“I loved you once, but now you belong with the dead.”
My choices for the best Mummy films
- The Mummy (1999)
- The Mummy Returns (2001)
- She (1965)
- Curse of the Mummy’s tomb (1964)
- The Mummy (1959)
- The Mummy (1932)
Mummies have been in film since 1909. The Mummy was one of the classic (talkie) Universal monsters, along with Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man. But unlike several of his brothers, he has not done well. There are over a hundred movies specifically about Dracula and well over a thousand featuring vampires. Likewise Frankenstein has appeared many times. But there are roughly ’75 films featuring mummies of any name and most are lackluster affairs.
While there’s been a trickle of mummy movies over the years, there’s been four substantive groupings. The first is the Universal films of ’30s and ’40s. The Mummy came out in 1932. It stared Boris Karloff as the mostly unwrapped Imhotep, who longed to resurrect his long dead love. The following four were unrelated with a mummy named Kharis (played by Tom Tyler–replaced by Lon Chaney Jr for the later films). This is where the iconic, shambling, wrapped mummy comes from.
The next batch are Mexican movies from the ’50s and early ’60s and involved Aztec mummies and/or wrestlers. These films were intended for a Spanish speaking audience and were not initially either dubbed or subtitled, and when they were, they were not treated well.
Meanwhile Hammer Horror created a string of stand alone mummy films. The first of these, titled The Mummy, was made in a deal with Universal and was a remake not of ’32s The Mummy, but rather of the next two Universal Mummy films from the ’40s. Christopher Lee played The Mummy.
Finally in 1999 Universal started a string of action/adventure mummy movies that were not remakes or directly related to any of the earlier films, though they reused the basic “resurrect lost love” storyline.
What counts as a “mummy” films is a bit vague at the edges. The obvious thought would be that it would involve a mummified human, but surprisingly, that’s not always the case. While in both the ’32 and ’99 Mummy, the monster was unwrapped rapidly, in Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb, the “monster” is never wrapped or dehydrated in any way, Yet everyone counts it as one of the major mummy films. It seems just being an ancient Egyptian animated by magical means is sufficient. As such, I include She as it is note for note the basic mummy story, except for the bandages.
For my “best of” list, I have cut it from my normal ten to six as I can only find six mummy films that are good.
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