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Boris Karloff's legendary performance has become a landmark in the annals of screen history. As the mummy, Im-Ho-Tep, he is accidentally revived after 3,700 years by a team of British archaeologists. It is revealed in a flashback that he was a high priest, embalmed alive for trying to revive the vestal virgin whom he loved, after she had been sacrificed. Alive again, he sets out to find his lost love. Today, over 50 years after The Mummy was first released, this brooding dream-like film remains a masterpiece not only of the genre, but for all time.
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Following Universal Studios' very successful "Dracula" and "Frankenstein," "The Mummy" brought together director Karl Freund, actor Boris Karloff, and makeup artist Jack Pierce to create a movie that was superior in many ways to its predecessors. Director Karl Freund mostly worked as a cinematographer, and had a career which stretched from silent films to "I Love Lucy," where he created the sitcom camera configuration used today. Freund was a master of visuals, and with "The Mummy" creates an atmospheric masterpiece, with beautifully filmed scenes of ancient and modern (1932) Egypt. Sets and costumes are top-notch. You can almost feel the dust in the air.
Boris Karloff and Jack Pierce again team up to create a classic monster. Karloff only appears briefly in full mummy makeup, but those moments are wonderful and quite effective. It is as modern (1932) incarnation Ardath Bey, that Karloff and Pierce reach their peak. Made up to look two thousand years old, Karloff combines evil and pathos as lovelorn monster, Ardath Bey. Stage actress Zita Johann makes a beautiful counterpoint to Karloff, as the intended object of Bey's affection.
I'll be the first one to say that old movies aren't for everybody. This movie is from the dawn of the sound era and has some ridiculous overacting by lesser players, and some stagey moments that slow the pace of the film. However, if you are willing to let yourself be taken in by the dream-like aura of this movie, you will find that "The Mummy" well deserves its place in the Pantheon of classic horror movies.
I've owned "The Mummy" in most of its different media incarnations: VHS, DVD, iPad, and now Blu-ray, This version has been remastered, and is clearly the best visually. The sound quality is similar to that of the DVD. One is stuck with the quality from the original sound track, which is from the early days of movie sound recording. The Blu-ray has a number of features, most of which were also available on the DVD, as well as a number of commentaries.
If you are a fan of old movies, "The Mummy" is a worthwhile addition to your Blu-ray library. If you already have the DVD, this Blu-ray will offer an improved picture and a few extra features and commentaries at a pretty reasonable price. If you like well-composed, beautifully lit, artfully designed (and completely artificial) sets, this movie will deliver. But if you aren't a fan of classic films from the early sound period, you will probably want to stay away.
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