns? I didn’t see that one yet. The Mummy starts with the cool scenes back in ancient Egypt and you have that cool battle scene with Brendan Fraser?
Vic: We next see the same dig site, but ten years has passed and we meet Frank Whemple (Manners) and his friend Professor Pearson (Mudie), their own expedition not being nearly as successful as the the elder Whemple’s visit. They are packing things up and ready to admit defeat when a stranger comes knocking on their shanty door. The strangers introduces himself as Ardath Bey (Karloff), being Egyptian he is not permitted to dig up the deceased but he claims to know the location of Princess Ankh-es-en-amon. Retroist, I dare you to say the Princess’s name three time fast.
Retroist: Say it? I don’t even know who that is? I decided to look this up and I found out their was a Mummy movie back in the 30s. Is that what you were watching?
Vic: After directing the two men to the spot where he claims it will take only one day to unearth, the diggers hit pay dirt and indeed find the Princess’s tomb, Pearson makes the statement that they need to cable the elder Whemple as he should be there before they open the tomb. We next see the headlines to the Egyptian Mail newspaper that declares that Sir Joseph Whemple has returned to supervise the find near Thebes. We are then shown the Cairo museum, a sign explains the British Museum Field Force have turned over all their findings from the tomb to their Egyptian counterparts. Within the museum we see Ardath Bey looking…longingly…down at the Princess’s mummified remains. Meanwhile over at some fancy party we are introduced to Helen Grosvenor (Johann) as she herself looks longingly at the Pyramids off in the distance. We learn from some of the party goers that Helen is the daughter of the Governor of the Sudan.
Retroist: Okay, I think we had some sort of communication glitch. I watched the Mummy from 1999.
Vic: Hidden away in the museum, Adath Bay reads from an ancient scroll which calls to Helen at the party and in a trance like state she is called to him. The museum is closed for the night however and she merely bangs on the outside of the door until she is noticed Frank, he tries to talk to her but she ends up feinting on the steps. Frank brings her to his father’s home where she mumbles quietly in ancient Egyptian a name, “Imhotep”. Perhaps we should stop with any further spoilers here?
Retroist: No, go on. I want to hear more about this movie. It kind of sounds cool.
Vic: I think we need to really mention how awesome Frank Pierce really was, the make-up for Karloff in this film really is just awesome.
Retroist: Wow, your version of the movie has Boris Karloff in it?
Vic: I don’t know about you but I think that Mummy deserves a very solid four pumpkins out of five. It’s not my favorite of the Universal pantheon of monsters, that would be the Wolfman, but the film entertains to be sure. My only gripe is with the ending…just kind of seems like they glanced at their pocket watches and realized they had run out of time. Ha, ha.
Retroist: If it is anything like the re-make, then they probably were planning on a sequel the whole time they were making it. The 1999 version of the film end with an obvious sequel in the planning.
Vic: Oh, hey, thank you. I hadn’t noticed you unlocked those manacles earlier. The way out is over there through that door…ah, time to get me a bucket of beef jerky and maybe catch up on some gaming. Hey, wait a minute there is another room behind this door…what are all these film canisters doing here? I can hardly make out this note, “For Movie Madness 2011! Get to work!”. O, Lord! O, Jesus Christ!
Retroist: Well, Vic, this communication breakdown makes me think you aren’t ready for the outside world. Plus your contract says that you were supposed to review The Mummy, the 1999 Mummy. So just sit down and start watching those movies and this time next year we can talk about letting you out of the movie lab.
Well that ends another year of Halloween Movie Madness. 2010 was a great year and I would just like to thank Vic Sage for doing such an amazing job on all 31 of his films. Let’s just hope next year he reads his instructions better.
Now back to work you….