“He’s gone for a little walk.” I’ve never forgotten the first time I saw the mad assistant describe the escape of the Mummy from his tomb and the maniacal laughter that accompanied it. Again it’s the combination of Boris Karloff and makeup genius Jack Pearce that defines a creature for generations to come. When most of us think of a mummy we recall the bandaged creeping terror of Karloff’s portrayal rather than the more mundane rotted corpses found in museums all over the world. With a powerful cast and grand set designs, The Mummy would wrap all of us up in horror for 60 years.
An Egyptian archaeology expedition uncovers the tomb of the forgotten Imhotep (Karloff) who had angered the gods of ancient Egypt and was buried alive for his sins.Now revived and calling himself Ardath Bey, the creature has found the soul of his beloved in the body of a modern woman.
The audio is a digital version of the original mono soundtrack. There were plenty of problems with the original soundtrack. There is a constant crackle from the original film and some of the more important elements of dialogue have dropouts that muddle some words. There are also sound gaps where obviously sound once existed. There is virtually no high-end at all that isn’t heavily distorted or digitally gated away.
Paul Jensen provides the commentary track, and it is by far one of Universal’s best. In light of the badly damaged original sound, listening to the commentary takes nothing away from watching the film. Jensen did tons of research and is obviously passionate about the film.
The Mummy is presented in the original theatrical release aspect ratio of 1.33:1.This transfer is obviously the result of several copies of the film with the best of each print spliced together. While this process provides us with perhaps the cleanest footage at all times it creates a new problem with so many splices. Hues and contrasts fluctuate with each switch in prints. There are occasionally very clean shots, but they are rare indeed, and the process does tend to distract the viewer by disturbing the carefully created atmosphere so important to this story. With all of that said, it is still a compelling film that masterfully blends light and shadow to create an almost dream-like world.
David Skaal returns with his feature “Mummy Dearest” which like all of his new features provides a wealth of information on virtually every aspect of this film and the people who brought it to life. The DVD also contains an interesting still gallery, trailers, production notes, bios, and web links.
If you can avoid getting wrapped up in the technical problems associated with transferring a film of this age to such a clean and unforgiving format you will uncover a magnificent film. The cinematography was epic for the time with wonderful Egyptian sandscapes blended seamlessly with the abundant lot work. Edward Von Sloan is also an under-rated master as the wise professor and protector reprised from Dracula. I promise this DVD will “Awaken memories of love, crime, and death.”