I have a serious fondness for the classic Universal horror movies of the 30's and 40's. Creepy atmosphere, sexual subtext, and vaudevillian silliness oozes out of every pore of these movies who were telling such sordid tales while simultaneously fighting the censorship boards of the studios, with the conflicts resulting in some great movies (and some really bad ones, to be fair). For my 13th birthday, my present from my parents was a dozen blank VHS tapes so that I could record a classic horror movie marathon running on one of the pay channels over my b-day weekend. As I got older, I must have burned out more than half of those tapes, watching the movies over and over.
By the time I was graduating from high school, the studios were resurrecting these classic B-movie franchises with lush productions such as Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and I was in hog heaven. Sure, some of the movies were pretentious forays that weren't nearly as fun as the originals (I'm looking at you, Wolf ), but at least my monstrous childhood companions were getting some serious attention once again. So when, in 1999, the studios finally got around to The Mummy, I took my 9 dollars to the theater and settled in to be taken back to the first time I saw the bandaged undead-corpse shamble across the museum floor in Karloff's 1931 Original.
What I saw instead was a film that owed more to Indiana Jones and the pulp serials of the 30's than the classic Universal films. But it was made with such a sense of glee that I didn't mind, especially since I was too busy being blown away by some of the more astonishing computer special effects of the day. The story is laughable, the characters sketched thin, and the scenarios are absured, but when the DVD came out, I eagerly snatched it up, and started the much more difficult process of burning that out by watching it over and over. Sure it wasn't atmospheric and creepy, but it was one hell of an adventure romp that paid homage to all of its sources... eventually (near the end, I finally got my shambling bandaged corpses in a scene that also makes great reference to Jason and the Argonauts).
Fast forward almost a decade and the Mummy theme finally makes its way out of the voting block for the Cavalcade. This was the first picture I thought of, so I ran out to the store, picked up the shiny new Blu-Ray. The night of the event came and I threw it in the player, eagerly anticipating a great experience and....well... the years haven't been all that kind to it.
Being from the early years of photo-real CGI, the effects aren't nearly as impressive as they once were, and the overall flow of the movie just doesn't work as well as it once did. That said, we had a good time watching the picture, even if it wasn't the thrill-a-minute it was back in '99. Additionally, there really aren't that many better choices for mummy movies easily available. The sequels got progressively worse (with Tomb of the Dragon Emperor being a total waste of time on any level), and there isn't exactly a glut of Mummy pictures otherwise. Pull it out for a Cavalcade, and you won't be disappointed... But you won't be blown away either.