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Halloween Horror Celebration--Part 4...The Mummy

Updated on August 9, 2010

The Mummy


The fourth in my series of Halloween monster musings is devoted to that bandaged bad guy from the tombs of Egypt...The Mummy, in all his incarnations.


Egyptians used to mummify their exalted dead royalty. Pharaohs and many others of royal blood got a grand send off in ancient Egypt. Most tombs and pyramids were guarded by a "curse", a warning that anyone who violates this place of rest will suffer a horrible fate. Indeed, some of the people who found and opened King Tut's tomb did tragically. This was the inspiration for one of the greatest movie monsters...The Mummy. What if, someone imagined, the Mummy came to life to punish the defiler and to finish up some unfinished business.

Movies About Mummies...

The Mummy first appeared on movie screens in 1932 in the Universal Studios classic "The Mummy" starring Horror film legend Boris Karloff. The story starts 3,700 years ago when Egyptian high priest Im-Ho-Tep was in love with Princess Anck-es-en-Amon. When she died, the bereaved Priest stole the Scroll of Thoth from the foot of the statue of the God Osiris, hoping to raise his love from the dead.Caught in the act, he is mummified alive. But somehow he doesn't die. When British archaeologists unearth the tomb of Ancks-es-en-Amon in 1921, Im-Ho-Tep comes back to life. Unwrapping himself, he takes the identity of Ardath Bey. He meets a woman who is the physical twin of his lost princess and now he must claim her as his own so he can kill her, embalm her and revive her again with the spirit of Anck-es-en-Amon in her body. Egyptologist Professor Muller prevents this. Im-Ho-Tep is punished by the Cat God Bast and reduced to ashes.

The next time we see the Mummy is in "The Mummy's Hand" (1940) but its a different mummy this time. Now the Mummy is Prince Kharis who was similarly buried for an illicit affair with the Princess Ananka and for using a scroll to try to revive her. (I guess that happened a lot in a ancient Egypt.) He is made immortal by the God Amon-Ra to eternally guard his love. Like his predecessor, the Mummy awakens after the tomb of his princess is violated and he stalks into action. This version of the mummy doesn't unwrap, being more monster than man (Since his tongues was cut out he can't even speak.) described as "an uncontrollable monster. A souless demon with a desire to kill!" The lumbering Kharis is ultimately burned up. But like any good monster, Kharis won't stay down, and he returns again in "The Mummy's Tomb" (1942) this time played by another horror film icon Lon Chaney Jr.

Kharis the Mummy would return twice more, in "The Mummy's Ghost" (1944) and "the Mummy's Curse" (1945), both times played by Chaney. (Chaney had the honor of being the only person to have played the Mummy, the Wolfman, Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster.) British horror legend Christopher Lee would take on the role of Kharis the Mummy in a remake of "the Mummy's Hand" titled "The Mummy" (1959).

A variation on Kharis, called Klaris, appeared in the 1955 horror parody "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy". Since Bud Abbot and Lou Costello had already met Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman, it was inevitable they'd have to give the Mummy the same treatment.

The Mummy appeared in the cute kiddie film, "The Monster Squad" in 1987.

A more recent version of the Mummy featured in a trilogy of films starring Brandon Fraser. "The Mummy" (1999) and "the Mummy Returns" (2001) featured Arnold Vosloo as an alternate version of Imhotep. The third in the Trilogy, "The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" came out in 2008 but with an altogether different Mummy.

Well, thats all for now. More monster musings to come on my next hub.


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