By “mummy movies” I include not only those films that have a living (or, rather, undead) mummy stalking about but that entire genre that uses a mythologized ancient Egypt as the foundation for stories of mystery, horror and romance. As a genre, these films are ordered by a series of common themes, expressed here as oppositions:
Life / Death. The categories of life and death are confounded in mummy movies. The living mummy, the immortal king, the reincarnated princess, the possessing spirit all complicate and reconstitute the boundaries of life and death.
Past / Present. Mummy movies create imagined worlds in which the past and the present exist in a tension. Lives (in the sense of reincarnations) and loves transcend time. In some films, the past is more real than the present – as in The Mummy’s Ghost where Amina becomes her “true” self, the princess Ananka, as she is carried into the swamp.
Ancient / Modern. The ancient world of Egypt protrudes into the modern world through its architecture. It is not a coincidence that many of these films are set during the British colonial period. Pharaonic architecture gives the lie to the colonial assumption of the white man’s burden and demands to be answered. The mythology of the mummy films, as well as the racial stereotypes they employ, offer one set of answers to this dilemma.
Magic / Science. Ancient Egypt is posited in these films a repository for “wisdom” – a gloss for magic. Modernity – particularly as represented by explorers, doctors, university professors, museum curators, librarians and so forth – is a repository for science. A central trend in these films is the scientific quest to colonize ancient wisdom by recuperating it and representing it and making it part of knowledge. In the process, however, the ancient wisdom proves not only resistant but dangerously alien and powerful. The battle to destroy the mummy is often a battle to exert science over magic. Interestingly, alternative “wisdoms” like Islam or Christianity have no utility or power in these films. Science is pragmatically real in these films, as is ancient wisdom. But the monotheistic religions are ineffective.
Us / Them. These films are inevitably about transnational transgressions. Europeans and Americans enter into Egypt searching for treasures that bring them doom or avenging Egyptians (often members of Pharaonic cults that have survived the centuries) travel to England and America in an Orientalist revenge narrative that goes back at least to Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. Ethnic stereotypes and other alterities abound in these films. One of the most interesting is the connection of past and present through the blood of Ancient peoples. Egyptians become repositories for their own distant past. Amina in the Mummy’s Ghost is a cosmopolitan, Western-educated woman yet her blood betrays her; instead of marrying the hero she becomes her ancient self, Ananka. The same is true not only of Helen/Ankhsenamun in The Mummy (1932) but of the Nubian servant in the same film; he is especially susceptible to Imhotep’s power because of “the ancient blood.”
Male / Female. These are gendered films and complexly so. In general, they involve a single woman who is surrounded by a number of men who have various complex and overlapping relations toward her – fatherly, protector, seducer, manipulator, and so forth. One of the central motifs of all mummy films is the love/passion that lasts through the ages, that transcends time, space and even body. This motif is probably borrowed from H. Rider Haggard’s She (Ayesha herself was once a priestess of Isis) but the mummy movies have appropriated it and transformed it in many various ways. There is also common in these films that hypergamy that is expressed by nearly all Orientalist novels: the possibility for women but not men to marry up, across racial boundaries.
I recommend to my students that a solid starting place for analyzing narrative texts is to interrogate our own pleasure. Whence derives my pleasure in these films? My own interest in mummy movies began when I saw the 1932 film The Mummy. I was eleven and the film gave me enormous pleasure. The notion of an immortal wizard, ancient Gods whose powers are undimmed and past lives shadowing our own came together in what was, for me, a particularly compelling story. Other mummy movies, with their shambling killers, mere hit men for the high priests, were flat by comparison – although the climax of The Mummy’s Ghost, when Amina became the beloved Ananka and sank with Kharis into the swamp – has always stayed in my memory.
I was not only a consumer of The Mummy, I was a producer of fan culture of a sort. Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies gave me the text of the Scroll of Thoth which I promptly rendered in hieroglyphics, using the chart in the back of a Time-Life Ancient Egypt book for a guide and a set of 24-color marking pens as my tools. I created a case for the scroll, using a paper towel tube. The following year, when I began performing magic at birthday parties the Scroll of Thoth sat on my table as a prop. Never was it a part of the act; rather, it joined other “Oriental” and “medieval” props as devices to set an overall mood.
I was at best only vaguely aware of the racist and colonialist stereotypes that structured the films. Yet I was not a “dominated” reader in the Marxian sense. My heroes were Imhotep and the fiery high priest Mehemet Bey. Their lives – isolated from normal social relations by their need for secrecy, driven by deep passions unsuspected by others – resonated with my own preadolescent and adolescent angst far more than any of the generic heroes.
I have, alas, ceased to be Imhotep and become more like his foes, if not Sir Joseph Whemple than at least Dr. Muller. He was an expert of sorts on the mythologies of the Orient; I am an expert of sorts on Oriental(ist) mythologies. Like all PhDs I become an expert by collecting, organizing and displaying my knowledge. This page is neither a fan page nor an analytical examination of mummy movies. It is an ongoing attempt to collect, organize and display this sprawling, intertextual mass of films into some semblance of order.
CLEOPATRE (1899/Star Films) – French silent short directed by George Melies. A man (Melies) with diabolical intent hacks a Queen’s mummy to bits, then resurrects the woman from a smoking brazier. Primarily important to film historians because American film producer, Charles Urban saw the potential in the film during a visit to London and took it to America under a new title (“Robbing Cleopatra’s Tomb”). Urban then went on to distribute other Melies films in America.
LE MONSTRE (1903/Star Film) – French silent film by George Melies. In ancient Egypt, a prince requests a dervish to revive his dead wife who is now a skeleton, but he is horrified when the neck of the woman covered by a sheet grows to strange proportions and dances about. After a time the woman seems to return to normal, but when the prince embraces her and lifts the sheet he finds only her skeleton.
THE PRINCESS IN THE VASE (1908/Biograph) – US silent film directed by D.W. Griffith. Cinematography by William “Billy” Bitzer and Arthur Marvin. In ancient Egypt, a vision incriminates a princess’ adulterous affair. In contemporary Egypt, an Egyptologist (D.W. Griffith) dreams that the cremated Egyptian princess is reincarnated from her own ashes in a shattered vase.
LA MOMIE DU ROI (1909)
Lux Studios. Directed by Gerard Bourgeois. The mummy of the King of Ramses is brought to life by a professor in this French comedy. Also released as The Mummy of King Ramses.
THE EGYPTIAN MYSTERY (1909/Edison)
US silent film. A pendant found in an Egyptian tomb causes any object touched by those who wear it, to disappear
THE ROMANCE OF THE MUMMY (1910/Pathe)
French silent short based on a story by Theophile Gautier. While in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Queen, Egyptologist Lord Evandale falls a sleep and dreams that he is romantically involved with the Queen during her reign. When he awakes he meets a girl whose features are similar to those of the beautiful ancient ruler.
WANTED-A MUMMY (1910/Cricks & Martin)
UK silent short. A man pretends to be a living mummy
The Mummy (1911)
Directed by A.E. Coleby. No copies remain of this film but contemporary fan magazines tell us the plot. Contact with a live electrical wire brings to life an ancient Egyptian princess, who uses an “Oriental dance” to seduce (and ultimately marry) her owner, a New York science professor and amateur Egyptologist. (Thanhouser)
The Mummy (1911)
Pathe Studios. In this French comedy, a professor’s assistant pretends to be a reincarnated mummy as part of a plan to marry the professor’s daughter.
The Mummy (1911)
Urban Studios. A professor dreams that an ancient mummy comes to life.
The Mummy (1911)
Thanhauser studios. Contact with a live electrical wire brings to life an ancient Egyptian princess, who uses an “Oriental dance” to seduce (and ultimately marry) her owner, a New York science professor and amateur Egyptologist.
The Mummy (1912)
Britannia Films. Directed by A.E. Coleby. A man poses as a revived mummy to fool his sweetheart’s father.
The Vengeance of Egypt (1912)
Napoleon himself is the archaeologist who digs up a mummy case. One of his lieutenants steals a ring from it to send to his girlfriend. After receiving the ring, she dream of the mummy opening its eyes even as a murderous burglar sneaks into her room and kills her. Then the burglar suffers a terrible fate, and the ring passes hands, each time followed by disaster. Eventually it comes to an Egyptologist, who returns it to the mummy. The final scene shows the mummy’s eyes glowing triumphantly.
The Mummy and the Cowpuncher (1912)
Starring Ruth Roland.
WHEN SOUL MEETS SOUL (1912/Essanay)
US silent short directed by J. Farrell MacDonald. The mummy of an Egyptian princess (Dolores Cassinelli) is acquired by her reincarnated lover (Francis X. Bushman). Also starring Fred Wolf.
The Egyptian Mummy (1913)
Kalem Films. Constance Talmadge starred in this silent film about a man who impersonates a mummy.
An Egyptian Princess (1914)
THE CURSE OF THE SCARABEE RUBY (1914/Gaumont/Eclipse/Urban)
French silent 4 reel film. An evil spirit transforms into a young girl.
THE EGYPTIAN MUMMY (1914/Vitagraph)
US silent film directed by Lee Beggs. Written by A.A. Methley. A living mummy acts as a matchmaker for a couple in love. Starring Billy Quirk, Constance Talmadge, Joel Day.
The Mummy (1914)
NAIDRA, THE DREAM WORKER (1914/Edison)
US silent film. A thief steals a mummy’s necklace only to find that he can’t get rid of it.
Oh! You Mummy (1914)
Silent starring Pearl White.
THROUGH THE CENTURIES (1914/Selig Polyscope Co.)
US silent film produced and directed by Fred W. Huntley. Written by L.J. Withers. Two archaeologists (Harold Lockwood, Henry W. Otto) discover an ancient Egyptian princess (Mabel Van Bueren) who has been in suspended animation for 2000 years in a catacomb. The Princess is revived and the archaeologists learn that they are the reincarnations of two men who were rivals for love.
The Dust of Egypt (1915)
US silent feature film directed by George D. Baker. Adapted by Alan Campbell from his play of the same name. An Egyptian princess drinks a mysterious elixir that puts her into a deathlike sleep. She reawakens three thousand years later in a mummy case in a New York museum and sets off on a tour. The film was a comedy built around the princess’s encounters with the wonders of the twentieth century – matches, cigarettes, telephones and so forth. Cast: Antonio Moreno, Edith Story, Hughie Mack, Charles Brown, Jay Dwiggins, William Shea, Edward Elkas, J. Herbert Frank, Nicholas Dunaew, George Stevens, Jack Brawn, Mr. Sneeze, Mr. Pluto, Cissy Fitzgerald, Naomi Childers, Ethel Corcoran. Again, no copies remain. Vitagraph publicity materials still survive in library collections and they tell us the story.
HIS EGYPTIAN AFFINITY (1915/Nestor)
US silent written, produced and directed by A. E. Christie. A revived 3000 year old Princess (Victoria Ford) meets her reincarnated lover (Eddie Lyons), but they are pursued by the reincarnated son of a sheik who also desires her.
THE LIVE MUMMY (1915/Pathe)
UK silent short. A man poses as an Egyptian mummy in order to fool a scientist.
THE MISSING MUMMY (1915/Kalem)
US silent film starring Bud Duncan, Charles Inslee, Ethel Teare. A man disguises himself as a mummy.
When the Mummy Cried for Help (1915/Nestor/Universal)
US silent short comedy directed by Al Christie. A man disguises himself as a mummy. Starring Lee Moran, Eddie Lyons and Victoria Forde.
