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The Mummy (1932): Classic Monster Collection

Capitalizing on the success of James Whale's 1931 Frankenstein, producer Carl Laemmle immediately got Boris Karloff back in the chair of Universal makeup-legend Jack Piece for his next thriller, The Mummy, wherein Imhotep (Karloff), a renegade Egyptian priest, is accidentally raised from the dead by an English archeological team. Determined to be reunited with his long-lost love, Imhotep — posing as modern-day Egyptian Ardath Bey — discovers her spirit reincarnated as Englishwoman Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), who he then pursues with his supernatural powers. Legendary German cinematographer Karl Freund was recruited by Laemmle to helm The Mummy, and while his expressionist touches are compelling, the script is virtually free of creepy or shocking stuff, concentrating almost exclusively on the semi-possessed Helen, who finds herself inexplicably torn between the undead shaman and a very-much-alive suitor (and those of you who have not seen this film may be surprised to discover that Karloff only appears in his full "mummy" garb in the first scene, and even then only from the chest up). The Mummy is a nice item for fans of Karloff or the classic horror genre, but it shouldn't be the first choice for a Halloween party (in fact, the 1999 remake is a far more satisfying caper). However, as part of their "Classic Monster Collection," Universal has included a good deal of value-added content on the disc, including the 30-minute documentary "Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed", a commentary track with film historian Paul M. Jensen, publicity materials and stills from the film, a trailer, production notes, and textual supplements on the cast and crew. Good transfer from an attractive source print, Dolby 1.0 (which sounds a bit muffled), keep-case.
—JJB



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