The Mummy on Screen: Orientalism and Monstrosity in Horror Cinema

by Basil Glynn (2020)

- Mummy films -- History and criticism.

The Mummy is one of the most recognizable figures on screen and is as established in the popular imagination as virtually any other monster, yet the Mummy has until now remained a largely overlooked figure in critical analysis of the cinema. In this new study, Basil Glynn explores the history of the Mummy film, uncovering lost and half-forgotten movies along the way, revealing the cinematic Mummy to be an astonishingly diverse and protean figure with a myriad of on-screen incarnations. In the course of investigating the enduring appeal of this most 'Oriental' of monsters, Glynn traces the Mummy's development on screen from its roots in popular culture and silent cinema, through Universal Studios' Mummy movies of the 1930s and 40s, to Hammer Horror's re-imagining of the figure in the 1950s, and beyond.

Death is Only the Beginning: Unravelling the Mummy on Screen

Section 1: The Mummy in the West and Western Cinema

1. The Creature's Features: Moulding the Mummy and the Mummy Movie
The Oriental Mummy as Western Projection
The Mummy Genre: Interest and Disinterest

2. The Mutating Mummy: From Ancient Artefact to Modern Attraction
Mummy Medicine: An Egyptian Prescription
The Mummy as Memento: A Collectible Corpse
The Mummy as Public Attraction: Exhumed, Examined and Exhibited

Section II: The Mummy in Literature, on Stage and the Silent Screen

3. On the Page and Stage: The Mummy Movie's Literary and Theatrical Influences
The Mummy's Tome: A Body of Literature
The Rediscovery of Ancient Egypt: A Pharaoh to Remember
The Mummy's Literary Life: Electrifying Tales!
Romance and the Mummy: Amorous Archaeologists and Comely Corpses
Literature's Monstrous Mummies: Dread, Despair and Doyle
The Empire Strikes Back: Stoker's Au Revoir to the Voyeur Archaeologist
Playing Dead: The Mummy in the Theatre

4. Preserved on Film: The Silent Mummy of Early Cinema
Egypt and the Cinema: Monoliths, Mesmerism and Mummies
The 'Mummy Complex' and the Preservative Nature of Film
The First On-Screen Mummies: Short-lived Moments of Horror in the
Trick Film
Winding People Up: Pretend Mummies and Mummy Mix-ups in Silent Comedies
Mummy Dearest: The Mummy as Romantic Character
Tomb Raiders: Egypt and Early Horror
Teutonic Terrors: The First Mummy Horror Movies
Grave Danger: Tutmania, the Curse and the Death of the Silent Mummy

Section III: Universal Studios and the Mummy of the 1930s and 1940s

5. The Mummy (1932): Overcoming the Silent Treatment
'The Mummy:' Art Horror or Production Line Horror?
The Delicate Horror of 'The Mummy:' A Shudder not a Shriek!
A Dichotomized Damsel: A 1920s/1930s Eastern/Western Woman
A Real Lady-Killer: “The Mummy” as Gothic Romance
The Mummy and the Nubian: Yellow Peril and Black Brute

6. The 1940s Mummy Film: A Decade of Decay
The Mummy Returns: The 1940s Mummy as Cadaverous Copy
More than the Sum of Its Parts: Innovation and the 1940s Mummy
'The Mummy's Hand' (1940): Reinventing the Mummy
'The Mummy's Tomb' (1942): A Memorably Murderous Mummy
Lon Chaney Jr.: Cursing the Mummy!
The Mummy in America: Fear and Roaming in New England
“The Mummy's Ghost (1944):” Escaping Bandaged Bondage
“The Mummy's Curse (1944):” The Female Mummy Returns
The Demise and Rise of the Mummy: To Buffoon and Back Again

Section IV. Hammer Studios and Beyond: The Mummy of the 1950s-Present

7. Hammer's Resurrection of the Mummy: Sex and Digs and Wrap and Roll
Show Me the Mummy: Realism with Restraint in 'The Mummy'
Culture Clash: The Mummy's Case and the Aftermath of Suez

8. Wrapping up the Mummy: The Last 60 Years


[ToC + Preview:]

Dr Basil Glynn is a Senior Lecturer in Film and Television at Middlesex University, London, UK.


“The mummy has long been neglected in horror criticism as a stiff and lifeless movie monster. But /The Mummy on Screen/ finds a beating heart beneath the bandages. With exhaustive research and deft analysis, Basil Glynn lifts the shroud on the mummy and finds a fascinating and malleable monster whose mute body nonetheless speaks volumes about the Orientalist imagination.”
–Andrew Scahill, Assistant Professor of English, University of Colorado Denver, USA.

“If the Mummy has enjoyed considerably less critical attention or regard than its fellow movie undead, Basil Glynn rectifies that neglect in this persuasive reappraisal, tracing the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet in an authoritative and illuminating study of an enduring and deceptively versatile movie monster.”
–Leon Hunt, Senior Lecturer in Film and TV Studies, Brunel University, UK.

“Glynn not only shows us the origins of the shambling terror … he takes us on an intellectually thrilling tour of the orientalist assumptions western audiences bring to the fictional mummy. Glynn will make you wonder why you ever cared so much about zombies and vampires in this accessible and brilliant examination of a truly terrifying monster that, until now, has never been given its due. Beware the mummy's curse! But read this book anyway.”
– W. Scott Poole, Professor of History, College of Charleston, USA *and author of *Monsters in America *and* Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror.

“Glynn's observation that the Mummy has 'stalked . . . its way through the movies, largely unappreciated by critics, academics and cultural commentators' is an astute, if unfortunate one. Just as the Mummy is often without voice in the cinema, the same may largely be said of its presence in academic literature. Glynn's book isn't just welcome: it's essential. The Mummy, as Glynn points out, is perhaps the cinema's most lucrative yet (paradoxically) unappreciated teratological figure. /The Mummy on Screen's/ legibility and wealth of research will make it indispensably useful. Undergraduate students will love it-graduate students will appreciate its accessibility; professors will wish they had written it.”
– John Edgar Browning, Georgia Institute of Technology, *author and editor of* Zombie Talk: Culture, History, Politics, The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker*, and *Dracula in Visual Media,

“The time has come to understand and embrace the Mummy's ongoing cultural relevance. Glynn unwraps the archetypal Mummy's relentless trajectory from ancient artefact to modern attraction!”
–Victoria McCollum, Lecturer in Cinematic Arts, Ulster University, Northern Ireland.


Glynn, Basil
The Mummy on Screen: Orientalism and Monstrosity in Horror Cinema.
London / New York / Oxford / New Delhi / Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 240 p., ill., xii,
ISBN 9781788314084 (hb., GBP 76,50)
ISBN 9781350129382 (epub, GBP 73,44)
ISBN 9781350129375 (pdf, GBP 73, 44)
[Bibl. refs.]