THE WRAITH OF THE TOMB (1915/Cricks & Martin)
UK silent film directed by Charles Calvert. Produced by George H. Cricks. Written by William J. Elliot. The ghost of an Egyptian princess searches London for her murderous, severed mummified hand. Starring Dorothy Bellew, Sydney Vautier, Douglas Payne.
Probably the first, full length horror feature produced in Britain. Released in the US as The Avenging Hand.
THE MODERN SPHINX (1916/American)
US silent 3-reel film directed by Charles Bennett. An ancient Egyptian girl (Winifred Greenwood) is placed in suspended animation for 3,000 years by her astrologer father (Charles Newton). She awakes in the present, only to have a tragic love affair and commit suicide. But wait – instead of death she finds herself alive and unharmed back in ancient Egypt. Also starring Edward Coxen, Robert Klein, George Field, and Nan Christy.
THE PERILS OF PORK PIE (1916/Homeland)
UK silent film directed by W.P. Kellino. Written by Reuben Gillmer. Comedy in which a man suffering indigestion has a strange dream: he buys a museum in which an Egyptian mummy comes to life and crowns him pharoah of Egypt. Starring Billy Merson, Charles Cohen.
THE FATAL RING (1917/Pathe)
US silent serial. A ring found in Egypt renders the wearer invisible. Pearl Standish, (Pearl White), who owns an Ancient Egyptian ring that can render the wearer invisible. She undergoes a series of cliffhanging adventures as she is pursued by crooks led by Carslake, (Warner Oland), who want the jewel, and by a High Priestess (Earle Foxe) and her agents who want to take it back to Egypt.
THE UNDYING FLAME (1917/Jesse L. Lasky/Paramount)
US 5 reel silent film directed by Maurice Tourneur. Written by Charles E. Whitaker.
An ancient Egyptian is reincarnated as a contemporary English girl. Starring Olga Petrova, Mahlon Hamilton, Edward Mordant, Herbert Evans, Warren Cook, Charles W. Martin, Violet Reed.
The Eyes of the Mummy/Die Augen Der Mumie Ma (1918)
Silent German film directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Although touted in some film histories as the first mummy movie, there is in fact no mummy in this dark and tragic Oriental romance. A German art student Alfred Wendlund (Liedtke) has come to Egypt to study Pharaonic art. He discovers the lost tomb of the ancient Egyptian queen Ma. In the tomb, he meets what he first takes to be Ma herself. In fact, Ma is a beautiful dancing girl (Pola Negri), the slave of the villainous Arab Radu (Emil Jannings), who uses the legend of Ma as a way to dupe and bilk tourists. A romance quickly blossoms between Ma and the student. The Arab catches them. The student beats him up and leaves him for dead in the desert. He returns to Germany, taking Ma with him. But the Arab does not die. He is saved by German Prince Hohenfels whom he vows to serve. He accompanies his new master to Germany. Meanwhile, Alfred has taught Ma to read and write and introduced her to his university community. Ma stuns her audience at a party with her exotic Oriental dance and is quickly signed to a theater contract. She is successful until she is seen by her former master, who kills her to avenge himself for her betrayal and his beating and attempted murder by the student. My understanding of the title is that he met her in a tomb and she is Egyptian, so she is, metaphorically, a mummy. The metaphorical entailments of this might be worth working out but I would want to see the film again before undertaking such an interpretive task.
Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled (1918)
Short American film directed by R.W. Philips. Starring Mattie Edwards.
THE SILENT MYSTERY (1918/Burston/Silent Mystery Corp.)
US silent serial (15 chapters). Directed by Francis Ford. Produced by Louis Burston. Written by Elsie Van Neame. An invisible force pursues those responsible for stealing a jewel stolen an Egyptian mummy. Starring Francis Ford, Rosemary Theby, Mae Gaston, Elsie Van Neame.
THE BEETLE (1919/Barker)
UK silent directed by Alexander Butler. Adapted by Helen Blizzard from the novel by Richard Marsh. The soul of an Egyptian princess possesses a beetle and seeks revenge on a member of Parliament. Starring Leal Douglas, Fred Morgan, Maudie Dunham, Hebden Foster, Nancy Benyon, Frank Reade, Rolf Leslie.
Read the story on which the movie is based http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/beetleX1.htm
The Lure of Egypt (1921)
Directed by Howard C. Hickman. Written by Elliott J. Clawson and Richard Schayer. A noted archaeologist (William Lion West) runs out of funds from the British government and is unable to continue his research. An unscrupulous Oriental prince (Robert McKim) becomes lecherously fond of the archaeologist’s daughter (Claire Adams) and offers to finance the stalled project. The incarnation of an Egyptian king (Joseph J. Dowling) appears to battle the forces of mysticism conjured by the villain as the father battles to save his daughter for the forces of evil.
The Mummy (1923)
An early Fox film, now lost.
Mummy Love (1926)
Chandu the Magician (1932)
American movie serial directed by William Cameron Menzies and Marcel Varnel. Written by Philip Klein & Barry Conners; based on the popular radio series by Harry Earnshaw,Vera Oldham, and R.R. Morgan. Evil Egyptian villain Roxor (Bela Lugosi) has kidnaped Robert Regent (Henry B. Walthall), along with his death ray invention, in hopes of using it to degenerate humanity into mindless brutes, leaving himself as Earth’s supreme intelligence. Faced with revealing the machine’s secrets or allowing his family to die a horrible death at the hands of Roxor, Regent’s only hope lies with the intervention of his brother-in-law, Frank Chandler “known in the Orient as Chandu the Magician” (Edmund Lowe) and his sweetheart, the Egyptian princess Nadji (Irene Ware).
This film series was based on a very successful radio series that ran from 1932-1950. Frank Chandler in the series was a secret agent for the American government. He spent most of his time operating out of Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, but adventured all over Asia and the Middle East, mostly saving his sweetheart Princess Nadji, or his naïve sister Dorothy and her son Bob and daughter Betty. For a sample episode, see http://www.old-time.com/sponsors/radiomemories/regular/chandu_the_magician.html
The Mummy (1932)
“This is the scroll of Thoth. Herein are set down the words by which Isis raised Osiris from the dead. Oh! Amon-Ra. Oh! God of Gods. Death is but a doorway to new life…We live today…We shall live again…In many forms shall we return, Oh Mighty One!”
Archaeologists led by Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) discover a tomb in the Valley of Kings. Inside they find a strange mummy – entombed alive, presumably for sacrilege. Entombed with him they find a mysterious golden box sealed with a terrible curse. Whemple’s friend, physician and student of the occult Dr. Muller (Edward van Sloane) warns Whemple that he must be careful. Little do they realize, as they argue, that it is already too late. Inside the tomb, archaeologist Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher) is reading the strange document entombed with this mummy. It is the Scroll of Thoth, the incantation with which Isis raised Osiris from the dead. Behind him, the mummy quickens. It steps out of its sarcophagus and walks out of the tomb, taking the Scroll of Thoth with it. The sight drives poor Norton mad (“He went for a little walk,” he cackles insanely).
Ten years later, another expedition, this time led by Professor Pearson (Leonard Mundie) and Sir Joseph’s son Frank (David Manners), is preparing to close down after a whole season of unsuccessful excavation. They are sought out by a strange man named Ardeth Bey (Boris Karloff), who leads them to the site of Ankhsenamun’s tomb. Ardeth is the mummy. He seeks to bring his beloved princess back to life, an undead creature like himself. Sir Joseph is called back to Egypt to help catalogue and organize the tomb’s content, which are removed to the Cairo Museum.
On the first night of the exhibit’s opening, it is visited by Ardeth Bey. Late at night he kneels before the sarcophagus and reads from the Scroll, trying to revive Ankhsenamun. But the soul of the dead princess now resides in reincarnated form in the beautiful Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), the daughter of the governor of the Sudan who is Egyptian on her mother’s side. She is spending the summer with the Mullers. She is at a ball (given its view of the pyramids, perhaps at the Mina House – then still a palace) when she hears Imhotep’s call. She goes to the museum in a trance but when she reaches the museum, she is prevented from entering by Frank and the spell is broken. Helen faints and Frank and Sir Josph take her to their home, where she is quickly joined by Dr. Muller. Meanwhile, Ardeth Bey is discovered by a museum guard. He kills him but inadvertently leaves the scroll behind in the dead guard’s grip. During the subsequent investigation into the guard s murder, the scroll is handed for safe-keeping to Sir Joseph.
Ardeth Bey arrives at Sir Joseph’s house and demands the scroll back. At Muller’s advice, Sir Joseph refuses. Imhotep uses his occult powers to kill Sir Joseph and takes control of the mind of his Nubian servant (Noble Johnson), who steals the scroll and delivers it to Imhotep. A few days later, Imhotep uses his power to call Helen to his house in Cairo. There he reveals to Helen the secret that binds them: He shows her in the waters of his mystical pool how, as high priest and temple virgin they were guilty of a forbidden love. Worse, when she died of illness, he committed the sacrilege of trying to bring her back to life using the forbidden Scroll of Thoth. For this he was entombed alive. “No man has ever suffered for any woman as I have for you,” he says.
A battle for the girl’s soul begins between Ardeth Bey/Imhotep on the one hand and Muller and Frank (who is falling in love with her) on the other. In the end, though, they are no match for Imhotep. He brings Helen to him and succeeds in making Ankhsenamun’s spirit fully aware of herself. But the princess, while she may have loved Imhotep as a man, is disgusted by him as an undead mummy. She is even more dismayed when she discovers that his plan to make her immortal depends on killing her, embalming her and raising as an undead creature like himself. Ankhsenamun calls upon the goddess Isis, whose statue comes to life and destroys Imhotep, causing him to crumble to dust. Ankhsenamun faints and awakens as Helen.
See our full page devoted to this film
The Ghoul (1933)
British horror film directed by T. Hayes Hunter. Written by Frank King, Leonard Hines, L. DuGarde Peach, Roland Pertwee, John Hastings Turner and Rupert Downing. Mahmoud (D.A. Clarke-Smith) and his master, Sheik Aga Ben Dragore (Harold Huth) have come to England seeking “the Eternal Light,” a jewel “stolen from our people.” They discover that it is in the hands of wealthy Professor Morant (Boris Karloff),who is on his deathbed. Morant (Boris Karloff) is an Egyptologist who has “gone native” – he worships the Ancient Egyptian gods and seeks immortality. On his deathbed, he insists to his servant Laing (Ernst Thesiger) that he be buried with the jewel, as he believes it will ensure his everlasting life. Morant’s beliefs terrify Laing, who hopes to get his hands on the jewel himself. In due time, Morant dies and is buried — but without the jewel, which has disappeared.
A bunch of disgruntled heirs and would-be gem thieves gather at the house during the next full moon for the reading of the will. These include solicitor Broughton (Cedric Hardwicke), Mahmoud and the Sheik, Morant’s bickering niece Betty Harlow (Dorothy Hyson) and nephew Ralph Morant (Anthony Bushell), Vicar Nigel Hartley (Ralph Richardson) and housekeeper Kaney (Kathleen Harrison). Morant does at last rise from the grave, but as a horrible ghoul who seeks vengeance on the theft of the jewel. In the most horrific scene in the film, the Ghoul that was Morant seeks to kill himself before a statue of Anubis, but succeeds only in cutting chunks of his flesh.
