The Mummy from 1932



The Mummy from 1932 is another timeless, iconic horror character bought to life by Universal Studios. Boris Karloff turns in another legendary performance after “Frankenstein” the year before.



Boris Karloff - The Mummy 1932

Boris Karloff, billed as ‘Karloff the Uncanny’ in The Mummy from 1932.






Starring: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan and Arthur Byron.

Directed By: Karl Freund

Studio: Universal

Ratings: Internet Movie Data Base; 7.2/10 …Rotten Tomatoes; 93%

Our Rating; 7.8/10

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51PqJRMwsnL__SY355_The Mummy (1932). During a field expedition to Egypt in 1921, three archeologists discover and unearth an ancient mummy. After reading the hieroglyphs on his tomb,  they discover his name to be “Im-Ho-Tep”, a high priest, who’s apparently been buried alive for sacrilege! Also discovered with the body is the Scroll of Thoth which contains the ancient spell to bring the dead back to life.

That night, unbelieving in the potency of the ancient curse placed on the scroll’s casket, one of the researchers opens, and unwittingly reads aloud the mystical words of the parchment.


It Comes to Life!

It’s here we see Karloff as the ancient corpse come to life! It’s a brilliant yet very short sequence of early horror cinema as he faintly opens his eyes and begins to move his arms. We see his hand reach out to take back the scroll from the one who revived him, then his bandages trailing out the door as he roams out into the night. The young researcher goes hysterically insane after witnessing the mummy come to life!



Boris Karloff and Ralph Norton - The Mummy from 1932

Disappointingly, this scene never actually made the final cut!


Ten years pass and a new expedition led by the son of one of the original archaeologists, Sir Joseph Wimple, is about to finish up it’s unsuccessful dig when approached by a mysterious, enigmatic fellow named Ardath Bey…

This is again Karloff, the awakened mummy who’s now masquerading as someone who wants to help the team. He tells them of an incredible opportunity they have to discover the most sensational find since that of Tutankhamen.

His motives are not merely to offer the team guidance though, but to have them excavate the burial place of his past love, the princess Ankh-es-en-amon. They find the tomb and as requested by Ardath Bey, give the mummy and it’s treasures to the Cairo museum.

Being the one who showed them where to dig, Ardath Bey is allowed to stay after hours within the Museum. He begins at once to attempt to use the Scroll of Thoth to resurrect the mummy of his beloved princess.


A Case of Reincarnation?

Meanwhile, in another part of Cairo, the reincarnated likeness of the princess is drawn to the museum by the incantation of Ardath Bey. Once there, she’s found outside by Joseph Wimple and his son who have just locked up for the night. She’s taken back to their home and placed under the watchful eye of her doctor.

Ardath Bey comes calling in search of the scroll which was left at the museum after he was busted trying to perform his unholy rites. He see’s that Miss Grosvenor bears an incredible likeness to his ancient love and believes her to be her reincarnation. He begins to draw her to him through his hypnotic stare and spells.

His intention? …To kill her in order to mummify and resurrect her as his bride!


The Mummy from 1932

Karloff The Uncanny as ‘Ardath Bey’


This is a brilliant atmospheric slow-burner. A strong example of a less-is-more approach by legendary Cinematographer-turned Director, Karl Freund. The performance by Karloff being the highlight.

He plays his role very ominous, sinister and broodingly. His character’s inherent power is genuinely believable as he dominates his adversaries solely with his timeless, threatening stare.

During the most effective scenes of the film, he reaches out to his victims through a mysterious pool of water within his lair, to suffocate them with his ancient incantations.


Coming at a time when the public’s fascination with ancient Egypt had been stirred after the sensational discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. The Mummy was another horror hit for Universal.





Haven’t seen The Mummy from 1932? It’s certainly one to appreciate if your a fan of original classic horror. Please tell me your thoughts, or if you have any questions, please post them in the comment section below. Thanks very much for reading.



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  • Neil says:


    I am so glad I found your website on classic horror movies because I have always been a big fan of horror since I was a teenager.

    And with Halloween on it’s way, there is no better time to start planning my favourite horror movies to watch this year!

    I have watched this classic mummy movie several times now, and it’s one I’m adding to my top 10 list!


  • RuthM says:

    I have recently got into horror movies, well over the last 8 years as my husband is dead keen on them (see what I did there). So unintentionally, he has got me into them! But I have never watched this one, It’s pretty old. IS there any relation to the more recent film the mummy, as the storyline has some resemblance.. ish.. ?

    • admin says:

      Hey Ruth, thanks for your comment. Good to hear you’re getting into the horror genre (I liked your pun too! lolol). Like with anything there’s certainly a lot of low-grade stuff out there, but many majorly important and classic films as well.

      This original version of The Mummy is pretty old yes, but as with all the old classics…immortal! It was the first to introduce to us the idea of a living Egyptian mummy as a horror character. That’s why I find these films so important, because they gave us our very first cinematic encounter with such mythic and literary monsters.

      The 1999 remake is very loosely based on the original and also made by Universal. Some of the character’s names remain (or are similar) and the basic premise is there to a degree. Some obvious differences being the search for a lost Egyptian city, and the battling with the ten plagues of Egypt. This movie is more of an Indiana Jones style adventure film overflowing with CGI and special effects.

