Ep 1.5 The Mummy (1932)

We bid you welcome to Universal Monsters Cast, where your horror hosts – Gillman Joel, Dr. Shock and Wolfman Josh – regularly brave discussions of many a monstrous thing, with a special focus on the Universal Monsters, both the classic films and the emerging Dark Universe.

Season 1. Episode 5. In this episode we are joined by special guest The Bride (better known as Station! from The Sci-Fi Podcast) for our review of The Mummy (1932). In the first four episodes, we discussed all of the news surrounding Universal’s Dark Universe and reviewed the 2017 film The Mummy. We’ll come back around to what we think the future may hold for the Dark Universe when the Blu-Ray for The Mummy (2017) is released in September, but for now we’ll be going back to some classic monster movies, beginning with our review of The Mummy (1932)!


[ 00:00:00 ] I. Intro

– Welcome, The Bride!
– Discussing our histories with (and nostalgia for) The Mummy

The Bride and her Monster.

[ 00:00:00 ] II. Feature Review – The Mummy (1932)

Ratings and Recommendations
The Bride: 8.5 / Watch it!
Dr. Shock: 9 / Must see
Wolfman Josh: 7.5 / Must see
Gillman Joel: 7.5 / Rent it

Universal studio still of Boris Karloff and Jack Pierce.

[ 02:09:45 ] VII. Wrap up / Plugs 

The Bride’s Links:
Liz covers all things science fiction at The Sci-Fi Podcast
Liz has an upcoming appearance on Geek Cast Live
Follow Liz on Twitter @lizreadscomics

Incredible alternative fan poster by illustrator Martin Ansin for Mondo.


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Reference articles for this episode:

The Mummy Composer Brian Tyler Gets Deep About Film’s Score
by Jon Burlingame for Variety

Music for the Monsters: Universal Picture’s Horror Film Scores of the Thirties
by William Rosar

The Mummy (USA, 1932)
entry on Horrorpedia

The Bride’s Links:
Liz covers all things science fiction at The Sci-Fi Podcast
Liz recently appeared on Geek Cast Live
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizReadsComics

Gillman Joel’s links:
Joel covers retro movies at Retro Movie Geek
Follow @RetroMovieGeek on Twitter
Join the RMG Facebook Group
Joel used to cover forgotten flix at Forgotten Flix Remembers

Wolfman Josh’s links:
Follow Josh on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @IcarusArts
Josh covers horror movies on HorrorMoviePodcast.com
Josh covers streaming online movies on MovieStreamCast.com
Follow MSC on Twitter @MovieStreamCast
Like MSC on Facebook

Dr. Shock’s links:
Dave writes daily movie reviews on DVDinfatuation.com
Follow Dave on Twitter @DVDinfatuation
Like Dave’s DVD Infatuation on Facebook
Dave podcasts about horror movies on Horror Movie Podcast and Land of the Creeps
You can read all of Dave’s “Universal Horror” written reviews (HERE) at DVDinfatuation.com

UMC Producer and Composer Kagan Breitenbach’s links:
Check out Kagan’s music at KaganBreitenbach.com
Subscribe to Kagan’s YouTube Channel QuartetMacbre
Follow Kagan on Twitter @KRBrietenbach

A very hairy Wolfman gets his mummy on.

51 thoughts on “Ep 1.5 The Mummy (1932)

  1. Out of all of the main Universal Monster movies, The Mummy is the one I have the strongest negative feelings on. Even for a movie I’ve criticized a lot, Creature from the Black Lagoon, my only real issue is that it drags on too much. There’s value in the Creature, even if I don’t think it was ever realized.

    1932’s The Mummy though? For me personally, it holds zero value. It’s far too similar to Dracula, that I’m left wondering why I’m not just watching Dracula instead. The lack of a wrapped up Mummy makes me wonder why I’m not watching The Mummy’s Hand. I am left so bored by The Mummy.