Although there is no mummy in this film, the theme of an Ancient Egyptian wisdom that can conquer death for purposes of vengeance is the mainspring of the plot, so it fits my definition of the genre. This is an interesting film historically. Karloff left England an unknown, aspiring actor and returned a star. This was his first English movie and is, some critics have said, Britain’s first true horror feature. As such, it is a peculiar hybrid. At the core, it’s a typical British light-hearted suspense flick with a lot of eccentric characters. This is sandwiched between two bloodcurdling performances by Karloff as the mad Egyptologist so crazed with the idea of immortality that he rises from his own grave. A remake of the story, with the horror elements removed, was made as “There’s No Place Like Homicide.” Prints of “The Ghoul” were destroyed by the studio at that time so as not to cause confusion. The film was thus long believed to be lost, but a complete print turned up in the national archives in Prague. Many critics complain that the print is inferior and doesn’t do justice to the original cinematography.
See The Ghoul enshrined in a plastic model kit http://www.januscompany.com/the_ghoul.htm
The Magic Mummy (1933)
A Van Beuren cartoon. 6:48 mins. Two slapstick cops are sent to investigate thefts of mummies from a museum. Arriving, they follow a mysterious figure carrying a sarcophagus to his hideout under a graveyard. The figure, dressed in a slouch hat, dark glasses and coat ala John Barrymore’s Svengali, unwraps the mummy to reveal a slender Egyptian princess. Laughing “at last!” he commands her to “Sing!” As she takes her first heaving breaths in thousands of years, the two cops seek to arrest the thief. He uses magic powers to disarm them and drive them into a prison. Then he takes the princess to a theater in which the audience and musicians are animated skeletons. As the princess sings a little jazz number, the cops escape and chase the Svengali. They get separated in the dark. At last, one of the cops finds the sarcophagus and takes it to the station. When opened, it contains not the stolen mummy but the other cop.
View this film online at http://www.movieflix.com/
The Return of Chandu (1934)
American movie serial directed by Ray Taylor. Written by Barry Barringer; based on the popular radio series by Harry Earnshaw, Vera Oldham, and R.R. Morgan.
Episode One: The Chosen Victim.
Two thugs wait at the airport for the arrival of Frank Chandler “known in the Orient as Chandu the Magician” (Bela Lugosi). Meanwhile, his sweetheart, the Egyptian princess Nadji (Maria Alba) is being introduced to California society by the Regent family – Chandu’s sister Dorothy (Clara Kimball Young) and her son Bob (Dean Benton) and daughter Betty (Phyllis Ludwig). She has been the victim of several failed kidnap attempts. The villainous Vindhyan (Lucien Prival) and his sidekick Sutra (Cyril Armbruster) arrives pretending to be friends of Chandu’s. They plot with the servant Nito (Frazer Acosta) to drug Nadji while Vindhyan’s thugs delay Chandu at the airport. But Chandu spots the thugs, evades them by turning invisible, then materializes in his family home “more than an hour’s drive from the airport.” He saves Nadji, and tells her what he has learned: that the Ubasti cult of the Island of Lemuria (“home of black magic”) has recently recovered the mummy of Ossana, the last high priestess of Ubasti. They believe they can revive her through the sacrifice of an Egyptian princess – Nadji. Chandu hypnotizes Nito and takes him into the study to interrogate him. First the servant, then Chandu are hit by poison darts!
Episode Two: The House on the Hill.
Surprise! Chandu wasn’t really hit, he dodged the dart. Having learned from Nito that there is a secret shrine of Ubasti in Los Angeles, Chandu decides to take Nadji and the Regent family away on the yacht of his good friend Prince Andra (Bryant Washburn). He calls the museum and tells them to come take possession of a mummy case he is donating. But he is being watched by members of the cult through the sacred fire in their shrine. Meanwhile Vindhyan has suborned another Regent servant. While Chandu is off arranging for the yacht, the gardener gives Nadji a drugged flower. When she falls asleep, the gardener places her in the mummy case. Cult members take the place of the museum guards and sneak her out of the house in the mummy case. When Chandu returns and finds Nadji gone, he and Bob set off in pursuit. So great is Chandu’s anxiety over Nadji that he drives his car off a cliff!
Episode Three: On the High Seas
Ooops. Nope. It just looked like he drove off a cliff. Actually, he stopped just in time. Calming himself Chandu uses his magic ring to call on his teacher the Yogi (voice of Murdock MacQuarrie) for help. The yogi tells him to have faith. Chandu’s faith causes the car to drive itself to where Nadji is being held. Telling Frank to wait outside in the car, Chandu becomes invisible, hypnotizes the guards and rescues her. Chandu gets everyone to the yacht and they set sail. But Chandu is unable to break the spell with which Vindhyan has bound her. Once they are on the high seas Vinhyan steals aboard and attempts to take Nadji away. They catch him at the edge of the ship, but he draws a dagger warns them if they do not stay back he will plunge it into Nadji’s heart.
Episode Four: The Evil Eye
But Vindhyan’s mental powers are no match for Chandu’s. In their mental battle, Vindhyan loses control of Nadji and leaps overboard to escape. But Prince Andra has been killed by a cultist and the yacht is held at the island of Suva for an inquiry. Pretending to be policemen, the cultists succeeds in capturing Nadji and Dorothy. Since the police are making it too dangerous to get her off the island, Vindhyan decides to sacrifice Nadji immediately. Chandu and Bob track Vindhyan down. While Bob goes for the police, Chandu sneaks into the ceremony. Vindhyan: “Oh mighty Ubasti, goddess of darkness and wrath, prepare to receive the soul of Nadji, princess of Egypt.” A fight breaks out. Chandu and Vindhyan grapple over a sword. Bob arrives with the police. The fight ends when Vindhyan accidentally falls into the sacrificial fire. Later, in a garden on Suva, Nadji rejoices in her safety now that Vindhyan is dead and his followers in the hands of the police. But on the island of Lemuria, more evil is brewing. The Supreme Voice of Ubasti (who wears a turban) sends another sorcerer-priest, Vitras (Jack Clark), to kidnap the princess.
Episode Five: The Invisible Circle
Chandu searches Nadja’s memory for clues to the whereabouts of Lemuria, then sets out on Prince Andra’s yacht in search of it, intending to destroy the mummy of Ossana. Meanwhile, Vitras comes to Suva, where “the aged woman Sisara” aids him, as do the Suvanese natives. Using his powers (“Oh mighty Voice of Ubasti. By the flames of Baal, by the black gods of Hekate, I summon thy power.”), he summons Nadji to him. Chandu senses that something is wrong and the yacht returns. But he is too late. By the time he battles his way through the natives, Vitras has used the Circle of Orloc, a spell that can only be used once in a magician’s lifetime, to teleporting Nadji and himself to Lemuria.
Episode Six: Chandu’s False Step
The Voice of Ubast explains to Nadji that she will be sacrificed in seven days, and has her confined in the tomb of Ossana. Chandu and party set off for Lemuria. His yogi warns him telepathically that his fears for Nadji are making him susceptible to the powers of Ubasti but he does not understand his yogi’s advice to “see more clearly.” The Voice of Ubasti takes possession of one of the sailors and makes him sabotage the yacht. As the drums of Lemuria are heard in the distance, Chandu, Dorothy, Betty and Bob are trapped on the sinking yacht.
Episode Seven: Mysterious Magic
Clinging to a wooden door, Chandu, Dorothy, Betty, Bob and the captain float to a beach on Lemuria. The Voice of Ubasti sets native guards around the temple. Chandu and Bob go in search of water, and discover the tracks of “half-human” native “cat worshippers, evil as the man-eating savages of darkest Africa.” Chandu sends Bob back to the others while he follows the tracks to the temple. When he returns to the beach, Chandu finds the captain lying unconscious and the others missing, seized by the natives. Chandu and the captain go in search of the others, but Chandu falls through a trap door into the underground caverns of Lemuria, and the captain is captured by the natives.
Episode Eight: The Edge of the Pit
Chandu creeps around the caverns, his powers lost because he is behind the Veil of Ubasti that covers the island. He finds Nadji’s hiding place but can’t free her from the invisible circle within which Vitras has placed her. She warns him that the savages plan to eat his family at moonrise. He discovers a fellow white magician trapped in an underground cell and frees him. It is Tyba, last of the white priests who once ruled Lemuria. Tyba shows Chandu the way out, but it is blocked by a tiger pit. The first magician swings across, but the chain gives way and drops Chandu into the pit with the tiger.
Episode Nine: The Terror Invisible
Fortunately Chandu catches the wall of the pit and Tyba pulls him to safety. Then they make their way to the surface, where they enter the ancient holy place of the white magicians. Chandu can now speak to the yogi, who tells him that if things get too bad he should use “the Great Incantation.” Chandu is unwilling, since it is such a deadly spell. The white magician offers to turn him invisible, using “the powers of mighty Ra.” He goes invisibly to where his family is being tortured and frees his nephew Bob, who escapes. Unfortunately, Chandu’s invisibility wears off, and he is captured.
Chapter Ten: The Crushing Rock
Bob escapes with the help of Tyba, but Chandu is chained to the floor beneath a huge boulder that is slowly being lowered to crush him. Seeing his peril in a crystal ball, they rush to help Chandu – but when Bob attacks the man operating the mechanism that lowers the stone, the stone falls!
Episode Eleven: The Uplifted Knife
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The Return of Chandu (1935)
American movie directed by Ray Taylor. Written by Barry Barringer; based on the popular radio series by Harry Earnshaw, Vera Oldham, and R.R. Morgan. This feature film was made by splicing together the first four episodes of the movie serial of the same name.
Two thugs wait at the airport for the arrival of Frank Chandler “known in the Orient as Chandu the Magician” (Bela Lugosi). Meanwhile, his sweetheart, the Egyptian princess Nadji (Maria Alba) is being introduced to California society by the Regent family – Chandu’s sister Dorothy (Clara Kimball Young) and her son Bob (Dean Benton) and daughter Betty (Phyllis Ludwig). She has been the victim of several failed kidnap attempts. The villainous Vindhyan (Lucien Prival) and his sidekick Sutra (Cyril Armbruster) arrives pretending to be friends of Chandu’s. They plot with the servant Nito (Frazer Acosta) to drug Nadji while Vindhyan’s thugs delay Chandu at the airport. But Chandu spots the thugs, evades them by turning invisible, then materializes in his family home “more than an hour’s drive from the airport.” He save Nadji, and tells her what he has learned: that the Ubasti cult of the Island of Lemuria wants to steal the recently recovered mummy of Ossana, the last high priestess of Ubasti. They believe they can revive her through the sacrifice of an Egyptian princess – Nadji. Chandu hypnotizes Nito and takes him into the study to interrogate him. Nito is killed by a poison dart, but not before Chandu learns that there is a secret shrine of Ubasti in Los Angeles, Chandu decides to take Nadji and the Regent family away on the yacht of his good friend Prince Andra (Bryant Washburn). While Chandu is off arranging for the yacht, the gardener gives Nadji a drugged flower. When she falls asleep, the gardener places her in the mummy case and cult members disguised as museum guards sneak her out of the house. When Chandu returns and finds Nadji gone, he and Bob set off in pursuit. So great is Chandu’s anxiety over Nadji that he nearly drives his car off a cliff. Calming himself Chandu uses his magic ring to call on his teacher the Yogi (voice of Murdock MacQuarrie) for help. The yogi tells him to have faith. Chandu’s faith causes the car to drive itself to where Nadji is being held. Telling Frank to wait outside in the car, Chandu becomes invisible, hypnotizes the guards and rescues her. Chandu gets everyone to the yacht and they set sail. But Chandu is unable to break the spell with which Vindhyan has bound her. Once they are on the high seas Vindhyan steals aboard and attempts to take Nadji away, but is foiled. Then Prince Andra is killed by a cultist and the yacht is held at the island of Suva (apparently a British colony) for an inquiry. Pretending to be policemen, the cultists succeed in capturing Nadji. Since the police are making it too dangerous to get her off the island Vindhyan decides to sacrifice her immediately in their shrine on the island. Chandu tracks Vinhyaan down and sends Bob for the police while he sneaks into the ceremony. A fight breaks out. Chandu and Vindhyan grapple over a sword. The fight ends when Vindhyan accidentally falls into the sacrificial fire.
