Greatest Halloween Movies #18 The Mummy

“It’s just a book. No harm every came from reading a book”

No I don’t mean the old version where the mummy looks like he’s been given too much Thorazine and has severe arthritis….no I’m talking about the more action packed that can best be summed up by its own words, “Rescue the damsel in distress, kill the bad guy, save the world.”

It makes it into the horror genre for a few reasons. First and foremost is that it is a remake of one of those classic horror films I find too corny to actually put on this list. Second those flesh eating scarabs are creepy as all hell…bugs that crawl under your skin and eat you from the inside out. You have the more traditional mummies working as henchmen. And then there is of course the Mummy, Imhotep, who goes through various states of gore and decay (the creepiest moment is probably when he chews on one of the scarabs that is crawling through the hole in his face, send chills up my spine).

But this movie’s virtues aren’t really in its horror aspects; it’s more in its adventure qualities. There is a certain Raiders of the Lost Ark quality to the adventure. Granted there is a far heavier aspect of fantasy and magic, but it still has the action/adventure feel that made the first Indie film so enjoyable (a quality that was pretty much lacking from all the sequels). You have a hero with wonderfully sardonic lines that come in at just the right times, a strong-willed heroine who does as much to save herself as the hero does to save her, and a bumbling sidekick who offers just the right amount of insanity. Tombs, treasure, treachery. You can see why I draw the parallels. I had been hoping that this was going to spark a wave of similar films as the genre has been hideously under used….didn’t get that…I got a decade of movies about zombies and increasingly wimpy vampires.

And while not the most intellectual film of all time, it does make some observations that I find remarkably astute. Namely in the form of foreign relations. There is a scene near the beginning of the film, where the boat all the characters are on is being invaded. Jonathan, the British brother of our heroine, looks in distain at a group of Americans who are firing randomly at the invaders and comments, “Americans,” a line that encapsulates the European view that Americans are just a bunch of cowboys (I never understood how that’s an insult). But the minute the gun wielding Americans save Jonathan from an attacker his opinion is “I say, bloody good show chaps.” Very typical European view of the last century that America is a terrible country…until they need us.

As to my running theme of fear of death, and how overcoming it is the best option, you have only to look at the villain. Imhotep is a man so afraid of death that he is willing to betray and murder friends and cause worldwide devastation just to escape death. (Yeah you could argue it was for love, but as we learned in the sequel she doesn’t really love him, so really it’s just a fear of death.  You could also point out that when he no longer has his love he kills himself in the second film, but this is more indicative of a fear to live than of a lack  of fear of death).

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Filed under Death, Fear, Halloween, Movies

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