    Personally, I strongly disagree that The Mummy’s Hand is a remake of The Mummy. They’re both movies with mummies. That’s about where the similarities end. The Mummy’s Hand has a different looking mummy, tone is lighter, the objective is different, and it feels like its own film rather than being a cheaper version of a previous movie. To me, The Mummy is nothing more than Werewolf of London, but forced into being seen as a classic over The Mummy’s Hand. The Mummy’s Hand is the one I feel should be included in that amazing Universal Monsters Blu-ray and The Mummy treated as a bonus (Like Werewolf of London) where it’s interesting to see this earlier monster movie before they realized how to make a great mummy film (Just as they created the perfect werewolf – The Wolf Man).

    With my most recent rewatch, I gave The Mummy a 4/10.

    I await the tomatoes thrown my way.

    • It’s interesting to say that you “strongly disagree” that The Mummy’s hand retreads The Mummy. As an aside, Werewolf of London is probably the wrong example for me because I enjoy it. She-Wolf of London and I get comparison. I don’t know about “forced” but you make an interesting point about The Mummy being the classic when it is arguably the lesser film. Why would that be? Is it the simplicity of the title? It’s declaring itself as the definitive version?

      I think it’s likely it has most to do with Boris Karloff. He’s a legend and his talent is on display here. The mummies to follow aren’t given the same depth of character. They aren’t parts for actors.

      I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing The Mummy’s Hand (and the other films) in such quick succession, but I have really enjoyed the experience of spending so much time with this film.

      What I don’t get is the “zero value” comment. It’s still a rich cinematic experience, in my opinion. As the horror fan you are, I think it’s a surprising argument. Does Dawn of the Dead have zero value bc it comes after Night of the Living Dead or because it is followed by Return of the Living Dead? We don’t say that about Halloween vs Friday the 13th vs My Bloody Valentine.

      • Just for clarification since I was pretty hard on The Mummy, I don’t dislike Werewolf of London. It’s not great, but it’s also not bad. I wouldn’t be opposed with watching Werewolf of London again instead of just watching The Wolf Man yet again. So although I’m comparing a movie I greatly dislike (The Mummy) and one I’m perfectly okay with (Werewolf of London), it has less to do with quality and more to do with coming first and then, to me, quickly being surpassed by the future Wolf Man and The Mummy’s Hand. My post may have been very negative towards The Mummy, but I don’t mean any offense to Werewolf of London.

        She-Wolf of London and The Mummy do not have the comparison of being the first films, but I do see similarities in the fact that they both fail to give me what I want. I wish to see the traditionally wrapped up mummy, but the Mummy doesn’t give me that.


        If I’m going to watch a werewolf film, I want there to actually be a werewolf. I can appreciate a big twist at the end of a film, but when I go out of my way to watch a film because I’m expecting a werewolf, but I don’t get it, it’s going to be frustrating. To make matters worse, She-Wolf of London is just not a good movie. At all. It’s likely my least favorite Universal Monster film that I’ve seen.


        As far as why The Mummy gets all of the attention while The Mummy’s Hand receives far less, it most likely is because of Boris Karloff. It’s odd though because as popular as a mummy is when paired with a vampire and a werewolf, it’s nearly always the typical wrapped up mummy, not Karloff’s mummy. When General Mills needed a mummy for their Fruity Yummy Mummy cereal, they used a mummy that more closely resembled a mummy from The Mummy’s Hand rather than The Mummy. It honestly makes me wonder if the roles were reversed and Tom Tyler starred in The Mummy and Boris Karloff starred in The Mummy’s Hand, would The Mummy receive much attention in 2017?

        I realize I am very hard on The Mummy. Perhaps a little unfair. Any comments about it holding zero value is directed at solely me. For me, and quite possibly me alone, I struggle to find any value in the film because I can’t get past the fact that it feels like an inferior Frankenstein film and the look of the monster isn’t what I feel it should be. I don’t mean to come across as dismissive that no one can find value in The Mummy.