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Mummy’s Boys (1936)
Directed by Fred Guiol. Written by Philip G. Epstein and Charles E. Roberts. Two zany ditch diggers, Stanley Wright (Bert Wheeler) and Aloysius C. Whittaker (Robert Woolsey) join an expedition seeking – in an odd twist – to return a cursed treasure to the burial chamber of Egyptian King Pharatime. But a crazed killer begins stalking members of the expedition in the tomb. Barbara Pepper plays Wright’s love interest. Curly-haired Bert Wheeler and bespectacled, cigar-smoking Robert Woolsey were vaudevillians who made the transition to the silver screen in a number of films of which this is typical. Mysterious deaths & a Pharaoh’s curse serve as a backdrop to their zany patter.
Who were Wheeler and Woolsey?
Chandu on the Magic Island (1937)
American movie directed by Ray Taylor. Written by Barry Barringer; based on the popular radio series by Harry Earnshaw, Vera Oldham, and R.R. Morgan. This feature film was made by splicing together the last eight episodes of the movie serial “The Return of Chandu.”
On the lost island of Lemuria, plans are hatched to kidnap Princess Nadji of Egypt (Maria Alba), whose soul will revive the mummy of Ossana, last high priestess of Ubasti. The high priest of Ubasti sends the sorcerer-priest Vitras (Jack Clark) to capture the princess. Utilizing the Circle of Orloc, a spell that can only be used once in a magician’s lifetime, Vitras succeeds in teleporting Nadji and himself to Lemuria. But Nadji’s sweetheart is Frank Chandler “known in the Orient as Chandu the Magician” (Bela Lugosi). Chandu, his sister Dorothy (Clara Kimball Young), her son Bob (Dean Benton) and her daughter Betty (Phyllis Ludwig) set off for Lemuria to rescue Nadji. Their yacht is sabotaged leaving everyone shipwrecked on the evil island. The party is soon caught between cannibal natives and the evil priests who have managed to block Chandu’s powers.
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We Want Our Mummy (1939)
The stooges go to Egypt in search of the mummy of King Rootin-Tootin for which a museum will pay a $5000 prize. They wind up in the mummy’s tomb where they are harassed by villains after the same objective. The villains, who have kidnapped a professor from the museum, want the jewels buried inside the mummy. When Curly accidentally destroys the mummy, Moe and Larry wrap him in bandages to fool the bad guys. This lead the villains to think there is a living mummy on the loose. They manage to rescue the professor and retrieve the real mummy of Rootin-Tootin who turns out to have been a midget.
Who were the Three Stooges?
The Mummy’s Hand (1940)
This film opens with a prologue in which Andoheb (George Zucco) is anointed high priest of Karnak by a sect that still worships the old gods of Ancient Egypt. As high priest, he is entrusted with the secret of Kharis, the living mummy. Kharis was a priest of the temple at Karnak in ancient times, but was caught attempting to use the rare and potent tana leaves to restore life to the deceased Princess Ananka, whom he loved. For this unforgivable sacrilege he is buried alive in an unmarked grave. But the priests of Karnak rescued Kharis and have kept him alive for thousands of years using the tana leaves. It is their job to ensure that neither Ananka’s tomb not their nearby temple is desecrated by unbelievers.
Meanwhile, archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and his companion Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford) come across an ancient vase that might lead them to Ananka’s tomb. They show it to Dr. Petrie (Charles Trowbridge), a respected archaeologist who agrees with them, and also to museum curator Andoheb, who decries it as a fake and “accidently” breaks it. Undiscouraged, they decide to form an expedition. Unfortunately, they lack funding. They turn to a well-to-do stage magician and showman named Solvani (Cecil Kellaway) who backs their expedition. Andoheb warns Solvani’s daughter Marta (Peggy Moran), that swindlers are setting up fake expeditions. She confronts Banning and Babe with a gun, but it’s too late: the money is spent. She insists on accompanying them to ensure her father’s safety.
They discover not Ananka’s tomb but that of Kharis. Andoheb raises the mummy Kharis (Tom Tyler) from the dead to destroy them. The mummy kills Petrie, then Ali the guide, then kidnaps Marta, whom he brings to the temple. There, Andoheb reveals his plan to make himself an immortal priest with the tana leaves, and to make her his immortal priestess. Babe discovers the temple and shoots Andoheb. Steve arrives and grapples with the mummy but is defeated. Babe destroys the basin of tana fluid and while the mummy drops to the ground trying to lap up the vanishing fluid, Steve sets him on fire. Steve, Babe and Solvani then uncover Ananka’s tomb and take its artifacts to America to be exhibited, while Steve and Marta make plans to marry.
Note that although this film is specifically dated in 1941 — Solvani announces the date as he signs the contract — there is no recognition that there is a war going on in North Africa.
The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)
Directed by Harold Young. Written by Neil Varnick and Griffin Jay.
It is thirty years since The Mummy’s Hand. Stephen Banning (Dick Foran), now an old man, is telling the story of the discovery of Kharis to his son John (John Hubbard), John’s girlfriend Isobel (Elyse Knox), his own sister Jane (Mary Gordon) and a few other people. He ends by saying they brought back the remains of Princess Ananka, and Marta (John’s mother, now deceased), but not the mummy. One of the listeners remarks, “Why, it’s like hearing from a world beyond.” Steve responds: “At least I had the satisfaction of having destroyed a terrible monster and in doing so rid the world of an awful curse.”
But in fact, neither Kharis nor Andoheb truly died. Andoheb (George Zucco) is preparing to pass on the high priesthood to Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey). He passes on the secret of the tana leaves and orders Mehemet to take Kharis, who “lives for the moment he can carry death and destruction,” to America to bring vengeance upon the Bannings. Mehemet Bey travels with Kharis to Mapleton, Massachusetts, where he becomes a graveyard caretaker. On the first night of the full moon, he brews tana fluid and send Kharis on his mission. The mummy climbs a trellis, enters the house and kills Steve Banning. Mehemet Bey keeps tally: “One is dead. Three remain. Only three.” He prays to his gods for “strength to resist any temptation that may be thrown across my path.”
Old Babe Hanson (Wallace Ford) comes to town for the funeral. The mummy kills Aunt Jane. Babe insists it’s not dust but mold from the mummy being found on Steve’s and Jane’s necks, and warns John to leave town. John says he “can’t believe in a live mummy.” Babe tells a reporter about the mold and is overheard by Mehemet. Shortly after, Kharis traps Babe in an alley and kills him.
John finds a rag caught on a bush and brings it to Professor Norman (Frank Reicher) at the university. Norman notes the presence of mold, myrrh, and embalming “chemicals” 3000 years old: “Like it or not, we’re dealing with the presence of the living dead.” John is drafted and Isobel wants to get married before he leaves. Mehemet spies on them and worries about another Banning heir. He announces to Kharis that he himself will take Isobel as a wife and make them immortal: “together, we three, until the world crumbles.” Kharis is sent to kidnap Isobel.
Meanwhile, a mob forms. Torches are handed out, and an old geezer blabs about an Egyptian working up at the graveyard and “quoting a lot of passages from his Egyptian bible.” As Mehemet prepares the tana fluid for himself and Isobel, the mob approaches. Kharis takes Isobel away while Mehemet confronts the mob. When he pulls a gun on John and announces that for those who defile the tombs of Egypt shall face a violent death, someone shoots him. The mob pursues Kharis to the Banning home. John confronts the mummy, giving Isobel a chance to escape down the trellis. Gunshots distract Kharis and John gets away. The house and the mummy are consumed in flames. The film ends with John’s and Isobel’s wedding.
Note that since The Mummy’s Hand is specifically dated as taking place in 1941 (the date of the contract between Banning and Solvani is read aloud at one point and makes the date explicit) this film should be taking place in 1971 (“thirty years later…”).
The Mummy Strikes (1943)
Directed by Izzy Sparber. Written by Jay Morton. This is one of a series of animated short features from the war era, meant to play in theaters before the feature film. An Egyptologist is found dead and his assistant is convicted of the murder. Newspaper reporter Lois Lane (Joan Alexander) investigates. The accused murderer tells reporter Clark Kent (Bud Collyer) that the murder was caused by the curse of “King Tush.” When the reporters are trapped in the museum with the mummy and his giant guards, it’s a good thing Kent is really Superman.
The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)
Produced by Ben Pivar. Directed by Reginald LeBorg. Written by Griffin Jay, Henry Sucher and Brenda Weisberg.
The movie opens with scenes of the Sphinx and Luxor, followed by a young man ascending the temple steps. This is Yousef Bey (John Carradine), a priest of Arkhan, summoned by the high priest Andoheb (George Zucco), now old and palsied. Andoheb retells the story of Kharis and Princess Ananka, (now called a priestess initiate of Arkhan. Ananka’s tomb was desecrated and twice Kharis was prevented from vengeance. Yet Kharis still lives in spite of his apparent destruction in the burning Banning house “30 years ago.”
The scene shifts to America, where Professor Norman (Frank Reicher) is lecturing his class. He tells them of the Mapleton incidents (from The Mummy’s Tomb), which one of the students dismisses as having been caused by “a man made up as a mummy, to keep the legend alive.” But the professor disagrees: he was an eyewitness and knows a little about tana leaves. When the bell rings, he promises more Egyptian history next time, and less of the “ lurid and non-curricular subject of living mummies.”
Among Norman’s students are Tom Harvey (Robert Lowery) and Amina Mansori (Ramsay Ames), who is part Egyptian. She is reading The Tombs of Ancient Egypt but in response to Tom’s query she confesses she doesn’t like to think of Egypt: “Something happens to me when I think of Egypt”; it troubles her.
Meanwhile, back in Egypt Youssef Bey takes an oath “by the ancient gods of Egypt that you will never rest until the Princess Ananka and Kharis have been returned to their rightful resting places” in the tombs of Egypt. After he is taught the secret of the tana leaves, Yousef Bey heads to America to retrieve Kharis and the inanimate mummy of Ananka.
Professor Norman, having discovered an “elusive hieroglyphic” specifying the number nine in reference to tana leaves, is working late despite his wife’s protestations that he should come to bed. The Professor brews nine leaves, and somewhere in Maplewood Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.) bursts through a rail fence, following the scent of the tana fluid. (We never get an explanation as to his surviving the fire in the last film or what he’s been doing for the past thirty years). The mummy’s shadow passes over Amina and she rises and begins sleepwalking. The mummy kills the Professor, drinks the tana fluid, and leaves mold on his neck. Amina sees the mummy leaving and faints outside. When investigators led by Inspector Walgreen (Barton MacLane) arrive the next day, they find Amina collapsed near the scene with a white streak in her hair. The newspaper runs a headline: “Egyptian Girl Linked to Mystery Killing” and she’s warned by the sheriff (Harry Shannon) not to leave town.
Yousef visits the Scripps Museum and looks at Ananka’s mummy, lamenting that the priests are “powerless now to prevent the gaze of heretics resting upon her.” He hides until after hours. Kharis arrives, but when he approaches Ananka’s mummy, Amina at home screams, and Ananka turns to dust: “Her soul has entered another form,” Youssef tells Kharis. Kharis goes berserk and kills a watchman (Oscar O’Shea).
