With a plate of chimichangas and potato chips, I’m scrunching down on the sofa to watch one of my old Universal Pictures horror movies. This time, it’s 1932’s The Mummy starring Boris Karloff.
During an archeological dig in Egypt, some archeologists, who are supposed to be smart, accidentally bring the mummy Imhotep back to life. Even as a child, this premise annoyed me. How the hell do you accidentally read a life giving spell? Think about it. Everyone in the vicinity is alive and kicking, so reading the scroll of Thoth is obviously going to bring something dead back to life. Come on guys, get a clue, and just don’t do it.
Oh, but they do and Imhotep is understandably grouchy, considering he’s been dead for 4,000 years, so he scares one of the archeologists insane and shuffles off looking for his lost love.
When I was a kid, I thought that everyone in Egypt lived in pyramids and most families there had a pet sphinx. It has remained a mythical place that I’ve wanted to visit all my life. Well, except for this year. Right now, I think of Egypt and instantly envision guys with bushy mustaches and machine guns. Things have gotten a little “KILL THE FOREIGN DEVIL!” lately and I don’t really see myself exploring ancient landmarks so much as dodging bullets and trying to survive long enough to find sanctuary in our embassy there.
But the older I get, the less likely I’ll go because of the heat. It gets hot in Egypt. Really incredibly hot. So hot that if you don’t have a decent idea of what kind of precautions to take, your afternoon walk in the desert can easily turn into your last few hours of life. The sun tends to reflect right back off the desert, magnifying the already hot temperature. Yeah, Egypt is pretty much a microwave oven full of sand and scorpions.
And yet, thousands of years ago, people managed to take root there even though they didn’t have air conditioners. Instead, they went swimming in the Nile river, where they were subjected to crocodile attacks and terrible overused puns. As far back as 4500 BC, saying “looks like you’re in DA NILE” was considered stupid and irritating, and during most ancient dynasties it was grounds for immediate execution. In fact, it was probably the real reason why Imhotep got himself mummified.
In the movie, Imhotep is trying to convince everybody that he’s a normal Egyptian. That‘s gotta be hard, considering he‘s all wrinkled and has been dead for thousands of years. Death is the kind of stink you just can’t get rid of.
But nobody seems to notice and the movie rolls on. I‘m thinking that the history of horror movies probably began in Ancient Egypt. It all started when a bunch of people said to themselves “Hey, those mummified corpses we keep around everywhere are actually kind of creepy,” and then they performed a play about mummies coming to life and killing ancient Egyptian teenagers.
Unfortunately, the performers were then put to death for blasphemy, and the horror movie genre went underground until the Victorians started making up stories about badass vampires. Actually, it’s kinda sad what’s happened with vampire movies lately. What was once a vicious blood sucking monster has now become an imaginary gay boyfriend for goth girls.
Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Mummy. The big four. I’ll stick to the classics, thank you very much, and you can keep all your zombies, slasher flicks, and torture porn.
Torture porn is for people who like horror movies, but whose sociopathic inclinations unfortunately prevents them from understanding basic human emotions or characterizations. So, things like plot, characters and expensive set pieces are mostly unnecessary, as all you really need is some dude strapped to a chair for 90 minutes while people cut his body parts. This kind of movie is called edgy.
People are usually hesitant to criticize the bad taste or the lack of plot or characters in these movies for fear of their friends finding out that they are not edgy enough. This makes sense, since only total squares don’t enjoy watching prolonged, realistic portrayals of innocent people being tortured to death.
I’m pretty sick of modern horror movies. I’m tired of characters getting raped and eaten by deformed rednecks. I’m also tired of people setting up their bathrooms in advance so that the shower curtains are always menacingly drawn closed.
Look, let’s be honest here. Modern horror movies always inevitably start off with a bunch of happy, normal, attractive people with lots of friends. There’s a very good reason for this.
It’s because the average horror movie fan sees this and feel anxious, as they are being confronted with visual confirmation that there are actually well-adjusted people out there that enjoy living. This tension is then pleasurably released when the happy people all die in horrible ways. This makes the horror fans feel better. Sure, they might be 45-year-old virgins whose mothers are nagging them to move out of the basement, but at least they didn’t just get stabbed to death after finding their naked cheating girlfriend impaled on the sharpened femur of their best friend.
Nope, I’ll stick to The Mummy. It is rated as the best horror movie of all time by, astonishingly, 100% of movie fans* and right now, things are wrapping up as Imhotep has found a woman who resembles his ancient lover and he tries to make her all mummy-like and stuff. But before he can, she prays and a statue of Isis magically shoots a beam at him and he turns into bones and ash.
* Sample poll of myself.