        For your other arguments, I don’t think it quite fits my issues with The Mummy. For Dawn of the Dead, not only do I think it’s a superior film to Night of the Living Dead, but the story is different enough and it has zombies in it. Same thing goes for Return of the Living Dead. As similar as slashers are, those that followed some of those earliest ones like Halloween still gave us what I believed a slasher was supposed to be like. I would feel pretty frustrated if I was watching a 1980 slasher where it has many of the same elements as Halloween, including one of Carpenter’s songs, Donald Pleasence, ect, but the killer is walking around wearing t-shirt and shorts without a mask and maybe he doesn’t even kill anyone. haha

        For what it’s worth, I fully realize that my views on The Mummy might very well be my most controversial stance on a horror movie.

        • I agree with Josh, that Karloff is a big draw for The Mummy (1932). It blew my mind, as a kid, when I realized that Ardath Bey was the same actor who played the monster in this film and Frankenstein. I had only seen Karloff playing a monster. I admit I haven’t seen a lot of his acting up to this point. On IMDB it looks like he had been acting since 1919 and made about 10 movies just in 1932. He was 45 and already an experienced actor. Every time he’s on screen I’m drawn to him. He moves slowly and deliberately but commands lots of power and presence, just like a mummy back from the dead with magical powers. Also, I love his voice and it’s so cool to hear him talk. When he’s telling the story with his vision-pool thing, it reminds me of his narration for How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

          Like Kagan said, it also has a great German expressionistic look to it as many of the films from this time did. I love that early 30’s horror look. I also love the little model pyramids at the beginning with the the title carved on them. Also, like Kagan said, the make-up is so good in this film. The mummy in the Mummy’s Hand doesn’t look as good to me with his slicked back hair.

          This is the creation of the mummy as a popular monster! Frankenstein and Dracula came from literature but this creature was ripped from societal fears of the time.

          Why does the Mummy’s Hand not get more attention? I think you’re right, Sal that Karloff has a lot to do with it. But, maybe the rest of the Mummy series got lost in popularity because of timing. The Mummy’s hand came out 8 years later in 1940 and the world was very different. They released the next 4 mummy films between 1940 and 1944 alongside lots of other monster mashes and tongue in cheek monster films. I’d like to see box office stats for the old Mummy films.

          Yea, She-wolf is a bit of a disappointment but I still like it (looses all credibility) and we eventually got Ginger Snaps.

          • Well, I can’t stand Ginger Snaps (loses all credibility, but is fine with that). Haha

            Mark, you completely sold me with “This is the creation of the mummy as a popular monster!” We kind of said it a million different ways, but of course it is the classic when it created the genre and a new kind of monster!

            Speaking so much about Night and Dawn with the recent passing of Romero, Night of the Living Dead will live on forever, not just on its own merits as a film or because of its copyright status, but because of its creation of a new kind of monster.

          • I’m not sure how much their popularity in the 30’s and 40’s factors into the Mummy being the far more popular film today compared to The Mummy’s Hand. In my 5 seconds of checking, I couldn’t find box office numbers, but it is a safe bet that The Mummy brought in more money since Universal Monsters were starting to wane in popularity during the majority of the Mummy Hand’s sequels. However, it’s been like…a million years since then. So there’s been plenty of time for popularity to either be raised or lower for either film. I suppose it is possible that due to the popularity of The Mummy originally, it caused Universal to always promote it more than The Mummy’s Hand over the years. Whether that means giving The Mummy additional theater showings in later years, releasing more merch for the original Mummy, and allowing the Mummy to play on TV more often than The Mummy’s Hand. So now years later, generations have just grown up with The Mummy being pushed as the biggest mummy film and everyone accepts it. In which case, the Mummy’s 30’s success played a role in The Mummy being the more popular film, even if it’s not directly because of that initial success, but rather the ramifications of that initial success.

            If any of that nonsense even makes sense.

            • Oh, as far as popularity today. Yea, I guess because The Mummy (1932) was the original. Though, I think a lot of horror fans do appreciate the 1940’s mummy films. Hammer’s Mummy from 1959 seems to be well respected among horror fans. I know you and I both like that film.

