Tag Archives: The Mummy (1932)

Countdown to Halloween: The Mummy

Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy Image:Public Domain
Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy
Image:Public Domain

Inspiration for many mummy-themed movies is drawn from a Bram Stoker book called Jewel of the Seven Stars. Unlike Dracula which has been given both literary and cinematic status, this 1903 book is not as widely known but influenced the mummy franchise we generally know today. The story is about a dead Egyptian queen named Tera who during her life amassed considerable dark powers. A mummy hand with seven fingers, adorned with a ruby ring with seven points that look like stars is found with her in the tomb. Abel Trelawny, a noted Egyptologist, becomes obsessed with the idea of resurrecting her. His daughter, Margaret, born not  long after the tomb’s discovery, bears a resemblance to the dead queen and later seems to either be connected to her or controlled by her.

The ceremony to resurrect Tera is performed and in the original ending appears to succeed but at great cost to those who participated. However the ending was quite shocking and upset quite a lot of people (it was not a happy ending except for Queen Tera). The result was that in 1912 Stoker wrote a second ending where the ceremony failed and the Margaret and the story’s narrator (Malcolm Ross) married. The essential story of an ancient Egyptian mummy being resurrected via dark forces though would inspire other tales and most notably the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff. In the movie, Imhotep was caught attempting to resurrect his dead love, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon, and sentenced to be mummified alive. He comes alive when an archaeological team finds his mummy and disappears returning 10 years later as Ardeth Bay to help another excavation team find Ankh-es-en-amon’s tomb. He encounters a young woman named Helen Grosvenor (played by Zita Johann)who likes like Ankh-es-en-amon. He seeks to bring back his former love by trying to show she is the reincarnation and later in a ceremony where Helen will be killed.

The movie was a success but no direct sequels were ever made. Hammer made a series of mummy movies based on the same story. The Mummy (1999)starring Brendan Fraser was billed as a remake but really re-imagined (like the more recent version of Battlestar Galactica). Several attempted mummy movies based on the Stoker novel are mostly unremarkable except for the 1971 Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Like the original ending of the Stoker novel, most are dead at the end and the ambiguous ending leaves you guessing whether Tera or Margaret survived (albeit not in the way Tera would have hoped for if it was her.) To begin our countdown to Halloween, here is a clip from the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff.

And here is the trailer for the 1999 re-imagined version: