Archive for October, 2016

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Hammer Studio’s The Mummy (1959)

Posted in Genres, horror, monsters, movies, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2016 by Paxton

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Okay, I’m doing a more popular monster, so I get to visit a Hammer film this year!  In 1959, one of the more prolific Hammer directors, Terence Fisher, as well as one of the more prominent writers, Jimmy Sangster, tackled Hammer’s version of The Mummy.

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It starred the usual Hammer all stars, Peter Cushing as John Banning and Christopher Lee as the mummy.  As in the other Hammer monster movies, their mummy movie was based on Universal’s version, but maybe not the one you’d think.  Instead of re-adapting Universal’s 1932 The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, this movie takes it’s story from two of the later Universal mummy sequels; The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942).  With a little bit of the climax from The Mummy’s Ghost (1944).  And while the Karloff version is held in higher regard, I feel the sequels have a bit more fun with the subject.

So, how did Hammer do?  I love the Hammer aesthetic.  Check out my reviews for Horror of Dracula or Curse of Frankenstein.  When Hammer works, it’s dynamite.  When it doesn’t, you get well meaning missteps like Curse of the Werewolf.

I won’t say this particular movie was a misstep.  But it wasn’t a favorite.  It just seemed to drag a lot, especially in the middle.  But while the story was lacking, the other Hammer touches where there.  The set design is GREAT.

The tombs look great and are set designed in that spectacular way that Hammer usually does.  I mean check out the above picture of the recently opened tomb.  It’s not been opened in thousands of years but the green lights apparently still work.  Amazing.

Also, Cushing and Lee are great as always.  I just love watching Cushing be gentlemanly and awesome.

And Lee’s mummy looks just incredible as well. Especially when he’s getting shotgunned in the chest by Peter Cushing.

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And check out this “ancient scroll” that is the basis for much of the plot of this movie.

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Looks like it was printed last Thursday at Kinkos.  That being said, it’s beautiful looking.  Take a look at the inscriptions on the left picture (click it).  That’s some wonderfully detailed imagery for just a few seconds of on screen footage.  That’s Hammer for you.

Here’s where I think the problem lies.  The mummy, as a monster, is essentially boring.  He’s too passive.  Much like my issues with traditional zombies, I don’t really enjoy watching mummy movies.  And that’s my  main problem with this movie.  The mummy is used as “muscle”, the second banana if you will. It’s probably why I like the Brendan Fraser mummy movies a bit more because I feel like that mummy was in charge. He actually felt dangerous.  While it was fun to watch Cushing and Lee, the overall story was a bit boring, but that’s a problem with most mummy movies for me and not necessarily a problem with Hammer’s movie.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Out of the Aeons (1935) – HP Lovecraft and Hazel Heald

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by Paxton

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There were five stories written by a Massachusetts writer named Hazel Heald which were revised by HP Lovecraft and published. I’ll talk about one of those stories today.

The story is called Out of the Aeons and it was published in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales magazine.

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Like the Doyle story The Ring of Thoth, this story isn’t a typical “mummy story”. It begins with the discovery of a mysterious mummy on a mysterious island that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the ocean and then mysteriously disappeared soon after its discovery.

The story is written as a letter of final confession for the curator of the Cabot Museum in Boston.  The letter explains that some unbelievable and terrifying events have sprung up around the mummy and this letter he’s writing is to set down on record what actually happened as museum officials have essentially “white washed” the majority of the story with the press.

Much of the story is the curator delving into the history of the mummy.  It’s a fairly interesting and creepy sort of legend that has been culled from several banned tomes like “The Black Book” and the “Necronomicon”.  About half the story is catching the reader up to what the mummy could possibly be.  The back half of the story is essentially what happens to the mummy in the museum when the story gets out and the exhibit becomes popular.  All the nutzos come out and the situation escalates to a creepy and horrific end.

I enjoyed this short story.  I think I liked it even better than the previous Lovecraft stories I read, Herbert West, Re-animator and From Beyond.  I really need to delve into some of the Cthulhu stories.  Lovecraft’s writings have sort of the “creeping dread” atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat feeling like something just isn’t “right”.  Very effective.

A few tidbits of Lovecraftian mythos make appearances in this story.  One of the characters who briefly visits the mummy is awesomely named Swami Chandraputra, which is a known alias for Randolph Carter, one of Lovecraft’s recurring characters.  There are several Dark Gods listed in this story, two of them being previously mentioned as a part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  Lastly, the previous curator of the museum who actually discovers the mummy is named Pickman and shares this name with the painter in Lovecraft’s story Pickman’s Model.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Mummies Alive! (1997)

Posted in cartoons, holiday, monsters, mummy, nostalgia, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2016 by Paxton

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In 1997 DIC Entertainment released the animated series Mummies Alive!

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The premise is very mummy-y. Evil sorcerer Scarab kills the Pharaoh’s son but is entombed alive for his crime (why do they never KILL these guys? It’s always entombed ALIVE). He revives in modern day (1997) and searches for the reincarnation of the prince he killed. However, the prince’s protectors are also revived to protect him from harm. It’s a constant battle to keep Scarab from getting his hands on the reincarnated prince.

The prince’s guardians are all mummies each with the power of an Egyptian god. Ja-Kal uses the spirit of falcon, Rath uses the spirit of snake, Armon uses the spirit of ram, and Nefer-Tina uses the spirit of cat. They are able to call upon these powers for magical armor and abilities.