              For non-horror fans, I’m not sure they know about any mummy specific films except for The Mummy (1999) and the new one. They just know the mummy as a popular halloween character. These Universal monsters are so iconic that many people recognize them but have never even seen the original films. I read countless comments comparing Tom Cruise’s Mummy to the “original” Mummy with Brendan Fraser.

          • Dark Mark says:

            “For non-horror fans, I’m not sure they know about any mummy specific films except for The Mummy (1999) and the new one. They just know the mummy as a popular halloween character. These Universal monsters are so iconic that many people recognize them but have never even seen the original films. I read countless comments comparing Tom Cruise’s Mummy to the “original” Mummy with Brendan Fraser.”

            That’s one of my annoyances with using the same title over and over. You can’t blame anyone for thinking 1999’s The Mummy is the first when that was the one they were raised on and this new movie comes around with the same exact title. Four out the five biggest mummy movies are all just called the Mummy.

            Say Mark, which is your favorite? The Mummy, The Mummy, The Mummy, or The Mummy? Personally, I’m a fan of The Mummy, I hate The Mummy, The Mummy wasn’t interesting, and The Mummy was something I haven’t even bothered watching. >_>

            Yet another reason why I love The Mummy’s Hand. haha

        • Sal said: “For what it’s worth, I fully realize that my views on The Mummy might very well be my most controversial stance on a horror movie.”

          I don’t know. I’d say it’s up there with your stance on several classic ’80s slashers. If I remember correctly, you were pretty tough on films like The Burning and Curtains, among others.

          • I have been critical on some popular 80’s slashers. Some of the ones that stand out are Friday the 13th Part 3 (Rating: 3/10), The Prowler (Rating: 6/10), and apparently Curtains too (Rating: 2.5/10).

            Now, The Burning (Rating: 8/10), I’ve always enjoyed. In my most recent watch, I called it one of the better 80’s slashers.

            I do think I’m pretty fair when it comes to slashers. My opinions are sometimes different from the masses, but I also love several highly regarded ones as well. With slashers, sometimes they become too repetitive so it can be easy for me to become bored by them.

    • Hey Sal! I can appreciate that you have negative feelings about The Mummy 1932. I think in comparison to films like Frankenstein and Dracula, The Mummy is definitely slow, and not as entirely original.

      However, saying it holds zero value is pretty dismissive. I think there was a lot of great discussion about Freund’s unique German expressionist cinematography and blocking style. Also, I’d argue the make-up, though we see very little of it, is superior to the monster effects in Dracula. And most importantly, if you listened to the music section you’ll know this film holds immense value in the evolution of film music and is a crucial part of the birth of the first horror film score.

      While it’s certainly not the most entertaining of the classical universal monster films, it’s still worth watching and firmly belongs with the original Universal Monster films. For the record, I too give it about a 7.5/10

      • All the more reason for you to return for a future episode of UMC to discuss your favorite Universal Monster film so I can either finish the job of breaking your heart or redeem myself by also loving your favorite. haha

  2. Loved the music segment! (Enjoyed the rest, too). I used to watch these old movies on channel 5. I prefer the lumbering bandage guy, but love all these monsters and am really enjoying your podcast.

    • Thanks for the kind words Scarlet!

      I agree, I am looking forward to discussing the films where we have more of the lumbering bandage guy, but this the ’32 film is definitely ripe for good discussion.

    • I loved the music segment too, Kagan! Thanks for not dumbing it down. Great job and a shout-out to the phrygian dominant scale! It is the fifth mode from the harmonic minor scale, hence the name “dominant.” Or it’s a phrygian scale with a major 3rd.
      1, b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, b7, 8

      Also Kagan, thanks for the music comparison between the 1932 and 2017 Mummy. That really helps my appreciation for Brian Tyler’s score and his attention to the original Universal Films.

