on 18 May 2003
The film itself is well presented on this DVD. Although it is of course in black and white, and showing some signs of ageing on the print - this is to be expected on a film that is over 70 years old. This however does not detract from the viewing pleasure of the film.
The film is the classic of its genre (i.e. the mummy films) and has spawned endless re-makes. Although not for the horror movie fan who enjoys gore and terror from a film, it is a great film for anyone who enjoys classic movies, and the more subtle horror films.
The DVD includes some decent extras. A commentry track by film historian Paul M. Jensen provides a highly detailed look into the film making techniques used by the film makers.
There is also a documentary called Mummy Dearest that provides some interesting background detail about the film, and why it was made. It also includes clips from the many sequels produced to The Mummy and some rare stills from deleted scenes.
Finally there is a rather good trailer included.
All in all, a great vehicle for a true classic film.
on 4 April 2003
I'm not entirely sure why, but much as I enjoy all of the Universal horror classics, for me "The Mummy" is just far and away the best, and a good part of that opinion *may* be down to Boris Karloff's superbly understated performance.
Having made the first Frankenstein film only the year before (1931) - at which time he appeared halfway down the cast list simply as "?" - by the time he came to make "The Mummy" he had been promoted to the spot ABOVE the title, as "Karloff the Uncanny". (This would have been less memorable had it not been for the fact that Karloff was actually an Englishman, and his real name was William Pratt. A number of genuine emigres from Eastern Europe were working in Hollywood at this time, and it was quite usual for them to be credited without any forename.)
As to the film itself, it is important to remember that it was made at a time when TV didn't exist, and a car chase at 60 mph was hot stuff. Though the pace may seem slow by today's standards, in its time it was a magnificent example of mounting suspense. Indeed, considering that it has a running time of only an hour and ten minutes, it actually contains a lot more plot development and characterisation than the average one hour TV programme.
I'm not going to go over the plot here, previous reviewers have already done that justice. I would, however, congratulate Universal on the excellent package of "bonus" material which makes the DVD so attractive even if you already have the film on tape.
There is the almost obligatory sets of stills and posters, plus the original trailer. What is quite unusual, and says a great deal for Universal's commitment to value, is the specially made background feature "Mummy Dearest" (a title borrowed from a rather bitter biography of Joan Crawford by her daughter, if I remember correctly), and the full length "Feature Commentary" by film historian Paul M. Jensen.
"Mummy Dearest" is full of interesting insights, including a brief resume of the discovery of King Tutenkhamun's tomb, in Egypt, which created a general fascination with ancient Egypt in both Europe and the USA, and which paved the way for this film.
It certainly explains how the original storyline, about a three hundred year old Italian mystic, Cagliostro, ended up as film about a 3,700 year old Egyptian priest called Imhotep.
Unlike Tom Weaver's rather high speed commentary on "The Wolf Man", Paul Jensen's contribution is a little more measured - but just as interesting in it's own way.
Jensen is equally interested in both the background to the film - actors' previous and subsequent work, etc. - and the actual film making process. This can seem a little irritating at first, as he seems to be simply describing what you can plainly see for yourself. But after a very little time we find that Jensen is actually highlighting the film maker's technique to show why the camera was placed 'here' rather than 'there', and how, even in 1932, Karloff and the film's director, Karl Freund, were already masters of the "less is more" technique.
So, both for the film and for the excellent package of "extras", this is definitely a worthy addition to any classic horror film fan's collection.
The monsters unleashed by Universal Pictures across the screens of America in the 1930s left an indelible impression on the American psyche that will never be forgotten, and The Mummy stands among the most memorable of all those classic monster movies. Boris Karloff simply is The Mummy, defining the role for all generations to come. Don't think he's just sleepwalking around in bandages, either; no, while he may be the prototypical mummy, he is not the hunk of animated flesh that his successors all seemed to turn into. Karloff in fact gives an impressive dramatic performance in this role. The action begins in 1922, when British Egyptologists Dr. Muller (Edward Van Sloan) and Dr. Whemple (Arthur Byron) make a potentially incredible discovery underneath the sands of Egypt. They soon identify a mummy they have recovered intact as Imhotep, but they know this is no ordinary mummy because he was not embalmed, there is evidence of his having struggled within his all-encompassing bandages, and the blessings designed to protect his voyage to the afterlife were removed before he was buried. Along with Imhotep the explorers find an intriguing box, one that carries a dire message for those who would open it. While Dr. Muller tries to convince Dr. Whemple to heed the curse and leave the box unopened, their younger associate gives in to his temptation, discovers a scroll inside, and reads from it. Hereby is Imhotep brought back to life, and the mummy shuffles off into the desert.
There is no news of Imhotep for years, and Dr. Whemple returns home vowing never to return or to speak of what he knows. Ten years later, though, his son (with a little help from a mysterious Egyptian named Ardath Bey) makes a fabulous find of his own underneath the sands, the grave and mummy of the Egyptian princess Anckesen-Amon, and so the elder Egyptologist returns to Egypt. As luck would have it, the young Dr. Whemple falls in love with Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann) a half-Egyptian girl who turns out to have a strong connection to the newly discovered mummified princess who, it turns out, just so happens to have been the object of Imhotep's love and sacrifice. The mummy, completely human in appearance now, works to raise his love from the dead with the aid of the Scroll of Thoth, and it is up to young Dr. Whemple and Dr. Muller to safeguard Helen from a fate seemingly ordained millennia ago.
