The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Mummy (1932)

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Usually the fourth of the big four, after Dracula, Wolf Man, and Frankenstein, the Mummy gained a resurgence in popular culture with the adventure films starring Brendan Fraser. Good for him. No more fighting Mexican wrestlers-- though, really, is a Brendan Fraser blockbuster better than fighting a Mexican wrestler?

The Mummy takes place in the 1920s, when an archaeological expedition turns up a mummy and all kinds of other great stuff. They find a parchment, and it reads of a curse, which one of the guys warns them would be bad news if they unleash it. Of course, they do, and the mummy comes to life, played by Boris Karloff (well, Karloff playing Abe Vigoda playing the mummy). He wants to turn the reincarnated woman who was his wife into a mummy like him so they can be happy together forever, but she's kind of not into it, because she likes being alive as her new self. Can the professor who warned them about the curse save them from it before the mummy turns her into a mummy too?

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If Frankenstein was about what it means to be human, and Dracula explored mortality, than The Mummy was about the power of romantic love. 3000 years before, the guy who would become the mummy tries to resurrect his dead wife, and is caught and sentenced to death by being buried alive for his sacrilegious acts. Then, 3000 years later, when the curse brings him back to life, his lone goal is to find the woman that was his wife reincarnated, and carry out a ritual that would make her his wife forever. On the one hand, it's romantic to see what he went through for love, but on the other, it underscores the importance of both, moving on when she's no longer there, and thinking of what is in her best interests as a woman. Unlike the modern Romantic Comedy, the mummy's stalking and manipulations don't pay off, and out of all the messages this film had, that is the best one to send to any guy out there who's considering behavior that might lead to a restraining order.

I have to believe the only reason why Abe Vigoda wasn't cast in this role was because he was only 11 when it was released. Boris Karloff was Abe Vigoda as the Mummy. It angers me that the new Mummy didn't cast Abe Vigoda, when it was so obvious that the original role was intended for him. This is why I hate Hollywood so much. What ignoramus thinks it's better to not cast Abe Vigoda in his stupid mummy blockbuster adventure? Your movie's already a brainless big budget sack of asscrack meant solely to make money, with zero artistic value whatsoever-- what difference does having Abe Vigoda as the Mummy make? You want to know the difference? It would show that the people who made the movie had a brain, as opposed to just being an assembly line produced summer blockbuster.

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Did I sound angry there? I think I have a right to be. Hollywood is like pro boxing: they never give us the fight or the film we want. But now there's a UFC giving us the fights we want, just like there's DVD, and VHS before that, giving us the better versions of these films before they were turned into brainless blockbusters. At the same time, I could sit here and say "Who thinks The Mummy as an assembly line blockbuster is a good idea?" but we both know that that assembly line blockbuster made nine figures just at the gate alone, forget Ultimate Edition DVDs and TV airing rights. In fact, according to imdb, all three of them made nine figures. The real question is, why were there seven years between two and three. They should've had two more in between them, seeing as how they're such cash cows. Also, it looks like Hollywood does give us the film we want, just not the film I want.

Between the Johnny Depp film about Ed Wood, and the MST3K jobs on some of his films, Bela Lugosi has gained more notoriety in recent pop culture than his old rival Boris Karloff, but a case could be made that Karloff has the overall better oeuvre. We could also say that case was made because Karloff didn't have a serious drug addiction. Though his Frankenstein monster was a better role, he was great here as the Mummy too. And like Lugosi, he's an actor of his time, and there probably isn't a place for him in today's Hollywood. Can I still be mad at that, even if the new Mummy movies all made so much money? Money isn't everything, right?

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As we've done with Frankenstein and Dracula, I think it's important to examine the mummy as a monster as he would be in the next Twilight film. This is a no brainer: Egyptian artifact exhibit comes to their hometown, organized by the mummy, because the main girl is his wife reincarnated. The only drawback to this: no Abe Vigoda as the mummy, because no teen chick would go for it. Maybe for like five minutes, then he casts a spell making himself look like a teen hearthrob. The question is, do we put the mummy in part three, when maybe there's too much going on with werewolves, vampires, Dracula, and a Frankenstein robot, or hold him off for part four? No matter what, his goal, like everyone else, has to be to take the girl to the prom.

It's definitely time this film gets the recognition it deserves as a horror classic. At the very least, it should get the credit for the brainless blockbusters it spawned. Maybe Boris Karloff isn't as great here as he is in Frankenstein, but he's still great, and worth seeing.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023245/

2 comments:

  1. The other day I was at the mall and they were playing the second Mummy film, and it was on one of those HD tvs, and man, the visual effects really looked sucky! I was like, wow are those bad effects!

    But speakin of this old Universal classic, its the one that has slipped by me! Ive never seen it!

    Still, I realize its an important film because it gets mentioned a lot as being very influential, I mean, Stephen King always mentions it as one of those movies that scared the crap out of him as a kid.

    Gotta get down to watching this one!

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  2. Bad effects earning over 200 million. Insane. I can see Stephen King being scared by this, it fits some of his better known works. In a way, with the stalking and manipulation aspects, it could also be looked at as the prototype for the Lifetime movie. Just saying.

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