    • I think the whole-tone scale works well to convey a dream-like state or magical happenings. Probably because it’s constructed without a tonal center. When you hear it you don’t get a sense of being grounded. It’s sort of unresolved.

      Some of these early movie scores helped define which scales and harmonies we use for emotions and settings, but I’m sure a lot of it was taken from operas and ballets that came before films. I wonder why we associate the phrygian dominant scale (and others as Kagan mentioned) with the “east.”

      • I’ve been noticing the “magical happenings” sound all over the place since I had this conversation with Kagan. I recently watched the Back to the Future series with my kids as well as Honey I Shrunk the Kids and both use a similar approach to the “magic” (or science fiction, actually) in those films.

        • I love the music in the Back to the Future trilogy! James Horner and Alan Silvestri are A list composers.

          Kagan had mentioned the debate whether or not to use non-source music in films. I remember hearing this debate came up again around the time of Jaws and that John Williams’ score helped prove again how useful music can be in a film. I can’t find a source for that information so I’m not sure it’s true but I remember hearing it somewhere.

      • I was wondering as to what level of music theory I wanted to really dive in to. However, knowing that you’re listening Dark Mark, I know at least one person would enjoy it if I were to go in to more nitty gritty of the distance between different scale degrees, which is the main defining factor of different modes like Phyrgian Dominant, and also things like atonality in whole tone scales.

        Also, in the case of Phyrgian Dominant being used for middle eastern and Egyptian music, it’s actually quite literally because music that comes from that part of the world really does traditionally use this and other similar modes. In fact, this mode is used across many eastern cultures. In fact, this scale, which is used to evoke Egypt, happens to be the exact same that is used frequently in Klezmer music. Harmonically it’s the same, but rhythmically and instrumentally they differ significantly enough to separate Egyptian sounding music from more Jewish sounding music.

    • Yes, Kagen’s segment on the music was tremendous. He did a marvelous job with it, and like Josh, I definitely learned a few things.
      Thanks for the comment, Scarlet, and thanks also for listening!

    • Idk how often it can be done, but I’d love to hear Kagan on the various MPN shows explaining the origins of certain musical pieces whenever it applies to a movie being reviewed.

  3. Has anyone seen the trailer for The Shape of Water? I think this is the “Universal Monsters” film Guillermo was probably told he’d never direct, but decided to do it anyway. It looks great and I can’t wait to see what the film offers besides what we got in the trailer. Visually, it’s stunning to say the least, but that was to be expected, so there’s at least that.

    • I have not watched it yet. I’m a little trailer-averse to films that I know I’m definitely going to watch. But of course we are digging deep into the Dark Universe trailers and so maybe dissecting The Shape of Water has some value as well. I’ve been thinking a lot about the gothic romance of Crimson Peak. It’s such a Universal Monsters movie. I can imagine his Dracula being very similar. I really hope that he hasn’t been told that he can’t direct one of these films. I really want to see it happen. But I do love the idea of him just making his own, iconic films in the style of those classics that he loves so much. Almost like Baby Driver to Ant-Man. The version of these franchise characters that he wanted to explore wasn’t going to get made so he just did an original character and story within the world he was imagining.

      • I would strongly recommend not watching it as long as you’re already wanting to see it. It looked as if it revealed far too much about the film.

        I’m excited to see the movie though. Although I love the idea of Gill-Man, the execution in the Creature trilogy left a lot to be desired. Unless I count Monster Squad, I’ve been waiting to see a great Gill-Man film and while The Shape of Water may not officially be a Creature film, it seems like the next best thing.

        • I’ve had several people tell me how great the trailer looked, and was just about to search it out myself before seeing your warning, Sal. So thanks for that!
          I’m definitely anxious to see this movie, but unless it’s deemed a necessity for an upcoming discussion on UMC, I’ll gladly avoid any potential spoilers!