Inspector Walgreen tries reconstructing the crime in the Noman home, burning tana and digging a 10-foot pit for the mummy, which never works out. Tom suggests he and Amina go to New York together, but she has become icy about the prospect of marriage. Bey prays to the gods of Egypt for guidance, and a mystical light takes Kharis to a sleepwalking Amina. Tom and a mob of townspeople set off in pursuit.
Yousef has Amina, with more white hair now, tied down. He tells her she’s the reincarnation of Ananka and shows her the birthmark on her hand to prove it. Yousef explains that he should kill her and inject her with tana fluid to reunite her with Kharis. But he is seduced by the same temptation that overcame Andoheb: to make himself and her immortal. Kharis hears Youssef’s plans and kills him in fury. As the mob arrives, the mummy takes an unconscious Amina out of the shack and walks with her into the swamp. Tom is warned, “You can’t go in that swamp. It’s certain death.” The townsfolk watch in awe as the unconscious Amina ages into a mummy and sinks into the bog with Kharis. The movie ends with a voice over: “The fate of those who defy the will of the ancient gods shall be a cruel and violent death.”
Note that this film supposedly takes place thirty years after the events of the Mummy’s Tomb, which takes place thirty years after the events of the Mummy’s Hand. This would put us in the year 2001! Professor Norman has aged astonishingly well over those thirty years…
A Night of Magic (1944)
British. Produced by Burt Hyams. Directed by Herbert Wynn. Written by Eversley Bracken. Starring Robert Griffith, Gordon Ray. Reggie (Robert Griffith) dreams of receiving a 3000-year-old mummy, which turns out to be a very attractive and lively Egyptian princess (Marian Olive).
The Mummy’s Curse (1945)
Directed by Leslie Goodwins.
Written by Bernard Shubert, Leon Abrams and Dwight V. Babcock.
The film opens a quarter century after the last film, The Mummy’s Ghost, in Tante Berthe’s Cafe, where Cajun Joe (Kurt Katch) and other workers discuss their fears about their new job, a swamp reclamation project. It seems a worker named Antoine has disappeared. Cajun Joe recounts the legend of the mummies Kharis and Princess Ananka haunting the area. “The swamps have got a curse on them,” Cajun Joe says.
The next day several of the laborers tell their fears to the project supervisor, Pat Walsh (Addison Richards) who derides their fears and shouts at them to return to work. He is still in a bad mood when Jim Halsey (Dennis Moore) arrives from the Scripps Museum with his assistant Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) to search for the mummies before they are destroyed by the reclamation project. Although they assure him their search for Kharis and Ananka will not interfere with his workers, Walsh tells “I don’t want a lot of college professors getting in my way!” His niece/secretary, Betty (Kay Harding), argues with him, urging him to let them stay.
While they are discussing it, Antoine’s corpse is discovered. One of the workers, Goobie (Napoleon Simpson), shouts that “The Devil’s on the loose.” Halsey discovers the imprint of a mummy body in the mud and a fragment of bandage. Goobie then says that “The Devil’s on the loose and he’s dancin’ with the mummy!”
That night, Zandaab’s lackey Ragheb (Martin Kosleck) leads him to a remote abandoned chapel. He explains that he hired Antoine and other workers to help him cart the mummy of Kharis there and then killed them. Most of the bodies are buried in the chapel cellar but Antoine escaped, dying, into the swamp. Zandaab tells Ragheb the secret of the Tana leaves: “three leaves to keep his heart beating, once each night during the cycle of the full moon. I will dissolve three tana leaves and give the fluid to Kharis … and nine each night to give life and movement.” Ragheb is sworn to secrecy in the name of “Amon-Ra, whose anger can shatter the world.” In the sacred smoke, we revisit scenes from The Mummy (1932) and The Mummy’s Hand (1940), regarding the same 3000-year-old history of Kharis’ crime and punishment. During the flashback, we discover that the two previous priests who have come from Egypt to the U.S. to retrieve the mummies have met violent deaths. They give Kharis tana juice and he rises. Just in time, too, for suddenly they are confronted by Michael (William Farnum), the caretaker, who has discovered the murdered men and the “sacriligious” goings-on. Kharis kills him.
In the wake of a bulldozer, a woman’s hand slowly emerges from the muck, and gradually a earth-encrusted Ananka (Virginia Christie) arises. The sun revives her, but she staggers mindlessly in the Bayou, wistfully mumbling “Kharis.” Cajun Joe finds her and brings her to Tante Berthe’s side room. Ragheb witnesses this and rushes off to tell Zandaab. The high priest summons Kharis to announce that they have found his bride: “Now you shall go and take her…. And any who stand in your way, kill, kill!” Kharis goes to the Cafe, limps up the side stairs, and strangles Berthe (Ann Codee) to death. Ananka, who cannot recognize Kharis in her amnesiac state, flees.
Ananka is discovered unconscious on the work site. Astonishingly, she can read hieroglyphics, so she is quickly hired as an assistant by Jim Halsey. She insists on working in the sun and Jim is astounded that she knows so much about ancient Egyptian gauze.
Zandaab sees Ananka at Halsey’s camp, and uses his power to send her into a trance, murmuring “Kharis.” She is snapped out of it by Jim. Later, she senses correctly that Kharis is coming for her, so she appeals to the local doctor, Dr. Cooper (Holmes Herbert), saying, “It’s as though I were two different people. Sometimes it seems as if I belong to a different world. I find myself in strange surroundings with strange people. I cannot ever seem to find rest. And now Kharis!” When the mummy arrives Cooper tries to stop it and is killed. Ananka flees again.
Walsh blames the murders and the disappearance of Ananka on Halsey. Betty refuses to help her uncle pull the plug on the Scripps project though. A search for “the girl” is launched, during which Cajun Joe encounters Kharis. He shoots, but the mummy kills Cajun Joe. Ananka seeks refuge with to Betty, claiming to hate the darkness. The mummy arrives and takes Ananka to the monastery. Ragheb seizes the hapless Betty.
Ananka is encased in a sarcophagus to be returned to Egypt, removed from her mortal form, and “there to be embraced by the sands of the past.” Ragheb brings Betty Walsh to the monastery, infuriating Zandaab, who puts the “curse of Amon-Ra” on him: “Your tongue shall be torn from your mouth” for the violation of his vows of secrecy, Zandaab tells him, and Betty must die too. Ragheb knifes him just as Jim arrives to save Betty. Kharis comes on the scene and pursues Ragheb, who claims, “If you destroy me, the secret of the tana leaves will die!” But Kharis keeps coming. Ragheb locks himself in a cell, but Kharis bursts through the wall, causing the collapse of the monastery onto Ragheb and himself. All others arrive. Goobie points out that Ananka has reverted to being an ancient mummy in her coffin
Note that this film claims to take place 25 years after the events of The Mummy’s Ghost, which takes place thirty years after the events of the Mummy’s Tomb, which takes place thirty years after the events of the Mummy’s Hand. This would put us in the year 2026.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy
Pete (Bud Abbott) and Freddie (Lou Costello), a couple of Americans stranded in Cairo, overhear archaeologist Dr. Zoomer (Kurt Katch) chatter about discovering the legendary mummy Klaris, who will provide the secret needed to locate the lost tomb of Princess Ara and her legendary treasure. Followers of the high priest Semu (Richard Deacon) are outraged, and Madame Rontru (Mary Windsor) and her henchmen are also interested: “There is no curse that a gun or a knife can’t cure.”
Bud and Lou decide to apply for the job as a way to get a free ride back to the United States. But when they arrive at the archaeologist’s home, they find he has been murdered and the mummy seems to have disappeared. The priests of Semu are keeping the mummy (Eddie Parker) alive but his sacred medallion is missing. Both priests and crooks are looking for the medallion, while Pete and Freddie are suspected of the murder and must disguise themselves as snake charmers. The pair find the medallion but when they try to hock it everyone flees from them (“Whoever holds the medallion dies a horrible death”). Lou accidentally swallows it, then falls into the hands of the crooks, who fluoroscope him. An expedition is formed and the high priest of Semu joins it disguised as a professor. In the tomb, he unleashes Klaris. Meanwhile, Bud disguises himself as a fake mummy to scare away the crooks even as one of the crooks pretends to be a mummy. After considerable confusion, the tomb blows up, destroying the crooks and the mummy but revealing the treasure. Semu is depressed that the tomb has been violated and the legend destroyed. Bud promises to keep the legend alive. They use the money to open an elegant nightclub, Kafe Klaris, where Semu is the maître d’ and the band consists of musicians dressed in bandages.
Who were Abbott and Costello?
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Curse of the Pharoahs (1957)
Directed by Lee Sholem. Written by Richard Landau. Also released as The Pharoah’s Curse. Archaeologists in Egypt enter a Pharoah’s tomb, only to discover that the curse of the cat-goddess Bastet has turned one of their number into a blood-sucking mummy. Captain Storm (Mark Dana), Sylvia Quentin (Diane Brewster), Simira (Ziva Rodann), Numar (Alvaro Guillot), Robert Quentin (George N. Neise), Walter Andrews (Ben Wright), Sergeant Gromley (Richard Peel), Sergeant Smolett (Terrence de Mamey), Dr. Michael Farraday (Guy Prescott)
The Mummy (1959)
Christopher Lee appears as Kharis in this British remake of the Universal Kharis series. Produced by Michael Carreras, it was written by Jimmy Sangster and directed by Terence Fisher. The plot is a synthesis of old Universal Kharis movies.
Kharis (Christopher Lee) is entombed alive for sacrilege and made guardian of Ananka’s tomb. When the tomb is discovered by archaeologists led by Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer) and his son David (Peter Cushing), Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), the high priest of the god Karnak (sic), brings the mummy to life. The resurrected mummy drives the elder Banning mad. He seeks to destroy them all but fails. Mehemet Bey and Kharis follow the archaeologists to London, where the mummy begins killing them off one by one. But the priests have reckoned without the fact that David Banning’s wife Isobel (Yvonne Furneaux) looks exactly like Ananka when she puts her hair down. She is able to order Kharis to stop from killing her husband. When the priest tries to kill her, Kharis turns on him, then seizes the woman and carries her off. They are trapped by police in the swamp. Kharis sets the woman down and they blow him apart with shotguns while he sinks into quicksand.
I Was a Teenage Mummy (1962)
Written and directed by Ralph C. Bluemke. Very low budget parody of mummy movies.
Mummy’s Dummies (1965)
In a live-action sequence, the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe DeRita) are digging for buried treasure. They find a chest, which proves to contain another chest, which contains another chest… The last small box contains a message, saying the cartoon is a real winner. In fact, it isn’t. In the cartoon, the Three Stooges get lost inside a pyramid while looking for treasure, and get chased out by mummies who object to having their sleep interrupted.
This has the same title as the 1948 short live-action Stooge’s comedy. This, however, is part of a cartoon series that aired in the mid-sixties that sandwiched a Stooges cartoon between two live action scenes.
The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)
British film written and directed by John Gilling. When the Pharaoh Men-Ta is overthrown by his jealous brother Amen-Ta, a loyal slave, Prem (Eddie Powell), escapes with Men-Ta’s son, Kah-To-Bey, into the desert. After weeks of wandering, they collapse of exhaustion. The boy pharaoh gives the royal seal to Prem and dies. Prem covers him with a sacred shroud and, after carving the event in stone, dies with his pharaoh.
Four thousand years later, in 1920, archaeologist Sir Basil Walden (Andre Morel) stumbles on the tomb of Kah-To-Bey while lost in the desert without supplies. Walden and his team Harry Newton (Tim Barrett), Paul Prescott (David Buck) and Claire de Sangre (Maggie Kimberley) decide to enter the tomb in spite of Claire’s clairvoyant visions of menace. Sir Basil is bitten by a poisonous snake just moments before the arrival of a rescue team led by Stanley Prescott (John Phillips), Paul’s father, who financed the expedition.. Preston accompanies them into the tomb.