      The original was a much more somber, restrained, eerie piece centered around the obsessive desire of The Mummy for his ancient love.

      There is also a very good Hammer Horror production from 1959 starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Highly Recommended.


  • marcelg says:

    Hey that is really amazing. I had no idea that there was a The Mummy movie from back in the thirty’s.

    It pays to consider these though and check out the fantastic mysterious horrors that have come out in past decades.

    Especially around Halloween! Where can a person find these to watch?

    • admin says:

      Very glad to hear you’ve discovered this very cool classic horror through this site Marcleg! That really was my aim in creating this site. There are so many original classic horror films which many people just don’t know about!

      To watch the old originals like The Mummy from 1932, you can find some of them on YouTube. However, not all. There are heaps that are only available to buy on DVD.

      I’ve actually set up a Shop Page where I sell all the greatest classics from the 1920’s through to the 1950’s, through Amazon or eBay. I wanted to provide a place where people could find all the classic titles in one place.

      Thanks very much for your visit Marcleg…I hope you discover some more hidden gems. Jamie

  • LakanDula says:

    Interesting review, I haven’t been hooked on classical horror, but I have watched ’em with my cousins to tell ya right now, those old classical horror movies make a lot of today’s horror films look like Nick Jr. and Disney Playhouse. Though, since I do have the “timid reaction” to everything horror, including reading and watching, I’ll be watching only with friends or cousins.

  • Fra Havet says:


    I love your site, the background is great and your niche is flat out awesome!

    I can see that you have many interesting posts which I’m looking forward to reading through. Overall I think your site is excellent. What a brilliant niche! I’m sure there are plenty of classic horros movie fans out there. You can go far with this. You can collect “suverniers” from the films if possible, and sell them. Some people are willing to pay A LOT for that kind of merchandise I can imagine … Best of luck to you!

  • Khoifush says:

    Kind greetings Jamie,

    First off, I would like to say, what a wonderfully laid our theme that really parallels the atmosphere of the site’s content. Now onto the movie, I had always thought that the 1999 film, by Stephen Sommers, was the original Mummy movie. Am I wrong to say that this movie was based off of the movie that you have reviewed here? I myself thoroughly enjoyed the 1999 film and with the 1932 receiving better ratings, I’ll be sure to check out. Awesome review!

    • admin says:

      I appreciate your feedback Khoifush. Thank you!

      The 1999 film had little to do with the original 1932 movie. A couple of the characters’ names and location names were the same but that’s about it! There’s actually been quite a few versions before the 1999 film. The 1932 film reviewed here was followed by several sequels by Universal Studios. The Mummy’s Hand, The Mummy’s Tomb, The Mummy’s Curse and The Mummy’s Ghost. These were all released during the 1930’s and 40’s.

      Hammer Studios next released their classic color update in 1959. It was followed by 3 less successful titles through the 60’s and 70’s. After these came the latest films by Stephen Sommers.

      As you can see, The Mummy is a film/character that’s been through numerous ‘incarnations’ (pun intended!).

      The latest breaking news regarding The Mummy is that Universal has begun work on a big-budget remake of their original classic, this time staring Tom Cruise! Sounds like their putting a lot into it. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s a faithful adaptation of the dark, somber original and not too overloaded with unnecessary effects…we’ll see.

      Anyway Khoifush, I hope this has helped. Thanks very much for dropping by! Jamie.

  • Mr Pianoforte says:

    I love this movie! This is definitely one of the classics, as you described. There’s just something about older classic horrors that are different from the newer, more technologically savvy horrors these days. Maybe it’s the music, the better storylines or just longer ‘cut’ scenes. I don’t know haha. Great article, brought back good memories 🙂

  • Mia says:

    While I am definitely not a fan of modern horror, I do enjoy a good classic horror film. This is one I have not seen, although I do enjoy watching Boris Karloff in other movies. I really enjoyed your review of this movie, and will surely be adding it to my must-see list.

  • Julius says:


    I just recently discovered your website, and I’m glad that happened. I have always been fascinated by the horror genre. I really like old classic movies, even though they don’t have CGI and quality is no the best, but It’s just something about them that makes them good. I know that there are several remakes of this movie but I think that they are not as good. I’m going to watch it right now!

    Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Thanks very much for the visit and comment Julius! Hope you love The Mummy! This film definitely gets better and better with each viewing!

  • Evie says:

    Another great creepy movie. The picture of Boris Karloffs eyes showed how he could act creepy and scary without saying a word. There is just something thrilling about movies in black and white – there is so much more atmosphere. And this version is so much better than the 90s mummy which was all special effects and minimal acting skill

    • admin says:

      Wow I couldn’t agree more Evie! …Less Is More! EVERYTIME!! The atmosphere of black and white’s really is something special isn’t it! I’ve often tried to pinpoint what it is about them (especially b/w horror films) that really captivates…It’s the ATMOSPHERE, as you say!

      Thanks so much for your visit and comments and for your brilliant insight!


  • Cynical Pete says:

    I remember watching this on TV when I was a kid. OMG, I was terrified (this was a long time ago). A few days later I saw some bandages in a cupboard and nearly screamed. Nowadays kids would just laugh. An episode of Walking Dead has ten times the violence and gore. These old movies were frightening more for what they didn’t show I think.

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