31 Horrifying Days- Day 3: The Mummy (1932)

 

 

Archaeology is a good field to get into, if you’re waiting for something weird to happen to you (it’s right up there with “hacker” and “journalist”) just ask Indy, Lara Croft and Wonder Woman villain Cheetah. They are surrounded by ancient artifacts, steeped in tradition, their creation often based in superstition and faith at a time when more of the world was unknown. And we crave that, even with information a couple keystrokes away; humans still want to think there is more, that there’s mystery to be found in the past and something bigger and often more magical than textbooks imply.

There’s no exception for these adventurers. Dr Mueller (Edward Van Sloan- Van Helsing in 1931’s Dracula) warns against it, but Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron, Mayor of Hell) lead an expedition and uncovers the previously undisturbed, and reportedly curse tomb of Imhotep… and his assistant, Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher, Svengali) reads a scroll out loud that brings the mummy back to life. Norton immediately loses his mind. In a crackle of laughter he tells his colleagues what has happened with a “You should see the face on him” 

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Boris Karloff stars in the titular role. Imhotep makes his way back to Cairo, he was cursed after being mummified alive and now he seeks to be reunited with his love Ankhesenamon. 10 years later, under  the name Ardath Bey, he recruits the archaeologists to dig up her tomb with the plan to use the Scroll of Thoth to resurrect her. Until he finds Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann, whose last role was nearly 55 years later in 1986’s Raiders of the Living Dead) who bares resemblance to Ankhesenamon. Imhotep puts her in a trance and she starts speaking in ancient Egyptian. Dr. Muller’s son is smitten with Helen, and he fears for his son’s safety.

Still: HE REFUSES TO BURN THE SCROLL OF THOTH because he’s an academic. And true academics love their work more than common sense, much of the time. The scroll is important. Important to them. Even after they find what Imhotep is planning. Even after Dr. Muller is influenced by Imhotep’s power.

The focus shifts to Helen as she is slowly captivated by Imhotep, she remembers herself as Ankhesenamon and she becomes more and more compelled by Imhotep as the film progresses. She finds herself shifting between the two identities as danger closes in. Imhotep’s plan is to kill her, mummify her and then raise her again. 

Glaring issue with this movie: The main players are not black or brown. Most presume the majority of Ancient Egyptians to have been of Asiatic/Middle Eastern descent, with those in Southern Egypt presumed to be African. The only black person is Imhotep’s “ancient blood” “nubian” slave, played by Noble Johnson, an African-American actor who played “exotic characters” in the black and white movie days, and was often relegated to slave, tribal chief, cannibal, and lots of Native Americans. He had founded his own studio in 1916 which catered to Black audiences and showcased Black actors and directors, however the Great Depression and lack of resources lead to the studio’s closing. Noble Johnson had roles in 146 films, but most from major studios were steeped in stereotypes. Helen is said to be “part Egyptian” and the actress is of Eastern European descent. Unfortunately, very to be expected of the era (although, a mixed race couple would have been taboo, as well and that was overlooked for plot). 

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Women in horror: The Mummy was co-written by Nina Wilcox Putnam who also came up with the 1040 tax form, weird.

But was it scary? Nope. Not in the slightest. The plot is preposterous. He has to kill her and resurrect her. But why? And how does a mummy get away, anyway? he wouldn’t have known how to drive, seems reasonable that someone would have spotted him. But they were all distracted by Norton’s meltdown.. whatever. It’s not scary. It’s a fun flick, though. Ridiculous, over the top, interesting, the beginning of action-horror. But most of the “scares” come from Boris Karloff glaring menacingly at the camera:

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Doesn’t quite hold up.

3/5

Agents of SHIELD- episode 11

The team is now being led by Agent Hand since Coulson was kidnapped. And they are in pursuit of someone, but not just to lock him up. They need him to get closer to Coulson

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Hand kicks Skye off the op. “You’re a distraction and you’re gone.”

Ward steps up. May says Skye will be of no use. 

Coulson is still dreaming of Tahiti. But he starts telling his kidnappers that we was dreaming of Michael Jordan and a game winning dunk. The man holding him says that he knows that Coulson went cold. A telepathic associate told him so. But now he is different. He can’t get a read on him anymore. 

Skye tries to hack in from a cafe. No luck. So she steals an SUV and crashes it. Mr. Rafman comes home where Skye has had the car towed. As an intimidation: she impersonates Agent May. Sweet. After reading a headline 

Hand gets suspicious about why SHIELD is using so many resources on Coulson. “Why is he so important?” she wonders…

And Ward is mad about Skye and says to May: “Why didn’t you stick up for her?”

May: “Excuse me?”

But it turns out that May snubs her so Skye could work how she works best. Not under anyone’s thumb, without attention from other agents. May scolds Ward for thinking the worst of her.

Skye is doing well on her own. She takes her new role as badass agent seriously. She orders Rafman to type his corporate ID into a secure swiss bank account. Security shows up and they get easily disarmed.

Meanwhile: Coulson’s original handler gets his face electrocuted by Raina’s employer. The Clairvoyant. Coulson tries to ask her what the point is. Why she’s doing this. She reminds him that the government, SHIELD, et al., have been creating super soldiers for years. She’s just trying to level the playing field. She wants to know what happened to him… and he does, too, right?

Skye gets the transaction records that she needs and takes off in Millionaire Dude’s Lamborghini. $BLSYALL

Raina plays more headgames with Coulson and he blurts out “It’s a magical plane,” then, “I keep saying that.” Raina: “Don’t you want to know why?” and then he gets back in the machine.

Skye calls Simmons. Simmons is the worst liar ever so May kicks out any interlopers to check on what she has found. Then they confront Hand, tell her about Skye’s tip. Hand says there is activity at the lab. May says they can split up. The team is following Skye’s tip. Hand is caught off guard that May is going against direction to team up with Skye, Hand reminds May that she backed the decision to kick Skye off the plane.

May: “Seems like it worked out.”

Hand: “Seems like you played me.”

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 Skye finds the houses in the desert and starts looking around. She’s spotted, but the Calvary and company show up in time.Skye hears Coulson scream and rushes to find him. Raina tries to stop her saying that “it’s for his own good.” His flash back is of two doctors and a robot with many fingers electrocuting his brain. He kept screaming “Let me die! Just let me die!” one doctor says, “Listen to him! Who ordered this?!” Nick Fury himself. The damage was catastrophic. What he’s remembering turns out to be the 7th operation. He gets to confront the doctor at the end of the episode (and removes Skye’s tracker).

Too bad “The Clairvoyant” isn’t really Public Domain Superhero Claire Voyant. Would be interesting, just a thought. 

J. August Richards is ALIVE. But badly burned, missing a leg and has one of those killswitch cameras in his eye. Oh man. Mike Peterson, that’s a tight spot. Are they setting him up to be rescued, take out the SHIELD team, become a villain?! That was probably the most suspenseful ending yet. Can’t wait til next week! Welcome back Agents of SHIELD!!