The most interesting thing about this movie is the fact that the mummy only appears in the traditional, caricatured apparel of rotting old bandages at the very beginning, after which point he takes the form of a man – an eccentric one with captivatingly powerful eyes and supernatural powers, but a man nonetheless. After a spooky beginning, the movie eventually takes a detour into romance and melodrama and never fully recovers its steam. While Karloff could appear quite menacing and malevolent, he is hardly the stuff nightmares are made of. I think the story is a little weak in the last stages, but this is still a five-star film based on its fame, its immense influence on the genre, and its overall quality; for a film from 1932, this print is simply amazing in both its audio and visual quality. And, though I need not say this again, Boris Karloff gives a subtle, captivating performance as Imhotep.
on 16 July 2009
This new edition of the mummy is quite an improvement on the single disc version.It has all the extras ,commentary ,documentary, archives and trailer,plus a featurette on the legacy of the mummy(8mins),documentary on make-up artist jack pierce(25mins)and the universal horror documentary narrated by kenneth branagh(95mins)it also states that the soundtrack has been remastered to be clearer than ever.To get all that under £6 is brilliant.for reviews of the movie go to the single disc editions.
Back in the 1980s I replaced most of my collection of 8mm movies with VHS and I have been going through a same process of upgrading to DVD for the last few years. This has given me the excuse to revisit many films that I have not seen for some time. Both of these films are classic Universal Studios horror movies however I am a little mystified as to why they have been put together as a two film set.
The Mummy 1932
During a 1921 archaeological dig the expedition discovers a sarcophagus in an unmarked tomb which contains the mummy of Im-Ho-Tep, played by Boris Karloff, a priest who was buried alive 3,700 years ago as a punishment for trying to bring a priestess he loved back from the dead. Returned to life, the mummy goes in search of his former love, echoes of who he believes is re-incarnate in expedition member Zita Johann.
An atmospheric and eerie film with Karloff giving a masterful performance.
This is a good transfer with a short documentary feature and a commentary from Paul Jensen. An absolute must for the horror film collector.
on 8 April 2002
One could easily criticize this film for not standing up to today's products. Even so, I think 'The Mummy' redeems itself considerably by its convincing setting and plot and sincere approach to horror. At any rate, it is much better than Browning's "Dracula" and Whales' "Frankenstein" in atmosphere and visuals.
It is refreshing to have a monster appear on stage that, aside from satisfying his romantic or sexual interests, doesn't feel the incessant need to conquer/destroy the world. The lack of extravagant special effects and smart-alecky acrobatics that mars today's versions of 'The Mummy' also helps it achieve a far more realistic stance that resolves around characters, and not about superficial grandeur.
Imhotep's return to life is dramatic in its stillness, and we see the greatness of Karloff's acting in his silent movement; much the same greatness Christopher Lee showed in his silent portrayal of Imhotep decades later. The occasional sinister close-up of Imhotep's face is magnificent, revealing the shadowy schemes that underlie his calm facade.
This is a horror movie that is set in a small, intimate circle, and is genuinely character-driven. It's made for an audience that can appreciate the thrills that the film subtly inspires in the mind. Freund's "The Mummy" is everything what the dreadful remakes of the late 90's (and the 4 others that are still to follow) are not. If you like B&W movies, you know what to expect. If you don't, steer clear of this film.
on 7 March 2014
I have this movie on dvd and didn't realise how ropey the sound quality was on dvd until I played this Blu-ray version - no more frying bacon in the background.
on 20 December 2015
Brilliant, creepy performance from Karloff as Imhotep, a 3700 year old Egyptian mummy accidentally brought back to life by an over enthusiastic archaeologist. He is determined to find the tomb of his lover from ancient times Ank su Namun.
The film relies more on a subtle scary atmosphere than overt horror, and this works well.
on 20 August 2012
Great to see these classic horror films finally coming to blu ray.........not sure they will be much better than the dvd releases and I still love the big box set with the busts and will stick to that for now. And that is why I am writing this. The quality of the Universal horror series is for me unsurpassed. No man can have more admiration for these films than me. And being of a certain age the memories of staying up to watch them in a BBC2 double bill late at night will always hold a soft spot in my heart. BUT why Universal not use the format/re release to include some/all of the sequels??? This is for me an issue across all the releases and especially the blu ray box set. Tomb, Shroud and Hand would have made this a must have , the same applies to the others Dracula, Wolf Man, Creature etc and especially to the Box Set. Anyone else of this opinion? It would have been great to see these along with say the Creaure and Invisible Man follow ups finally out.......There was more, Spanish Dracula etc on the big Legacy Box Set!!!!!!!!
on 5 May 2003
This is the original 1932 verison of the Mummy, with Boris Karloff - a true genre setter, the Nosferatu of the Mummy stories. Although it is not particularly scary by today's standards, it is fascinating to watch.
The film itself is shown in 1.33:1 full frame and is obviously in black and white. The DVD version is a very good transfer with only some slight signs of ageing on the visual and sound tracks - better than many more recent films.
The DVD includes a feature commentry by Paul Jensen, a film historian. This is very detailed, and is certainly interesting to listen to.
There is a trailer - this is of the usual over hyped 1930s horror movie style.
A stills and poster gallery is included
Finally, there is a documentary included called Mummy Dearest. This talks about the background to the film, and its rash of sequels - including some brilliant clips from these films, as well as some rare stills of scenes cut from 'The Mummy' itself.
For fans of the classic horror genre this is a must have film.