It’s time to look at an old Mummy film from the old days. This one doesn’t feature the actual Mummy for quite a while, but lets try to look past that part. It’s not all that bad of a film to be honest. It was actually fairly entertaining and didn’t really fall into any of the holes that you would expect it to. It does suffer from parts of the film feeling a little dragged out, but all in all this may be one of the more solid Mummy titles. Who’d have thought that would happen right?
The film starts off with a rather painful beginning admittedly. An old man is getting ready to pass the torch as he is ready to die now. He gives an amulet to another guy and explains all of the various things he has to do to complete the process. You do not need to know about any of this stuff since it doesn’t really make a difference so lets fast forward to our two main characters.
Abbott and Costello Steve and Babe are having some trouble. See, they found an ancient artifact worth millions which proves that a temple is nearby. Unfortunately a jealous skeptic smashed their statue so now they have no proof of it. Still, they need the money or they may as well kiss their careers goodbye. Fortunately they find a magician who is also down on his luck (To their credit they think he is rich) and convince him to fund their expedition. Now all they need to do is find some valuable stuff, but this may be tougher than it seems as the Mummy’s agent of evil is ready to stop them in their tracks!
A film is only as good as its main characters of course so naturally you’re gonna be hoping that Steve and Babe have got what it takes to pull off the story here. Fortunately they do. Steve is a pretty serious character and knows when he’s being played. While he probably should have been more careful with his rare artifact in the first scene, at least he gives the corrupt “expert” a glare as he walks away. He has a hard time keeping his team in check, but he keeps his wits about him throughout. Meanwhile Babe tends to get uptight a little more often. He isn’t quite as exaggerated in how scared he is compared to other comedy leads and has a good balance. Even when being held at gun point he manages to warn his attacker that things are going to be messy. These two may not be the brightest bulbs in the bunch, but as a result you can certainly say that they fear nothing.
Meanwhile we have another tough main heroine in this film. When Marta hears that the leads have tricked her father she storms the base with her gun. At first you may think that it isn’t loaded or something like that, but this isn’t the case. She fires off quite a few rounds to show the main characters that she means business and it also a really good shot to boot. That makes her a really dangerous fighter and also a great character. Unfortunately Steve stops her before she can defeat the heroes. Marta is still a reasonable character so once she learns that they aren’t villains she is on board with the plan.
On the opposite side of things we have the actual Mummy. Unfortunately this is the worst incarnation of the character that I have seen. He is treated as a minion here by the actual main villain, the middle aged guy from the intro. The Mummy is continually insulted by this guy and mocked to no end. Surprisingly the usually deadly Mummy just sits back and takes it since he can’t do much about it. If he makes a wrong move then he’ll be destroyed. Still, this is a horror film. I’m sure if he quickly tried to grab his “master” the guy would panic in fear and that would be the end of that. Even if the Mummy does man up a bit by the end, it’s too late to take him seriously.
Usually the best parts of these films are supposed to be when the monster/antagonist shows up and we get some nice fight scenes. We do get a bit of that as the Mummy is too strong for bullets, but the best parts are likely all from the intro scenes like when the two main characters get into a classic bar brawl. Even Marta’s father gets in on the action which is pretty neat. He may be old, but the guy certainly hasn’t forgotten how to swing his little umbrella/cane around. Considering that the villains were being so openly aggressive though they probably should have just shot the main characters and been done with the whole thing. I get the feeling that the locals wouldn’t have made a fuss about that.
As expected of a retro film like this one the writing is pretty good. Even if the villains don’t really contribute much, Steve and Babe make the rest of the cast around them better simply by appearing. The characters are pretty charismatic and the pacing is also pretty tight so there is a lot of nonstop excitement. At its core the movie is just pretty fun. There’s not a whole lot of original concepts here so you may be hard pressed to find good reasons to recommend this film in particular to someone, but a good counter point is that it doesn’t really do anything wrong either. (Aside from its treatment of the actual Mummy of course) It’s a film that you can watch anytime.
Overall, I’m glad that this film managed to hold up pretty well. If you haven’t seen the old Mummy films before then this is a good place to start. Mainly because then it’ll be even easier to ignore the Mummy. Either way, we’ll see if the other Mummy films can beat this one. Historically they don’t tend to be very great, but the actual creature does have a lot of potential. So long as they give him a little more credibility in the next film I think he’ll do just fine and that should help the movie.