The Mummy is a 1932 Universal Studios picture starring the uber-legendary Boris Karloff and directed by Karl Freund. The film was inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamun‘s tomb in 1922. The tomb had parchment with a Curse of the Pharaohs inside of it, which producers and Universal could not resist using as a basis for the film. They also used elements from Alessandro Cagliostro, the main difference being Imhotep used supernatural means to sustain his life while Cagliostro used science.
John L. Balderston was brought on to write the script for The Mummy due to his contributions to Universal’s earlier success of Dracula and Frankenstein. He also was the journalist who covered the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb for the New York World so he was and outstanding choice for the script. Balderston relocated the story to Egypt and the movie’s title character was Imhotep, based on the ancient architect. Imhotep would set out on his frightful crusade to revive his old love by killing and then mummifying her reincarnated version. Imhotep would use the Scroll of Toth to do this.
Contrary to popular myth, the Scroll of Toth is not real but is more likely based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead. However; Toth was indeed considered the wisest of the Egyptian gods who did bring by Isis from the dead. This would help lend believe-ability into the story of The Mummy.
However like all films it isn’t without it’s controversy. Even though the film takes place in Egypt, people in the East were upset since all of the actors in The Mummy were clearly American. It became a clash between Western science vs. Egyptian mythology.
Despite the cultural backlash, The Mummy would go on to be a box office hit and would earn it’s place in film horror history and would go on to create many sequels and remakes. It’s back story isn’t real but is so believable it takes a life of it’s own and the story of The Mummy is immortalized forever.
It is a pleasure to invite you into his tale of immortal love. The Mummy!
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