Deep Blue Sea, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park blended together to inform my opinion of the ‘adventure’ subgenre of action, where we travel to a wonderful location and run away from monsters. The Mummy movies are easily the worst of the bunch, and yet they contain and illustrate all the elements I so love from the subgenre better than any.
If you could’ve been there to monitor how the neighborhood kids used to play, picking up sticks (guns) and going on these adventures, you’d notice how dying was the best most funnest part. Not only that, but that each death was unique. While the settings came from the wildest realms of children’s imaginations (it was typically Deep Blue Sea-related*), that part came from The Mummy films.
What I’ve appreciated about those two movies from the start is that there are unique kills (until the sequel), whether one is taken out by the Anubis, those pygmy mummies, a crowd of worshipers, or most dastardly, those scarabs, the culture of Ancient Egypt is perverted to a highly entertaining and grotesque end (Sommers, even with Van Helsing, pushed that PG-13 rating).
You see it all the time. To demonstrate how deadly or dangerous this new foe is, someone must be sacrificed. That’s somehow, against all odds, part of the adventure. It’s that bestiary of villainous elements. All kinds of cool stuff is gonna chase you down hallways. I love the pygmys, the Anubises are great, when those mummies scream and the jaws drop down — one of my favorites is the Scorpion King, an exemplar of bad turn-of-the-century CGI.
I do like Returns better, even though it is worse. The first one has too many mean jump scares, and the second one is more creative. It would have to be, because it’s the same plot. I never saw Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, primarily because it looked like it wasn’t gonna be The Mummy Returns Again.
I want the desert, I want the Brendan Frasier doing his best Indiana Jones, I want the monsters. These two movies represent what I love most about adventure, and honestly, they represent the height of the fantasy genre for me.
*Obscure and forgotten for some, but we were kids when it came out. Big impact. You’ll hear from it again…