        • Well I’m not at all surprised, as Del Toro has already given us one of our great underwater gillmen – Doug Jones in Steve Wang’s makeup for Abe Sapian. It’s so damn good! And Steve Wang, of course, designed The Gillman from The Monster Squad (which seems to be everyone’s favorite)! So all is as it should be. Except for the fact that these guys should all be making Universal Monsters films right now, instead of this other stuff. Get your act together, Dark Universe.

          I decided that I had to watch this trailer, as we’re probably going to have to have this discussion on the podcast. So, I watched it. And loved it. I’m very excited. But, it does seem a bit more light-hearted and whimsical than I’d have wanted to see in a Universal Monsters movie. As much as I love the look of this and loved the “gothic romance” in Crimson Peak, I wish that Del Toro just went a little stronger and delivered some of the horror that we get in the films he’s produced, like Mamma or The Orphanage. Or Pan’s Labryinth, for that matter. I get that he’s being very deliberate in trying to draw a distinction between the genres. I just don’t know that it’s useful to do so. And I especially wouldn’t mind a little genre-bending, as a horror fan.

    • Juan, I saw the trailer at the theater awhile back. Like many have said it looked stunning and I was loving the “Gillman” elements. It’s been awhile since I saw the trailer, but I’m not sure I felt truly intrigued by the premise. In fact, I seem to remember the premise feeling a bit muddled. For some reason, it reminded me a little (very little) bit of The Cure For Wellness trailer. Not sure what that means, but I hold out hope it’s a truly original take on a Gillman-like story, and considering Del Toro’s at the helm, I assume it will be.

  4. Hahaha! I totally agree with you Gillman Joel. The commentary by film historian Paul Jensen is pretty dry but occasionally he gives some interesting facts. His description of the scene where the mummy comes to life always cracks me up.

    “Then Freund cuts to a close-up of the mummy. We see it’s eyes open slightly. Then he tilts down to the arms as they slowly unfold.”


    • Assuming you’ve listened to all of the commentaries on The Essential Collection, which are the best to watch? I’ve owned the Blu-Ray set for a few years now and I don’t think I’ve gotten around to listening to any of them yet.

      • I have listened to all of them but a long time ago. The commentaries can help a newer audience relate to these films. Of course I prefer the Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein commentary but I remember liking the Dracula stuff and the Invisible man too. I like anything with David J. Skal.

    • Thanks, Dark Mark! And you are totally right, even though it was dry it did provide some useful insights. I think I mentioned this in the episode but it just felt like he’d written a paper or a book about The Mummy and was reading directly from the text. When I’ve listened to other more “academic” commentaries from the likes of David J. Skal or Tom Weaver, I don’t recall feeling as fidgety. 🙂

  5. This episode was so good, everyone! A real credit to The Mummy (1932). And wow, Dave was on fire. I think The Bride put it best when she said, “Holy schnikes, man, you know your stuff!”

    Liz, great picture up above of you and Mattroid. I have those same bats on your wall that I got from target a few years ago.

  6. I’m glad you guys mentioned it because I didn’t want to feel like a perv. There was a bunch of sexiness in this film and even the Brendan Fraser films that I feel was lacking in the 2017 film. Exotic sexiness is just part of a mummy film.

    Here are the approximate ages of the love interests in all 3 films:

    Karloff – 45
    Zita Johann – 28

    Brendan Fraser – 31
    Rachel Weisz – 29

    Tom Cruise – 55
    Annabelle Wallis – 32


    • Whoops, I forgot to mention that link above is for a cool and very short article about Zita Johann. Freund tried to get her fired by taking her clothes off but she said if you can get it past the censors, she’ll do it. Maybe you guys mentioned that on the podcast. I can’t remember.

  7. Late to the party; my apologies. I listened to this a few weeks ago and nearly had to pull the car over when Dave went into his Ali impression…my gut still hurts from laughing.

    All in all, stellar reviewing; always nice to hear Wolfman shine when talking monsters. Loved the music segment a hell of a lot, and of course, I was very proud of Bride for doing an outstanding job, as you all did. Of all the Universal movies, this is probably in my top 4; a solid 8/10 for sure.

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