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THE MUMMY - 3 Slimes
Not Rated
Copyright 1932 Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Helen - Girl who might be a bit cuckoo since she has a doctor of the occult as a physician.
  • Frank - Dashing young lad working to further the sum of human knowledge and bring prestige to the Empire of Britain, I can almost hear "God Save the Queen" playing.
  • Dr. Muller - Strange man that has spent his years gathering information about all sorts of dark and evil rites.
  • Sir Joseph - Frank's father, doubtful of speculation and all this mummy nonsense. Until the undead priest uses magic to crush the very breath from his chest, that is.
  • The Nubian - Servant to the good and kind Englishmen, but an unwilling thrall to the mummy.
  • Imhotep - Boris Karloff! A high priest who was resurrected from his damned existence and now walks the streets of Cairo as the enigmatic "Ardath Bey." Punished by the ethereal powers for his transgressions.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Evil is such a relative term, often depending on how it affects us. Many of the classic horror novels (and so the Universal films) explored the results of one or another indiscretion.

Poor Imhotep was horribly punished for attempting to revive his lost love, an Egyptian princess who died young. He was caught trying to use the sacred Scroll of Thoth to resurrect her body and submits to his punishment with a marked hopelessness. We are not talking about any ordinary implementation of Capital Punishment either. They wrap him alive in bandages, then desecrate his sarcophagus so the soul can never find the afterlife. Either way, he suffocated - a terrible fate. All this to someone who didn't commit murder nor rape, just offended the sensibilities of zealots enforcing the (interpreted) will of their gods. The crime is as gray as the film which portrays it.

The story has a fantastic beginning, with Sir Joseph and his assistant examining the latest finds of their museum's expedition. Imhotep's mummy and a gilded box are the real prizes, the characters believe the latter might even contain the fabled Scroll of Thoth. While Sir Joseph is away the assistant unwittingly awakens the mummy by performing part of the scroll's incantation and is driven completely mad by what he sees.

Cut to present day Egypt (where present day = 1932) and Frank's despair that his expedition has found little to further the museum's fame. Out of the blue a slightly sinister man provides the researchers with clues to finding a tomb which has not yet been plundered. That man is Ardath Bey and the tomb is of his long dead princess.

The cursed priest discovers his love's spirit no longer dwells in her desiccated mummy and instead has traveled down through the ages to become Helen. Can Frank's attentions and Dr. Muller's knowledge of the occult keep her from joining Imhotep, or will she die beneath his sacrificial knife to rise as his again?

They made great use of just how spooky Karloff could look, including several eerie shots of his eyes, glaring directly at the camera. Overall the only problem is that the plot seems to wander around during the middle, plus I would've loved to have seen more of Karloff as the actual mummy.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Playing with the vestal virgins is a no-no.
  • Mummies come with their own fingerprinting kits.
  • English debutantes are all descendants of Egyptian royalty.
  • Heart attacks are caused by the last priest you annoyed.
  • Dogs hate embalmed people.
  • Dried carcasses make great bonfires.
  • Mummies probably spend a fortune on skin moisturizing creams.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 6 mins - I don't think curses have a "best if used by" date.
  • 8 mins - This is the sort of man that you do not leave a freshly baked pie around.
  • 21 mins - Since when did the British work for science and not loot?
  • 43 mins - Frank is taking his father's death very well.
  • 52 mins - No way, I'd be kicking and screaming!


  • Helen: "Do you have to open graves to find girls to fall in love with?"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note themummy1.wav Dr. Muller: "Look, the sacred spells which protect the soul in its journey to the underworld have been chipped off the coffin. So Imhotep was sentenced to death not only in this world, but in the next."
Green Music Note themummy2.wav Ardath: "You have studied our ancient arts and know that you can not harm me. You also know that you must return that scroll to me, or die."
Green Music Note themummy3.wav Dr. Muller: "If I could get my hands on you, I'd break your dried flesh to pieces!"
Green Music Note themummy4.wav Helen: "Save me from that mummy, it's dead! Save me!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 



 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipthemummy1.mpg - 2.8m
Sir Joseph, Dr. Muller, and the soon-to-be-very-insane assistant are all discussing the horrible death Imhotep was put to during this scene.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2]
Re: The Mummy - One of the GOOD "bad movies"
Reply #9. Posted on August 03, 2008, 09:58:20 AM by Yronimos
I don't mind seeing this movie on a bad movie site - it's not perfect (a bit slower-paced and more cerebral than more well-known - and arguably more effective - horror movies of that era), and I suspect it must have been shot on a relatively low budget.  But the things that were done with what these movie makers had to work with! 

Compare the review of this film with some of the truly abysmal bad horror films reviewed on this site - the review's author, I think, plays fair with this movie and gives it at least some of the respect it deserves.