And in typical “cartoon magical transformations” form they call on the powers when they are in immediate danger but then it takes 30 seconds or more for all four mummies to fully transform and by then, in reality, they’d all be dead.

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To trigger their powers, the mummies call out the phrase “With the Strength of Ra!” Using these magical abilities depletes their strength, so once their strength is exhausted, they must rest in their sarcophagi to regain their abilities.

Along with Scarab, the mummies had to contend with a litany of Egyptian gods and monsters like Anubis, Set and Sekhmet.  But the best episode has to be the one where the mummies actually take a tour of Alcatraz (not even kidding).  Here’s the cartoon version of Alcatraz Island.

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The show only ran one season but managed to pump out 42 episodes.

You can check out the very first episode, Ra! Ra! Ra! below:

Here’s the episode called The Bird-Mummy of Alcatraz where the mummies take the tour of the infamous prison:


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Scooby-Doo and a Mummy Too! (1969)

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2016 by Paxton

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During the very first season of Scooby Doo Where Are You!, the gang met up with a mummy.  It was in episode 12 which aired in late 1969 and it was called Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too!

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As most Scooby-Doo episodes are, this is a pretty fun little episode with all the regular Scooby tropes you’d expect.

The show starts off with the gang at the local college’s Department of Archaeology. They are unveiling a new mummy exhibit and the gang has offered to help set up.
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The gang is talking to “The Professor”, who is the white bread dude in the middle.  I have to assume “The Professor” is his name as he’s never called anything else.  Next to “The Professor” is…

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Dr Najib who, I presume, is the Egyptian expert.  I have to presume because the show never directly says just who he is.  The show also implies that he actually found the mummy, who is identified as “the mummy of Ankha” at first then as just “Ankha” later.  With Najib’s ascot and red fez I believe they’re trying to invoke Boris Karloff in Universal’s The Mummy.

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This is Scooby Doo so we get Shaggy and Scooby eating food that’s inedible for normal humans. For example, this is a liver a la mode sandwich. With an olive garnish. Classy.

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The mummy eventually disappears from his sarcophagus and the gang begin pursuit. They almost catch the mummy but he escapes through the museum’s glass door leaving only a mummy shapped outline in the glass. I love that this is how glass works in Scooby-Doo Land.

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Here’s the mummy stalking the gang all mummy-like. Scooby actually picks a fight with him and changes into his Hong Kong Phooey outfit to do battle. Scoob’s a black belt?!

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While being chased by the mummy, Velma has time to go to the lab and carbon date a piece of the mummy’s rags in order to reveal a clue to the mystery.

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Scooby and Shaggy, on the run from the mummy, duck into an old tool shed. Shaggy doesn’t hear the mummy in pursuit so he opens the door to see if he’s still there and sees that the mummy has started to BRICK UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE SHED. Did he mix his own cement? Surely already mixed cement wasn’t just lying around?  I love that he’s holding a spade too. Amazing.

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The mummy chases the gang around the museum and eventually gets thrown up into the basketball hoop where Fred climbs up on a ladder and unmasks him. Scoob celebrates by finding the actual mummy hiding in some bushes.  And the actual mummy looks a lot like the Boris Karloff wrapped mummy (see my AWESOME-tober-fest banner).

That’s the episode.  Like I said, it’s a pretty fun episode.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Lot 249 (1892) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted in books, Classic literature, monsters, mummy with tags , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by Paxton

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, Lot 249, was originally presented in a collection of medical stories called Round the Red Lamp.

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Published in 1892, this collection of short stories created a scandal when first released. Doyle’s fans were expecting more Sherlock Holmes-type detective and crime stories but this collection featured mostly harrowing medical stories about disease and amputation.

The story I read is called Lot 249 and is about an Oxford college student whose downstairs neighbor may or may not have reanimated an ancient Egyptian mummy through some type of dark magic.  This story was written during a late 19th-Century fascination with Egyptology and was the very first to use a reanimated mummy as the antagonist and would influence horror stories for years afterward.

It’s a short, quick read.  It reminded me a lot of Lovecraft’s Herbert West story in style, which wouldn’t be published for another thirty years.  Lot 249 is mostly three characters interacting over the course of a few days.  We get the details of the events through dialogue after the fact.  We don’t really see any of the mummy attacks.  We actually don’t really even get to see the mummy walking around.  There are a few quick glimpses in the coffin, but that’s about it.  And surprisingly enough, the story is wrapped up completely with no “will the mummy actually come alive again” type cliffhanger ending.  You could almost argue that there’s no definitive proof that the mummy did in fact come alive and start killing people.  Like I said, a lot of the eyewitness testimony is coincidental and hearsay.  Doyle leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks however he wants.

It’s an interesting story to read from the perspective of that this will influence the “creeping mummy” horror genre for so many years to come.  I’m glad I included it here, even if it isn’t the most exciting story I’ve ever read.  I’m a fan of Doyle and was glad to be able to include him in this year’s AWESOME-tober-fest.

In 1990, Lot 249 would be adapted as one of the chapters in the Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.  The adaptation in that movie would be written by Michael McDowell who also wrote the movie Beetlejuice and the movie novelization for Clue: The Movie.  It would star a very young Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and Christian Slater.


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