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In 1921 a field expedition in Egypt discovers the mummy of ancient Egyptian prince Im-Ho-Tep, who was condemned and buried alive for sacrilege. Also found in the tomb is the Scroll of Thoth, which can bring the dead back to life. One night a young member of the expedition reads the Scroll out loud, and then goes insane, realizing that he has brought Im-Ho-Tep back to life. Ten years later, disguised as a modern Egyptian, the mummy attempts to reunite with his lost love, an ancient princess who has been reincarnated into a beautiful young woman.Written by
Jeremy Lunt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Screenwriter John L. Balderston is credited with the Egyptian mummy theme for the film. At its earliest stages the film was simply envisaged as a horror vehicle for Boris Karloff with no connection to Egypt at all. Balderston was a history enthusiast and had covered the opening of Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb as a foreign correspondent. His experiences in Egypt and love of ancient history influenced him to change the setting and plot of the film to feature an Egyptian mummy. See more »
According to the newspaper article detailing the findings, the man who helped them to find the site is named "Ardath Bey." (See also trivia, this is an anagram of "Death by Ra.") But many other sources, including the subtitles/captions on home video releases, use the spelling "Ardeth Bay." See more »
Put it back. Bury it where you found it. You have read the curse. You dare defy it?
Sir Joseph Whemple:
In the interest of science, even if I believed in the curse, I'd go on with my work for the museum. Come back with me, and we'll examine this great find together.
I cannot condone an act of sacrilege with my presence.
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Given enough time and interest, I'm sure that I would have gotten around to the original Universal version of "The Mummy", but the hideous (in every respect) 1999 remake is the straw that broke the camel's back. The second I happened to see the original (complete with poster art) on the shelves of my local Wal-Mart, there were no second thoughts. It HAD to be better than that low-grade (though high budget)"Raiders of the Lost Ark" ripoff I spent two hours suffering through. Thankfully, my impulse proved to be on the money.
I really look at this film as Karloff's first piece of proof that there was more to his talent than Frankenstein's monster. Imhotep (aka Ardeth Bay) couldn't be more different than that sweet-natured brute. Though both are pathetic in their own way and lonely, Imhotep is more intelligent and a great deal more malicious by far. He's willing to do anything, kill anyone, and break any taboo to be reunited with his lost love. Karloff never has to raise his voice to convey menace; just a hardening of the eyes or a steely tone in that oh-so-distinct voice of his is enough to make you a little uneasy.
An overlooked aspect of this film is that, in a way, it's something of a tragedy. Imhotep has literally sacrificed everything he ever had just to be by the side of his beloved princess. So focused on this goal is he that he doesn't realize the great harm he is doing to all those around him, including to his beloved (who, in a thankful break with movie tradition at the time, proves to be the undoing of the immortal monster). I feel more of a sense of relief at film's end than triumph. Maybe now Imhotep can rest in peace.
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