Hasmid Ali (Roger Delgado) appears out of nowhere to warn them not to enter the tomb. He tells them that whoever enters the tomb will die, but they ignore him. When the mummy is uncovered, Claire refuses to read the hieroglyphics shroud, because it refers to “the sacred words of life and death.”
The remains of Kah-To-Bey and Prem are taken to a museum in Mazara. Basil, in ill health, begins to take the curse seriously, and Preston has him placed in an insane asylum, leading to an estrangement between father and son. Basil escapes and finds refuge with Haiti the fortune-teller (Catherine Lacey), who claims to see a murderous spirit in her crystal ball and predicts Basil will soon die. The murderous spirit is none other than Hasmid Ali, her son, who reads aloud the hieroglyphics on the shroud of Kah-To-Bey and brings a vengeful Prem to life. The mummy crushes Basil’s head.
A museum janitor discovers Basil’s body, and when the police and Egyptologists arrive they discover that the shroud has been stolen.
Now Preston begins to fear the curse and wants to leave the country, but the police inspector (Richard Warner) won’t let him. Preston’s wife (Elizabeth Sellars) taunts him, saying she’s perfectly happy to stay in Egypt since she didn’t enter the tomb.
Meanwhile, Harry is developing photos of the shroud for Claire and for the police. Hasmid Ali again brings the mummy to life. Harry throws acid at the mummy and stabs it, but Prem crushes a jar of acid over Harry. In the struggle, a fire starts. The mummy escapes; Harry doesn’t.
News of Harry’s death convinces Preston that someone will try to kill him, so he sends his lackey, Longbarrow (Michael Ripper) to book passage back to England. Longbarrow breaks his glasses on the way home from the shipping office and is therefore an easy victim for the mummy. When Longbarrow fails to return, Preston tries to flee the country. He fails to recognize Hasmid Ali, who pretends to be a lackey and tells Preston to wait in an alley while he gets transportation. What he really does is resuscitate the mummy again. Prem smashes Preston’s head against the wall.
The inspector is now willing to admit that someone is killing all the Egyptologists who entered the tomb. He offers to let Paul and Claire leave the country, but Claire goes off to see the gypsy, who laughs maniacally about impending death and urges her to pray for forgiveness. Meanwhile, Paul sees fresh blood on the mummy’s fingers. While Claire prays to Prem and Kah-to-bey to forgive her, Hasmid Ali reanimates the mummy, which nearly strangles Paul. Neither Paul’s axe nor the inspector’s gun are any use against it. Paul calls on Claire to speak the sacred words of death, but Hasmid Ali tells them mockingly that the words work only with the shroud. The inspector shoots Hasmid, and Claire takes the shroud from him and reads words of death. The attacking mummy collapses and slowly crumbles to dust. Claire respectfully replaces the shroud over Kah-To-Bey’s remains.
Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
Hammer horror film written and directed by Michael Carreras. European Egyptologists Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland), Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwyllim) and John Bray (Ronald Howard) discover the tomb of the Egyptian prince Ra-Atef (Dickie Owen). Their backer, American entrepreneur and investor Alexander King (Fred Clark), insists on shipping the treasures and sarcophagus back to England for tour and display. On board the ship, they meet wealthy Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan) who expresses an interest in Annette. John doesn’t mind; he is engaged to Annette but feels marriage will make him “moribund as a mummy.”
Once they reach London, the centuries dead prince is awakened and murders first King and then others. When Inspector MacKenzie (John Paul) refuses to take seriously the idea of a living mummy, John teams up with Hasmi Bey (George Pastell), an Egyptian who had tried to stop the expedition, to destroy the mummy but Hashmi gets killed. The mummy kidnaps Annette, but Adam comes after her. He reveals that he is the mummy’s immortal brother, Be, cursed with eternal life. He revived Ra-Atef so that the mummy would kill him, as he cannot stand the idea of three thousand more years of life. The mummy does kill him and the room in which they are in collapses. Annette escapes.
The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (1969)
Directed by Oliver Drake. Written by William Edwards. A professor of
Egytology (Anthony Eiseley) reads about a magic spell called “the curse of the jackals” on the sarcophagus of one of two mummies he has stolen. He decides to try out the incantation. The magic works and the professor is turned into a were-jackal. The spell also awakens the mummies. One is a beautiful bosomy princess and the other a large (fat?) mummy with a huge lazy eye. Soon the jackal and mummies are stalking the streets of Las Vegas wreaking havoc. Finally, the goddess Isis pops up to put everything right.
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)
Slow-moving but atmospheric film based on Bram Stoker’s “Jewel of the Seven Stars.” Hammer horror film directed by Seth Holt and Michael Carreras, written by Christopher Wicking. A group of Egyptologists discover the tomb of the evil queen Tera. At the very moment of their discovery, a girl is born to the wife of the expedition’s leader. When the archaeologist gives her Tera’s ruby ring as a birthday gift, the spirit of Tera awakens within her. One by one, the members of the expedition are gruesomely murdered as they try to find a way to destroy the spirit of Tera.
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Directed by Robert Fuest. Written by Robert Fuest and Robert Blees. In this sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the skull-faced genius Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) rises from the dead to find his house demolished and his papyrus scrolls missing. The scrolls hold the secret to find “The Pharaoh’s Tomb” in Egypt, which he requires to bring back his wife from the dead. Phibes and his dutiful assistant (daughter?) Vulnavia (Valli Kemp) set out to punish the archaeologists who stole the scrolls (a team led by Robert Quary as Dr. Biederbeck) and to find the scrolls. In this series, the always villain wins – he is last seen inside the tomb, rowing a sarcophagus containing his wife’s body into the river of immortality.
La Venganza de la Momia (1973)
Spanish film directed by Carlos Aured Alonso. Written by Jacinto Molina and Paul Naschy. Produced by Francisco Sanchez. The evil pharaoh Aminhotep (Paul Naschy) and his sadistic wife Amarna (Rina Ottolina) drink blood and lovingly feed one another grapes as they torture innocent people to death. Destroyed in an uprising, the mummy of Amimhotep is restored to life thousands of years later through the sacrifice of a virgin by occultist Assad Bey (also Naschy). Aminhotep finds Amarna reincarnated as Helen (also Ottolina) and sets off on a violent rampage as he tries to reclaim her from her current lover Norton Stark (Jack Taylor), her father Sir Douglas Carter (Eduardo Calvo) and the police, led by Inspector Taylor (Luis Davila). Also released as The Vengeance of the Mummy and The Mummy’s Revenge.
The Cat Creature (1973)
Made-for-TV US film directed by Curtis Harrington. Teleplay by Robert Bloch from a story by Douglas S. Cramer & Wilford Lloyd Baumes and Robert Bloch. A thief (Keye Luke) steals an amulet of Bast from the neck of a mummy in the “secret collection” of Egyptian artifacts of recently deceased collector Hiram Drake. Estate appraiser Frank Lucas (Kent Smith) notices that both amulet and mummy are missing but is killed by something in the darkness. The thief attempts to fence the amulet Hester Black (Gale Sondergaard), who throws him out. In his confusion, the thief leaves his attache case, in which the amulet is concealed. Hester gives the attaché case as a present to her clerk, Sherry Hastings (Renee Jarrett). On her way home, Sherry finds a black cat which she takes home and feeds. It hypnotizes her and she throws herself from her balcony. A few days later, Rina Carter (Meredith Baxter) is hired by Hester.
Meanwhile, archaeology professor Roger Edmonds (David Hedison) meets Lt. Marco (Stuart Whitman), a police detective, to investigate the missing artifacts (Lucas was taping his notes, so the police know that mummy and amulet are missing). Roger notes that the empty sarcophagus seems linked to the Bast cult, which was wiped out in 450 BC because it practiced human sacrifice.
Lt. Marco takes Roger to a number of local shops that might deal in stolen goods, including Hester’s. Roger meets Rina and returns to ask her out to dinner. She avoids questions about her past. Marco tracks the thief to a flophouse, where his body is found clawed to death. Marco arrives at Hester’s shop and is told that Roger is at Rina’s house. He telephones and informs Roger that he found a pawn ticket on the thief’s body, and that the Egyptian government has offered a $50,000 reward for the return of the amulet. Hester overhears the discussion. After a brief trip to the morgue — where they are informed that the thief’s body has been drained of blood – they proceed to the pawn shop. They are too late; the owner stumbles out of the back room with a knife in his back, and dies.
It is Hester who has murdered the pawnbroker and stolen the amulet, but now she too is killed, clawed to death. The amulet is discovered sewn in her cape. Roger examines it and discovers that it is protective device. He goes to Rina’s house and accuses her of being one of the priestesses of Bast who were buried alive. Removing the amulet caused her to awaken. She confirms his hypothesis and offers him eternal life with her; when he refuses, she attacks him in her cat form. He slips the amulet around the cat’s neck. It reverts to Rina, then she withers into the form of a mummy and collapses into dust. When Marco arrives. Roger shows them Rina’s remains.
The Awakening (1980)
A British film directed by Mike Newell. Written by Allan Scott, Chris Bryant and Clive Exton. The film opens with an argument between archaeologist Matthew Corbeck (Charleton Heston) and his pregnant wife Annie (Jill Townsend). Matthew is trying to discover a nameless lost queen of Egypt and Annie feels that he’s spending too much time on his job, and particularly with his assistant Jane (Susannah York).
Corbeck and Jane find a tomb and read a curse (or prophecy) in hieroglyphics: “Beware the man who comes from northern skies,” as “the nameless one” must not be allowed to live again. As they bash into the tomb, Annie has pains in her womb and lapses into a coma. Corbeck visits her briefly, then returns to the dig. She awakens with a scream as they enter the tomb, and gives birth. At first the baby appears to be stillborn, but it comes alive when Corbeck opens the sarcophagus of “the nameless one,” who turns out to be named Kara. The mummy’s hand is disturbingly supple, and in fact the whole mummy turns out to be inexplicably well-preserved. An Egyptian antiquities official confronts Corbeck about irregularities in his dig, but the official loses his life when a rope catches him and he falls to his death.
Eighteen years later a visitor arrives from Egypt to inform Corbeck (who has grown a beard) that following an eclipse, the perfectly preserved items he discovered have begun to decay. Corbeck makes plans to return to Egypt to see why. Meanwhile, his ex-wife Annie is living in the U.S. with daughter Margaret (Stephanie Zimbalist). Annie is still angry about Corbeck deserting them for Jane, whom he has married, but Margaret announces her intention to go to England and meet him.
Matthew goes to Egypt, and makes plans for transporting the remains to Britain to study the reasons for the decay. A local bacteriologist wants to take a sample of Kara’s flesh, but is killed in a car accident. Kara’s body is shipped to England.
Margaret appears during one of her father’s lectures and a happy reunion ensues. He takes her to see Kara’s mummy, saying, “it’s time you two met.” They go out to dinner and he tells her the story of Kara.
Kara died when she was only 18, Margaret’s age. Her father the pharaoh killed Kara’s lover and married her himself. She sought revenge by crushing him under a stone block, then set about eradicating all knowledge of him not only by defacing his inscriptions but by killing everyone who had ever known him. The people rose up against her and entombed her, eradicating all knowledge of her, as she had done to her father. But they do know that Kara was a witch who could reincarnate herself through a ritual involving the canopic jars that held her viscera and a magical jewel with seven stars.