Poor Boris Karloff is one of the best-known horror icons of all time, and for a good reason - this movie would simply not have been the same without him.  Karloff had a strange magnetism that most actors could only dream of, raising the quality of almost any movie or TV show he appeared in merely by being there and being Karloff - I don't know how he did it, but he made it look easy.  At the same time, I have no doubt that Karloff worked hard in everything he did, and that professionalism seems to have rubbed off on the cast and crew around him.  Horror fans are sympathetic to The Mummy, and I think that is in no small part because Boris Karloff's portrayal of the movie's "monster" so effectively commands our sympathies for the character, the way poor hear-broken Im-Ho-Tep was wronged by the gods who cursed him, and, by extension, the movie around this character.  Karloff seems to help lead the cast and crew around him into giving the whole production a level of dignity, class, respect, and professionalism that the movie would perhaps otherwise not really deserve.  For example, imagine this movie (or, for that matter, Frankenstein!) starring poor Bela Lagosi instead, and I suspect that nobody would have had a problem with a review on a bad movie site.

That's not to say that Boris Karloff was the only thing that went right in this movie, though.  The scene where the mummy comes back to life and "takes a little walk", while that poor archaeologist goes mad - that's pure gold!  Apart from Karloff himself, that one little scene is possibly one of the most powerful and best-remembered scenes from this movie.  And, I think, it's one of the scariest and most effective scenes from any mummy movie before or since.

And the movie's whole atmosphere somehow works fantastically well, though it's incredibly subtle for a movie for that era.  I don't know how, but the whole movie looks and feels other-worldly... somehow, the film evokes a weird sense that time and space have broken down, without relying on a single special effect I can point at to do so.  (Strangely, I would go as far as to say that the weird atmosphere is perhaps more Lovecraftian than any true Lovecraftian movie ever made!)  Some, but not all, of this weirness was surely accomplished through Boris Karloff's presence alone, but I can't give all the credit to Karloff alone.  Now, I want to watch this film again to see if I can put my finger on why else it works as well as it did... was it the lighting and use of shadows?  The incidental music and the way that music was used?  Other visual elements, like make-up and set design?  I can compare the way atmosphere in this film was achieved with the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, The Haunting of Hill House, or Alien or The Exorcist, but I understand how the creepy atmosphere was achieved in those other films - bizarre and distorted sets the example of Caligari and Alien, freakish camera angles in the example of The Haunting of Hill House, and cold temperatures to make the actors as physically uncomfortable as possible in the others - but atmosphere in The Mummy is a trick I don't understand yet.

But, ask a horror fan to list his/her favorite horror movies, and this movie isn't likely to be on that list, even when that list is limited only to favorite horror movies from the 1930's.  Sadly, I think that some horror fans would go so far as to say that this film is slow-paced and atmospheric to the point of being almost boring or forgettable, in spite of its good points.  It's unfortunate, but this film doesn't quite hit enough of the right nerves for many horror fans to consider this to be a great horror film - nor does it hit enough of the right nerves for even me to consider it beyond the reach of a bad movie site.

Again, though, I must point out that I think the review's author clearly respects the movie for what it is and does, and, I think, the author is at least as fond of The Mummy as we are.  This "bad movie" is one of the Good Guys, and I'm glad to see it reviewed here - this "bad movie" does enough right, that it can still quietly reach out through the decades to grab us and hold us in its cold, unearthly clutches in a way that truly awful or mediocre movies never will.

Look upon this "bad movie", horror movie makers, and tremble!  Horror movie makers seem to forget that even a low-budget horror film without a real monster can still capture its audience's attention, imagination, and respect, and all without relying on any of the obvious gimmicks of the horror-movie-maker's trade.  This film is an example of what the low-end of horror film making should be, but never is.  Horror fans will stand up for The Mummy in ways that they never would for a bigger-budgeted or more visceral horror film.
Re: The Mummy
Reply #10. Posted on September 23, 2008, 03:44:32 PM by CPETER13
I think it is obvious that, despite this site's name, the reviews cover the good, the bad, and the fugly.  This is a good movie, there is no doubt about it.  But is it great?  Not really.  

Firt of all, it is a fairly thinly-disguised remake of "Dracula"--a man returns from the dead and desires a mate, killing those who stand between them.   A foreign doctor is the ony thing standing between the victim and the stalker.  And of course, you have David Manners and Edward Van Sloan in the smae roles theyn played in the Lugosi movie.  Special note must be made of Manners, who single-handedly makes any scene he is in less interesting and less dynamic--the human equivalent of library paste.

It is atmospheric and beautifully shot, but why do the scenes of ancient egypt seem so much more vital than the ones filmed in the movie's present?  

SPOILER ALERT:  The deus ex machina ending is interesting but a total cheat.  If she can save herself with the help of the gods, who needed the heroes to begin with?

I agree that this was not the movie for lugosi, as the other poster suggested.  But not because of any lack of talent, but simply because he was too robust looking and there is no way you can deal with a hungarian accent in place of an egyptian one.  Which is naother problem--should a 3000yo mummy have an english accent?
Re: The Mummy
Reply #11. Posted on October 23, 2008, 06:53:09 AM by Thee Dr.
Hmmm...out of all the films I've seen on this site...I think this is the only one I've seen so far that I disagree with it's inclusion-but nontheless, an excellent review as always.
Re: The Mummy
Reply #12. Posted on October 18, 2013, 05:49:52 PM by zelmo73
While this is definitely not a bad movie by any means, it has certainly influenced countless bad movies since its release. All of the bad movies that we have ever watched have all had their roots in the great movies of Hollywood and Europe. I applaud Andrew for including the classics on this website, if only to showcase where a lot of the crap movies got their inspiration.
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