Whither The Mummy?

Illustration for article titled Whither The Mummy?

With Hallowe'en approaching, we should remember that the horror landscape used to be more than just zombies, vampires and shirtless werewolves. Whatever happened to that onetime horror movie staple, the Mummy? Will we ever see its' bandaged like again?

With a horror heritage that includes a Bram Stoker novel (The Jewel of Seven Stars, released just six years after Dracula) and a string of Bela Lugosi movies, the good ol' Mummy should be up there with all the other horror classics getting Twilighted and revamped for the CW generation. So why are we in a Mummy recession? Here're some potential problems for the bandaged ones:

The Comedy Aspect

Whether it's the admittedly-silly name, the visual of a slow-moving figure wrapped entirely in bandages or too many appearances in Scooby Doo (See above), it's kind of hard to take Mummies seriously as any kind of threat recently. Nowadays, you're as likely to see a Mummy as comedic McGuffin in Eureka (or, yes, subject of a Scooby Doo direct-to-DVD movie) as anything that's really going to try and spook you. Seeing Mummies as sources for comedy isn't anything new, of course -

- but somewhere along the line, that's all they became. For Mummies to live again, someone would have to come along and treat them with the fear and respect they deserve.


The Mummy Trilogy
...And that person wouldn't be Stephen Sommers. Don't misunderstand; as sub-Indiana Jones wannabes with the focus firmly on kid-friendly adventure and giving John Hannah a chance to overact at every opportunity, the three Mummy movies are actually pretty good (Well, the first one, at least). But as movies that make Mummies something to be spoken of in the same breath as vampires or werewolves...? Not exactly the greatest.

Part of the problem with these movies is, in my opinion, we knew too much about the Mummy; by nature of its story, the Mummy ceased to be an unknowable, unstoppable threat but was, instead, a flawed human who just happened to have been resurrected millennia later with supernatural powers. Considering this trilogy has shaped the mainstream perception of the Mummy as much as anything else since its release, it's frustrating that this route was taken instead of the producers' original idea to let Clive Barker create a low-budget modern day movie about a cultist looking to reanimate an army of Mummies...

There's no way around it: Zombies have completely stolen Mummies' thunder... and their whole schtick. Just look at the evidence: Undead? Check. Slow lumbering around? Check. Killing people? Check. Zombies are naked Mummies, except they're wearing clothes. It's not hard to see why zombies have come into ascendance while the popularity of the Mummy has declined: They offer all of the threat without any of the baggage; they can be contemporary, of any nationality, and don't have a particularly defined look. But is the overly-populated Zombie Bandwagon really enough to derail the Mummy Train permanently? If nothing else, I'm surprised that someone hasn't tried to get a bigscale Mummy movie made by pretending that it's a historic take on the zombie idea (Hollywood producers: You can send my fee care of io9.com, thank you very much).

Illustration for article titled Whither The Mummy?

Don't think I don't get it; Mummies seem silly and old-fashioned (literally, considering that whole Ancient Egypt thing) in a world where Vampire Diaries and Twilight show their horror peers to be filled with pouting teenagers who listen to Muse all the time. But all it would take is one well-made project from someone who really cares about the concept to put the Mummy back where it belongs, as a Horror Icon worth more than toilet-papered Hallowe'en costumes. Anyone got Guillermo del Toro's phone number... and a way to clear his schedule for the next couple of years?


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You want the Mummy to be unknowable force personified, but in the same breath you want the character himself to be memorable. That kinda makes him nothing but a special effect, which, in many of the traditional horror films, he was - just a murderer called up by an evil master. Dracula was a villain, Wolfman was a victim, and Adam was a tragic cauldron of vengeance. Good, flawed characters, traditional story types, good drama. Fundamentally, the old Mummy films weren't horror movies at all. The traditional Mummy was the weapon in a murder mystery, and very often, little more. Karloff was GREAT, the makeup was good, but the role itself was window dressing.