The next day Margaret visits her father at the Egyptology Department of the university, and hears that the mummy’s canopic jars were never found. Corbeck’s colleague Paul (Patrick Drury) meets Margaret, and later calls her for a date. Paul is a microbiologist and he discovers a strange virus in Kara’s body, which he says should be immediately shipped back to Egypt. Corbeck asks Margaret to accompany him back to Egypt, since she has never “seen it, tasted the place.” Jane expresses concern about Corbeck’s “infatuation” with his daughter.
In the tomb, Margaret goes into a trance and talks strangely about marrying and hating her father. An assistant, Yussef (Ahmed Osman), is killed in a booby-trapped room, but the accident uncovers the canopic jars. When Corbeck smuggles these back to Egypt, his wife Jane realizes that he intends to attempt to enact the ritual that will restore Kara. But Corbeck is ambivalent about what he is doing, full of secret fears. When a mathematician he consults calculates that the astral signs are exactly as they were in 1800 BC, Matthew calls Jane and tells her to get a secret key to the safe and destroy the jars. She tries, but light bulbs blow out, and a wind begins to blow through the house. In hysteria, she falls off a balcony and is killed by a shard that falls and cuts her throat.
Margaret and Corbeck become increasingly aberrant in their behaviors. Eventually, Margaret ends up comatose in a hospital bed. Paul blames Matthew’s obsession for Margaret’s mental state, and Matthew replies that Kara is forcing his hand.
Margaret awakens when her father begins the ritual. Matthew invokes Anubis and Osiris and pours his own wrist blood into fires. Margaret joins him as he cuts open the bandages to reveal Kara’s skeleton. “May Anubis take away my eyes. Open thine,” he recites, but he begins to doubt. “There’s nothing there.”
Suddenly it dawns on him that the ritual is not really intended to raise the body of Kara but restore her in the body of Margaret, who is her reincarnation. He batters and tears at the mummy. Margaret hisses at him. Her father looks at her in horror as he is killed by a collapse of stone blocks. His last sight is the eyes of Kara looking at him from Margaret’s face.
Dawn of the Mummy (1981)
Written and directed by Frank Agrama. Starring Brenda King, Joan Levy, Ellen Faison, Ali Azab, Dianne Beatty, Ali Gohar, Ibrahim Khan, Ahmed Laban, Laila Nasr, George Peck, Ahmed Rateb, Bahar Saied, John Salvo and Barry Sattels.
Tomb robbers enter a mummy’s tomb and unleash its undead occupants. Unfortunately, a group of fashion models on a photographic shoot in Egypt chooses that day to do their photo shoot in the tomb. This is part of the American “gore-fest” style of horror films. Unlike most other mummy movies, it seems to have been actually shot here in Egypt with some Egyptian actors (most of whom die). The opening sequence supposedly takes place during the reign of the evil Pharoah Safiraman in 3000 BC Safiraman is obviously a man ahead of his time, since he rides his chariot before the ruined pyramids of Giza 600 years before the pyramids were built, and around fifteen hundred years before the Hyksos introduced the chariot to Egypt.
Read a review of this film
O Segredo da Mumia (1982)
Brazilian film in Portuguese directed by Ivan Cardoso. Obsessed with discovering the secret of immortality, Professor Expedito Vitus (Jose Mojica Marins), sets out to reassemble an ancient map which has been divided into eight parts. The map leads him to Egypt and “the most important archaeological discovery of the century”: the tomb of Runamb. Vitus brings the mummy back to Brazil, where he reanimates it. Unfortunately, Runamb (Anseimo Vasconceilos) turns out to have been a dangerous psychopathic murderer in his own day. He is obsessed with the image of Nadja, a dancer who once refused him, and he now turns his obsession to Miriam (Tania Boscoli), a radio station reporter who he insists is Nadja’s reincarnation. Released with English subtitles as The Secret of the Mummy
Also released as Being From Another Planet. Directed by Tom Kennedy. Written by Tom Friedman and Karen Levitt. Professor Doug McCadden (Ben Murphy) is in charge of opening his university’s latest acquisition – a sealed Egyptian sarcophagus. Inside he and his students find an ancient mummy and a mold-like substance which eats the flesh of anyone touching it. While the others study the mummy scientifically, sneaky student Pete Sharpe (Kevin Brophy) finds five hidden jewels in the bottom of the casket. He distributes them to various co-eds he is romancing (or hoping to romance). Meanwhile, the x-rays taken of the mummy for analysis revitalize it and it goes forth at night (with its chest glowing) to reclaim the jewels. McCadden, after examining the x-rays, comes to the conclusion that it is not really an ancient Egyptian but an alien being under the wrappings. There are apparently two versions of this film with slightly different endings. The original ends with a promise for a sequel (“To be continued…”) which was apparently never made.
Directed by Steven Charles Jaffe. Written by Robert Jaffe and Alvaro Forque. Made in Spain as Escarabajos Asesinos. A group of Nazis attempts to use Ancient Egyptian magic to bring one of their fallen comrades back from the dead. But the body becomes possessed by the powerful spirit of Khepera (Rip Torn), who wreaks vengeance on those who called it forth.
The Hunger (1983)
Directed by Tony Scott. Written by Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas. Ancient Egyptian vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and her 17th Century era lover John (David Bowie) are hip vampires in New York. Suddenly, the infusion of blood by which Miriam made John a vampire fades and he begins to age. He seeks out Dr. Susan Roberts (Susan Seranden), who researches premature aging. She is unable to save him or even understand what’s happening to him. She seeks answers from Miriam only to be seduced by her and to become her newest “immortal” lover.
Again, not a mummy movie per se, but one that introduces an immortal Egyptian.
The Tomb (1985)
Directed by Fred Olen Ray. Written by Kenneth J. Hall. When the tomb of the immortal Egyptian woman Nefratis (Michelle Bauer) is robbed, she travels to the United States to seek vengeance on all those who were involved with the robbery (including not just the thieves but the various archaeologists who bought the artifacts).
I’m Dangerous T o night (1990)
Directed by Tobe Hooper. Written by Bruce Lansbury and Philip John Taylor. A cursed Ancient Egyptian piece of cloth finds its way to an unsuspecting young girl named Amy (Mädchen Amick), who makes a dress out of it. When she wears it looses all inhibitions and moral responsibilities, to the shock of her boyfriend Eddie (Corey Parker). The dress passes to Amy’s friend (Dee Wallace Stone) who becomes not only sexually uninhibited but murderous.
The Mummy A.D. (1993)
In this 20 minute film, a mad suburbanite (David Nelson), who thinks he’s an Egyptian high priest, keeps a mummy sequestered in his backyard tomb/garage, and raises it from the dead to get revenge his enemies. As relatives and neighborhood acquaintances are killed, Detective Rock Nelson (also Nelson) – twin brother of the ersatz high priest –is called in. With the help of Andrew “Chief” Moritz and Janet-Lynne Okulanis, they battle the mummy with toy pistols, swords, ping-pong ball guns, smoke bombs, and pepper spray.
David “The Rock” Nelson is a former Golden Gloves boxer (1976-1991) who makes silly short horror movies on video with his friends as the stars and no budget to speak of. Somehow he has managed to move himself beyond amateur status by marketing these films worldwide via small distributors specializing in off-beat “trash” video. He has also exploited the recent cult status (and film incarnation) of Ed Wood by appearing on several television shows as “the Ed Wood of the ‘90’s.”
The Mummy’s Dungeon (1993)
Seven models enter an Egyptian tomb for a photo shoot. A devotee of an ancient cult kidnaps and sacrifices one of them, her blood restoring to life a sadistic and lustful mummy (Dave Castiglione). The mummy then sets out to rape and torture the other six models (Michelle Caporaletti, Amanda Madison, Dawn Lewis, Clancey McCauley, Launa Kane, Cristie Clark) trapped in his tomb. This contribution to Mummy movie lore was made by Wave Productions, which specializes in films that emphasize nudity, torture, rape, graphic violence and general misogyny (what the company euphemistically calls a “damsels in distress” theme).
Directed by Roland Emmerich and Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Written by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.
The story begins in Giza, Egypt in 1928, where an archaeological expedition unearths an enormous ring with cryptic markings. The film then moves to the present day, where Egyptologist Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is trying to convince a group of skeptics that the pyramids were not built by humans but by an extraterrestrial force. After the lecture, Spader is recruited by the mysterious Catherine (Viveca Lindfors) for a top-secret project. It seems her father was the archaeologist who discovered the ring in 1928; the U.S. military now has the artifact in an underground facility. Daniel’s help is needed to translate symbols on a set of tiles that will reveal how to use the objects.
The tiles turn out to be the key that turns a lock in a stargate. When opened, the stargate cuts across time and space, allowing instantaneous travel to an Earth-like world on the other side of the universe, a world called Abydos. The army sends Colonel Jack O’Neill (Kurt Russell) and his reconnaissance team through the stargate to see what’s on the other side. They send Jackson along to read the symbols that will be on the other side of the stargate, so he can bring the team back. O’Neill and his troops, along with Jackson, end up inside a pyramid on a desert planet with three moons in the sky. It seems to be peopled primarily by technologically primitive slaves who mine a precious metal needed by their master, the immortal, androgynous Ra (Jaye Davidson). Ra is the last of his god-like kind. He is responsible for creating humans (to be slaves of his race), but those on earth turned on him and buried the stargate.
Once on the other side of the stargate, O’Neil and his team discover that Jackson can’t get them back again. Meanwhile, the slave peoples believe Jackson is a demi-god who has come to liberate them. He falls in love with the beautiful slave girl Sha’uri (Mili Avital), and sets out to do just that. In the end, the earthlings kill Ra with a nuclear device and free the people. O’Neil was secretly under orders to destroy the stargate; instead, he leaves Jackson there to lead the natives and returns with his troops to the Earth.
Stargate is an Egyptian mythological fantasy designed for those whose mythologies come not from Wallis Budge but from Erich van Daniken. Time and space are conquered not by magic but by advanced technologies known to the Ancients but forgotten. The ancient gods live – but as immortal aliens.
Stargate was turned into a highly popular American television program. In the pilot, retired Colonel Jack O’Neil (Richard Dean Anderson) is called back to discuss his mission through the stargate. O’Neil is informed that the stargate was opened from the other side, and a raid by someone very much like Ra has left four soldiers dead and one missing. He confesses that he disobeyed his orders to destroy the stargate on Abydos, which would have closed the passageway forever and, perhaps, killed everyone on the planet. He admits that he left Jackson (Michael Shanks) to live with the people. He is called into action again to lead another team through the stargate to see if there’s a threat and if Jackson is still alive.
O’Neil discovers that the threat didn’t come from Abydos. However, Jackson has discovered a map of many stargates scattered throughout the galaxy. The attack could thus have come from any planet with a stargate. Shortly afterward, Abydos itself is attacked. Many are killed and Jackson’s wife is kidnapped. O’Neil and Jackson track down this new threat both for the sake of those taken and to protect the Earth.
Subsequent episodes involve probes by the terrestrial stargate teams to new planets through the stargate, as well as visits (and invasions) of earth through the stargate.
The Stargate TV Series is produced by MGM (http://www.stargate-sg1.com/home.html) and now airs on Showtime (http://www.stargatesg-1.com/index2.cfm). It is one of those programs that inspires a great deal of fan activity, much of it on-line. This can be monitored through fan web sites. A good resource is the Stargate Fandom Ring (http://sirocco.tlm.com/portal/ring_sgfandom.shtml), which includes some 15 sites. Some of these have pseudo-Egyptian names, like The Sarcophagus (http://www.sg1fan.homestead.com/) and Heliopolis (http://www.sg1-heliopolis.de/). There is also a Stargate On-Line Role Playing Game (http://www.stargaterpg.org/).
