Movie Review: The Mummy (1932)

More old school monster content coming your way! Woo!

Ladies and gentlemummies… “The Mummy”.

After some archaeologists manage to dig him out, ancient mummy Imhotep (Boris Karloff) goes searching for the reincarnation of his long lost love. As someone who watched the 1999 Brendan Fraser “Mummy” movie first when I was younger, that setup is familiar. Though this is of course a lot less action-focused, relying more on being an atmospheric procedural of sorts. And I think the story here is fine, it’s okay. At times it feels like a less fun and flamboyant “Dracula”, due to a similar story structure. And you guys know me, I don’t mind a bit of slow pacing, if it feels like it’s adding to a narrative, developing the plot and characters in interesting ways. But that’s not the case here, the pacing here is just slow-slow, with events simply transpiring without feeling that engaging. I’m sure someone out there loves the story here, and that’s great. But for me it’s just okay.

The characters in this are fine, they’re there to make story happen. The most interesting one is most definitely Imhotep, played by Boris Karloff. A well-spoken, conniving gentleman who just wants his love back. There’s something quite interesting going on there in that regard. And Karloff is of course great in that role. The rest of the cast, including Zita Johann, David Manners, Arthur Byron, and Edward Van Sloan (making his third Month of Spooks appearance this year) are all good… it’s just that their characters are a little underdeveloped.

Unlike the previous two Universal monster flicks I’ve talked about, this one actually has a bit of an actual musical score (fucking exciting, I know). It was composed by James Dietrich and shows up at a few key points. And I think it’s pretty good, helping sell the mysticism surrounding the Egyptian mythology used within the movie. So yeah, it’s good.

“The Mummy” is the first Universal monster not based on a specific novel, and it was directed by Karl Freund, who I think did a good job here. He knew how to build good atmosphere and he was good about what to show and what not to. He just did solid work here. And when paired with Charles Stumar’s really good cinematography, you get some really solid craft on display here.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.1/10.

While definitely my least favorite of the Universal monster movies I’ve seen so far, “The Mummy” is still a decently enjoyable little flick. It has an okay plot, meh characters, good performances, good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Mummy” is a 6.22/10. So while I don’t exactly love it, I still think it’s worth a rental.

My review of “The Mummy” is now completed.

That’s three Edward Van Sloan appearances in a week. Do you think I can get a free sandwich if I get one more?

One thought on “Movie Review: The Mummy (1932)

  1. In the context of its time, I suppose it must have seemed scary. Not so any longer, I feel. But Karloff is usually worth watching, and he makes this film work for me.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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