In anticipation of Universal re-booting its mummy monster w/ Tom Cruise, it will be interesting to see which approach this film will take. (This article precedes The Mummy 2017 opening but Nerdist has the review here) Meaning, does this film take the Brandon Fraser approach or the classic gothic horror approach? The 1999 Brendan Fraser version is a solid film and enjoyable to watch. However, if this were 2001 and I operated a DVD rental store I would not shelve this film in the Horror section. I would place the rental along with films like Raiders of the Lost Ark in the action/adventure section. Of course in the digital age the likes of Netflix and Amazon can easily allow subscribers to search for it in either category. But in terms of what this blog is about the only context in which the 1999 Mummy film would be discussed would be how it is NOT a true horror film. Watching the 1999 version for the first time, though thoroughly enjoyable, did not evoke the same emotions as seeing the first Blair Witch, The Ring or The Conjuring.

 

Too Much CGI Can Kill The Mood for the Mummy, Vampires and other Monsters

The same can be said for some of the more recent Frankenstein films, or more specifically, 2014’s Dracula Untold. Not only are these recent monster films not horror they don’t even have the quality entertainment value that at least the Brendan Fraser mummy film provided. Dracula Untold seems to represent a current and  trending comic book sensibility in film-making. Dracula is portrayed less as a murderous monster but more of an ambiguously neutral tragic superhero forced by circumstances into villainous machinations. This is fine if you’re trying to establish a comic book series, but it cannot be experienced as a horror film. The experience in watching these films leaves you overwhelmed by CGI- as if you’re in an action-adventure video game rather than watching a realistic creepy story unfold.

This does not mean that a film must be genuinely scary for it to classify as horror. Most people will watch the original 1931 Frankenstein, never once be frightened, but understand that it is most definitely a film in the horror genre. Let’s face it, the last time a generation of filmgoers were actually frightened by any of the classic Universal Monsters was the first generation that  experienced them in movie houses in the 30’s and 40’s. Perhaps this is why when reboots of these monsters are made there seems to be an effort to explore some different angle, as if the director concedes that they can’t actually scare an audience with this traditional monster so why not take a different approach?

 

Keep Your Mummy, Or Any Other Classic Monster Gothic And You’ll Never Go Wrong

Taking a different approach away from horror was precisely what Francis Ford Coppola did not do when he directed 1992’s Dracula with Gary Oldman. Through presentation, mood and music Coppola was all-in in terms of presenting an authentic gothic horror film. Benecio del Toro’s The Wolfman also  went 100% percent gothic horror in the 2010 version of that monster reboot. Neither one of these films will actually frighten as much as the other quality horror films made today that do not have these classic monsters, but there is clearly a fun horror experience in watching these moody, gothic presentations that is very satisfying to horror movie fans. You would never watch Dracula Untold on Halloween, because it does not fit the mood of that season- it’s just not horror.

 

In previewing the trailer for the 2017 version of The Mummy, it unfortunately looks like as if they are taking the super villain action adventure approach rather than straight up horror. This is disappointing because of all the classic monsters that don’t really scare, the one with the most potential to creep people out would be a mummified corpse. There is definite potential there to make a creepy horror experience out of this monster that has not yet been attempted.

 

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