Looks like it’s time to check out the original Mummy film! This one came out almost a century ago so you shouldn’t expect the effects to look quite as good as Tron’s. That being said, a film can still manage to be pretty good without effects as long as the writing is strong. That’s what helped a lot of the previous retro installments. Alas, it could not last. This film is nowhere near as good as the remake although I applaud the supernatural elements that made things pretty intriguing at points. Let’s see where the film messed up.
The plot involves an Archeologist and his partner as they are pretty sad. Their expedition into the desert turned out to be a waste of time and they are getting ready to rejoin civilization so that they can be mocked for their efforts. At that moment, a suspicious character tells them of a hidden tomb that is nearby and his minions uncover it for the heroes. The courageous fellows quickly inform the press and send their findings to the museum. This has all been too easy…why would this person help them? It makes more sense when you watch the flashback before this scene as the Mummy is uncovered because a man opened the legendary chest that had a curse inside of it. (Don’t worry, the curse isn’t random, we find out who placed it there towards the end of the film) The Mummy awakens and one of the guys goes insane with laughter as his mind breaks at the mere sight of the Mummy. In the present, The Mummy needs the ancient manuscript for his devious plans and he also wants to revive his partner. Time for the heroes to do something about it!
The plot sounds rather deep and convoluted thanks to how I wrote it, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. You are aware of the Mummy and the sinister developments for a good portion of the film. The heroes are just unsure of what they can really do about it, which results in a lot of tense scenes. None of the characters are really likable though, but more on that later. The film was doing all right in these moments, but let’s look at one of the big pitfalls that the film threw itself into.
First up…Animal Violence! I expect animal violence when I watch something like Sucker Punch or Toriko, but I don’t expect it from one of the most famous horror films of last generation. The scene comes out of nowhere, which is pretty sad. The main heroine randomly admits that she has a dog and takes him to the villain’s base. Seeking to impress her with his hypnosis, the Mummy tells his slave to take the dog away…then the slave murders the dog. Why would he do such a thing and why would the Mummy allow it? The whole point is that he is tricking the heroine and that shouldn’t help matters. Unfortunately, she is rather weak willed and her strength of character is not enough to even remember how her dog died. It was a rather depressing moment in an uninteresting film and I quickly slashed a few points off the score. (Although, even without the animal violence this film was destined to fall within this range. Animal Violence or not…this was not going to crack a 5)
I don’t really comment on the acting so I won’t get into how terribly awkward it was for the film. I’ll just point to how they wrecked the characters through the drama scenes. A lot of scenes just have the characters staring at each other or making terrible decisions that lead to their untimely demise. With that set up…it’s time to look at the characters!
The main character is Frank. He’s better than his predecessor in the opening who goes insane just by looking at the Mummy, but he’s not much better. (I still can’t get over that though. Do people honestly think that someone would go crazy just by sneaking a glance at a dead guy? That was one of the biggest moments of plot hax that I’ve seen since Colonel actually held his own against Forte in the Program of Light and Dark) Frank is the kind of guy who believes in (fake) love at first sight and he really pushes the point when he meets Helen. She keeps on telling him that she is not interested (For about 5 minutes anyway) but he won’t take no for an answer and she quickly relents. After that, he doesn’t really care about anything except helping her and he can’t do a good job of that either. He knows that the Mummy is playing her like a fiddle, but he still decides to just go to sleep on the couch. It should be noted that his partner tried to help by giving Frank an amulet that stops the Pharaoh’s abilities from working, but Frank decides to hang it on the doorknob as a little keychain. You may admire his courageousness, but you’ll probably just face palm as the Mummy quickly uses the Force Choke to take Frank down for the count. A rather embarrassing end and no amount of main character hax that occurs in the film can take that moment away from us. It was pretty inexcusable.
I can’t say that Helen is much better. Again, she tried to say no to Frank, but then she just agreed that the feelings were mutual. They evidently were not at first so she changed her mind way too quickly. Her mind is also very frail since the Mummy is able to quickly convince her that she must go with him. She always enters a trance and he has complete control over her. She tries to fight it once in a while, but with terrible results. Forgetting about her dog was also pretty inexcusable and she should have been able to fight the mind control. This is definitely a strong example for how you do not write a main heroine. It was a rather poor showing.
There were two old men who tried to help out as well, but they couldn’t get the job done. One of them had the simple task of burning a few papers in the fireplace, but the Force Choke surprises him so much that he drops the papers and starts to backpedal until he bites the big one. (Which is when the slave breaks in through the unlocked door and steals the papers) The other guy just gives advice like “Let Helen go to Imhotep so we can find out where his hideout is” before taping an untimely nap. These guys loves to beat around the bush as seen with their interrogation of the Mummy, but they know that they are outmatched. They actually admit it in front of the Mummy, which is pretty sad.
The actual Mummy isn’t great either. We get a sob story for him about how he did all of this for romance and stuff. Unfortunately, deciding to reincarnate yourself is against the law so he’s quickly destroyed….thereby speeding up the reincarnation. I guess they didn’t have any mages back then to counter the Mummy’s spell. After that, he evidently decided to wait years and years for some archaeologists to come and discover the tomb instead of just going inside of it himself. He would have been able to have gotten the scroll without any objections that way and then he could have searched for his reincarnated partner. Alas, he decided to do things the hard way. He has a strong amount of telepathy and possibly some superhuman strength so I guess it’s okay for him to be confident. Unfortunately, he underestimated the humans or overestimated his Force Choke when push came to shove.
The flashbacks and the ending were intriguing, but they just threw in supernatural elements without any true meaning. I applaud the effort as we actually get a “god” at the end who decides to help out, but just barely. The Mummy still would have gotten away for it if not for a few missteps. I mean, the Mummy Did basically laugh at Isis’ rules by coming back to life so you would expect a little more urgency.
Overall, This was definitely not one of the better retro films. I definitely preferred the newer Mummy film. It was more action packed and while it wasn’t downright amazing, it was a lot more fun. The Mummy just isn’t a fun or engaging villain and his telepathy is the only thing that actually made him a threat. A lot of scenes didn’t seem to have really been thought through either. (The heroes going after the Mummy after the villain had a super long head start and still making it in time.) Strictly speaking from Frank’s perspective, the ending felt like a parody. He’s the big hero, but he never got to be useful from start to finish. I would sooner recommend watching the remake or checking out Speed Racer than this film. This film was lacking in positives while still containing a lot of negatives.