Have you seen the new Mummy movie? If not, don’t bother. You’ve escaped the Mummy’s Curse. Are you familiar with the Mummy’s Curse? Don’t open that tomb, or Great Evil will befall you. That’s what seemed to happen to the archaeological party that dug up Tutankhamun’s tomb. Then there’s the cinematic version. Movies about mummies carry a two-fold curse: A. Shame on the studios that make them and B. Brain cell damage on the people who watch them.
Only two Mummy movies have escaped this curse: The Mummy (1932) starring Frankenstein actor Boris Karloff who underwent eight-hour makeup sessions that included baking and The Mummy (1959) starring British actor Christopher Lee. These movies had credible plots. They were well-cast, well-acted, and well-produced. All other mummy movies have fallen to the curse.
Titles are enough to make the point. Here are some samples: The Mummy’s Hand, The Mummy’s Ghost, The Mummy’s Tomb, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Dawn of the Mummy, Bubba Ho-Tep (No, that isn’t a joke), Wrestling Women Meet the Aztec Mummy, The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, and The Mummy’s Kiss . How about two more curse-bearers: We Want Our Mummy with the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. See what I mean?
The Mummy movies ground out by Universal Studios during the 1940’s are as low in creativity as they are in budget. Typically, the Mummy is a zombie-like killing machine that drags one foot and strangles with his left hand. Victims of this Mummy usually have to stand in place for several minutes, waiting for him to make his laborious way across the room to put the choke on them. In the same time span, they could calmly walk to their cars and drive away. These movies are stupefying, and anyone who dares watch invites part B of the Curse.
(The Speed-Challenged Mummy of the 1940’s: Hiow lng did she have to stand there, waiting for him to reach her?)
Now Universal has tried to break the cycle with a gender change. Were the makers of this movie thinking of what Kipling wrote about the female of the species being more deadly than the male? Probably not. This Mummy is a former Egyptian princess named Ahmanet. The princess seems to have had two major faults. One was a Macbeth-type, power grab by slashing everyone in her way with a special knife – until she was reigned in and buried alive. Live burial is standard Mummy origin fare; the new movie submerges the sarcophagus in a pool of mercury. The other flaw is an apparent weakness for intricate facial tattoos (perhaps a worse flaw than the first).
(When a movie monster meets Abbott and Costello, he knows it’s the end of the line. Ironically, this intended comedy couldn’t match the unintentional humor of the supposedly serious Mummy films.)
Naturally, modern discoverers of Ahmanet’s tomb haul her up and out, unleashing a horrific torrent of special effects on an unsuspecting world. (This is one of the movie’s many insanities. Why would people who wanted this particular princess to stay buried forever put her in a sarcophagus-shaped tomb the size of the Empire State Building? Aren’t people going to be interested in that? Why not make it a small box labeled “Egyptian Poop Samples” ?)
Tom Cruise is given a chance to die early and perhaps go make a good movie. But instead he comes back to life and rejoins the misguided action. Later he adds to the absurdity by merging himself with the Egyptian god who originally empowered Ahmanet. And just when you think it can’t get any zanier, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde show up. Maybe as a supporting monster in case the title monster doesn’t cut it? (too bad Abbott and Costello weren’t available). The Rotten Tomatoes rating on this release is 15%. Need more be said?
So the Mummy’s Curse continues. Perhaps this latest cinematic debacle will serve as a warning to future movie makers. The next time that tomb appears, rebury it!
(Equality: The Glass Ceiling is finally broken in Mummy movies, proving that a female mummy can be just as brain-deadening to watch as the traditional male version)