The first mummy film, The Mummy of King Ramses, debuted in 1909, but it was King Tut mania that made mummy movies multiply in the 1930 and 40s. The best-known movies of the era are Boris Karloff’s The Mummy
and the Three Stooges’ parody We want our Mummy.
In 1955, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy sparked another series of mummy movies.
(I digress to mention one of the least famous mummy movies ever: The Mummy’s Shroud, from 1967. The trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuQLjwv-acI&feature=related features a hilarious creepy crone. Skip ahead to 1:51 and 2:06.)
As far as I can tell, the first female mummy in a leading role appeared in 1971’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Not exactly a feminist triumph, however. This mummy was buried in a sequined bikini top and, oddly, underwent mummification without suffering a trace of desiccation. The beautiful young woman she possesses can be heard to intone the words “I have no mind, no will.” Nice subtle subtext, there, guys.
The next mini-revival came in 1999, with The Mummy,
a loose remake of the Boris Karloff film. (Yes, there were sequels, but the less said about them the better). Personally, I’m very fond of this movie. Mainly that’s because it provided the phrase that my husband and I use to signal that the litter box needs attention: “There’s something underneath that sand … and it’s evil.”
Here ends my movie mummy summary. This is the point at which Teresa would muse, “Why do mummies continue to be popular? What is it about the mummy mythos that taps into the human psyche?” When it comes to psychology, I’m about as useful as Dr. Temperance Brennan,
so I’m not going to attempt an answer. io9.com offers some counter-commentary, and as always, DOTW would love to hear your thoughts.
Without getting all psychological, I can tell you why I like mummies. Mummies are history and fantasy, mystery and fact. The process of studying mummies is an homage to human inquiry and ingenuity. The results of that study reveal a culture that is, to me, untouchably foreign. Where study stops, imagination takes over, in a varied body of mummy fiction. Mummies are human past and human potential, all wrapped up in one neat little bundle. And soaked in pissasphalt.