“lacking in any sense of wonder” Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)
“Think Star Wars meets Ben-Hur” Chris Hines (Deseret News)
“loopy, mostly entertaining” Hal Hinson (Washington Post)
The Mummy Lives (1995)
British millionaire Lord Maxton (Jack Cohen) wants to enter a tomb he has discovered but is refused permission by an official from the Ministry of Antiquities (Mohammed Bakri), who shuts down his excavation. Meanwhile, Sandra Barnes (Leslie Hardy) comes to Egypt to sort out her life after her father’s death and her breakup with her fiancé. Her first night in Egypt is haunted by dreams. As Maxton and his party break into the tomb by night, Sandra dreams the story of Aziru, high priest of Zoth (“god of vengeance”), who was caught in an act of “forbidden love” with Kia, a “sacred concubine of Zoth” and was punished by being mummified alive. Maxton and the archaeologists enter the tomb and discover the sarcophagus of Aziru, but flee when the official returns. The official turns out to have come not to check on tomb security but to steal artifacts. When he looks over the sarcophagus, he is strangled by the mummy.
Meanwhile, Sandra’s dreams are slowly driving her mad. This culminates when she breaks a glass case and rips a hand off a mummified arm, because she thinks she recognizes a ring on its finger. She faints and is delivered to psychiatrist Carey Williams (Greg Wrangler).
The mummy prays to the god Zoth and is restored to human form, just in time for the return of Lord Maxton and the archaeologists. He greets them, introducing himself as Dr. Mohassid, “the protector of the dead.” Meanwhile, Sandra has a nightmare in which she is attacked by Akiru in his mummy form. She calls Carey – whose unique approach to therapy seems to involve a lot of horseback riding, and taking long walks together – and he takes her to a local suq. She wanders off, becomes increasingly frightened and disoriented, gets harassed, faints, and awakens in Dr. Mohassid’s car. Mohassid takes her to her hotel, where they meet Carey.
Sandra goes back to the museum visit and has terrifying visions of a mummified cat returning to life, and her own entombment by jackals. Carey tells her the visions are merely symptoms of her underlying death anxiety and guilt.
Back in the tomb, Mohassid amazes Maxton with his ability to identify artifacts. He secretly causes the lid of a sarcophagus on the head of a researcher. At a cocktail party later, Mohassid accuses Maxton of being a graverobber and asks how Maxton would like it if he, Mohassid, excavated Westminster Abbey. He later apologizes and gives Maxton a cat, which scratches the millionaire’s eyes, causing an infection. Mohassid prays to Zoth for more time visit vengeance on the graverobbers. The voice of Zoth demands that Aziru seek revenge and also “return the girl.” Mohassid visits the hospital and kills Maxton.
Sandra dreams of a snake in her bed. She runs out into a storm, into the waiting arms of Mohassid who places her in his bed. She then dreams the mummy is in bed next to her. When she awakes, she is told that the stars are aligning for the “night of the embrace.” It seems that every 3300 years, the stars align in such a way that if lost loves reunite they can enter paradise together.
While Carey begins to wonder if there is more going on than psychiatry can explain, Mohassid kills the two remaining archaeologists, one with a poisonous snake, the other by embalming. Another stormy night occurs and Mohassid summons Sandra, who tells her it is the night of the embrace. He gives her drugged wine and makes her up to look like Kia. As he carries her into the tomb, his human guise wears off and he becomes the rotting mummy he was in the beginning. He sets about embalming Sandra, but she knocks a tray of acid into his face. As he flails around, a fire starts. Then bullets tear into him as Egyptian officer Captain Mahmoud (Joseph Shiloach) and a policeman arrive with Carey. As Aziru collapses in flames, the humans all rush to escape the cave-in. The Egyptians don’t make it, but Sandra and Carey do. The film ends with the starry sky showing the alignment of the planets.
This is an extraordinarily bad film. All the classical elements of the old mummy movies are here with none of the atmosphere. The fact that every Egyptian character in this film ends up killed seems to me a significant indication that little has changed in the use of Arabs as “cannon fodder” in scripts. And what brilliant linguist came up with these Ancient Egyptian names?
Le Siège De L’Âme (1996)
French Canadian film written and directed by Olivier Asselin. A group oflaimed scientists gather at the turn of the century to discuss the discovery of a buried pyramid containing a mummy with a beating heart. Young Jules (Emmanuel Bilodeau) argues passionately for the existence of the soul. One night, the lights go out, and the mummy disappears, leaving only a sparse trail of the fabric in which she was bound. The scientists and the mysterious “detective” (Remy Girard) set out on a farcical chase with stopovers in bordellos, and a snowballing mass hysteria. Jules, however, encounters Sophie (Lucille Fluet) who seems to have some answers to the mystery. Released in English as The Seat of the Soul
The Mummy (1996)
Pakistan. Urdu language film directed by Iqbal Kashmiri. Starring Nadeem, Atiqa Odho, Mustafa Oureshi and Reema.
Bram Stoker’s The Mummy (1997)
Also released as “Bram Stoker’s Legend of The Mummy,” this film was directed by Jeffrey Obrow and written by Lars Hauglie. It is based on Bram Stoker’s “The Jewel of the Seven Stars.” It stars Corbeck (Louis Gossett, Jr), Margaret Trelawney (Amy Locane), Robert Wyatt (Eric Lutes) Abel Trelawney (Lloyd Bochner), Mrs. Grant (Mary Jo Catlett)
Mummies Alive! (1997)
Syndicated cartoon series. Presley Carnovan (Bill Switzer) is the reincarnation of Prince Rapses, once heir to the throne of ancient Egypt. Rapses was murdered by his father’s trusted advisor, Scarab (Gerald Plunkett), despite the protection of four able Egyptian bodyguards. For his crime, Scarab was entombed alive. In the present day, an unknowing archaeologist opened Scarab’s tomb, freeing him. Scarab desires to become immortal by stealing Rapses ka from Presley’s body. In the first episode, Scarab and his zombielike minions, The Shabti, attacked Presley at the new Rapses Museum exhibition, which brought the boy to the attention of the four bodyguards. Now mummified, the bodyguards sprang to life with the cry, “With the strength of Ra!” They fought off the villains and saved Presley.
With Scarab still on the loose, the mummies became Presley’s sworn protectors. Already powerful, the mummies transformed into body-armored superheroes by means of their Ra-invoking catchphrase. Ja-Kal (Dale Wilson), the mummies’ leader, donned armor patterned after a falcon, gaining the power of flight and a bow that shot flaming arrows. Rath (Scott McNeil) was the group’s inventor, transforming into cobra armor and fighting with a sword that changed into a snake. Armon (Graeme Kingston) was the resident strongman. He was missing an arm, but his body armor gave him a one-ton golden one. The final member was the lone female, Nefer-Tina (Cree Summer), armored like a cat and swinging a mean whip. Nefer-Tina also drove the team’s dragster (designed and built by Rath), the Hot-Ra. Even team mascot Khati (Louoise Vallance) got in on the act, transforming from a small fraidy cat into a larger, more powerful one.
Most syndicated episodes pitted Presley and the mummies against Scarab (who masqueraded as businessman Harris Stone and had his own beetle-inspired body armor), his serpent Heka (Pauline Newstone), incompetent pet Ammut (head of a crocodile, body of a lion, hindquarters of a hippo), and The Shabti. The mummies were amazed by modern life, though they seemed to have mastered it enough to build advanced vehicles like the Hot-Ra, the Nile-Ator Jet Cycles, and the Skycophagus. Those busy mummies also found time to teach Presley the ancient Egyptian martial art of Egyp-Tsu.
Under Wraps (1997)
American made-for-TV film directed by Greg Beeman. Written by Don Rhymer. Three kids, Gilbert (Adam Wylie), Marshall (Mario Yedidia), and Amy (Clara Bryant) accidentally reanimate an ancient mummy (Bill Faggerbakke), and must then save it from the sinister Mr. Kubat (Ken Campbell). A Disney Channel Halloween special.
Tale of the Mummy (1999)
Directed by Russell Mulcahy. Written by Keith Williams and Russell Mulcahy. Also released as Russell Mulcahey’s Tale of the Mummy and as Talos the Mummy.
Talos, a prince of Ancient Egypt, was so evil that he was cursed and entombed for all eternity. In the 1940s, an archaeological expedition headed by Prof. Turkel (Christopher Lee) discovers the tomb of Talos. They release a mysterious vapor that dissolves them but not before Turkel manages to seal the tomb by blowing up himself and what’s left of his party.
Fifty years later his logbook comes into the hands of his granddaughter Sam (Louise Lombard) who follows her grandfathers footsteps and leads an expedition to find out what really happened. They discover the tomb and after some disturbing incidents, head back to London. As a prestigious exhibition on Talos opens in the national museum, London is terrorized by mysterious murders, investigated by Riley, a young police officer (Jason Scott Lee). Talos, it seems, is murdering people to steal the body parts he’s missing. Once he has completed his body, he will gain immortality and begin armageddon. He must do this before five planets align, so Riley and Sam are in a race to stop him.
No actor plays Talos. He is all special effects.
The Mummy (1999)
This film owes as much to Indiana Jones as to the 1932 mummy film it seeks to remake. See the entry in our viewings section.
Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (2000)
Directed by David DeCoteau.
Lust in the Mummy’s Tomb (2000)
American made-for-video film directed by William Hellfire. In this soft porn film, Misty Mundae is on holiday from university at her archaeologist father’s estate. She discovers a secret study in which are the remains of the mummy I-Hop-Shank, recently stolen from the City Museum. Misty begins caressing the ages-dead mummy, and her ardor brings the mummy back to life. This is more than Misty bargained for, and she flees as the aroused mummy lumbers after her. Escaping the undead creature, she returns to the study to discover a voluptuous Egyptian princess, who seduces her.
View this film online at http://www.movieflix.com/ (fee required)
Mummy Raider (2001)
American made-for-video film directed by Brian Paulin. “Somewhere in Berlin” the evil Doctor Humboldt (Esmerelda DeLarocca) schemes to create a Fourth Reich, and for some reason believes she can do this by resurrecting the mummy of King Thotep. She kidnaps archaeologist and occultist Professor Kleve and his beautiful daughter Kristen (Darien Caine). Humboldt attempts to seduce the secret out of Krista, and when this fails she tortures the girl into revealing the secret (it’s an incantation carved on a bracelet Kristen just happens to be wearing). Meanwhile, Kristen’s lover, the heroic leather-clad Misty Mundae secretly enters Humboldt’s hideout and rescues Dr. Kleve. They set out to save Kristen but by the time they shoot their way through Humboldt’s guards it is too late – the mummy has returned to life. Misty manages to destroy the mummy, Humboldt repents her evil ways, and the film ends (happily?) with a ménage-e-trois of the three women.
View this film online at http://www.movieflix.com/ (fee required)
Arthur Conan Doyle’s The ring of Thoth
H. Rider Haggard’s “Smith and the pharoahs” (1912-13) http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/smithphh.htm
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Written and directed by Stephen Sommers. Imhotep takes his mummies to London.
The Scorpion King (2003)
Variety reported in June 2000 that a scriptwriter had been hired to write this prequel to “The Mummy” (1999) and “The Mummy Returns” (2001).
On-Line Essays About Mummy Movies
“Mummies wrapped in celluloid” (Ralph Vaughan)
Egyptologists on Mummy Movies
The influence of Ancient Egypt on cinema (Keith Amery, University College London)
The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Curse: Mummymania for the masses (Carter Lupton, Milwaukee Public Museum)