So there I am, working on a project and the thought hits me, ‘mummy movies are zombie movies… right?’
When first thinking about writing this, I was going to limit mummy movies to the Universal monster movies, the Hammer horror movies, The Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser, the newest with Tom Cruse and… sure why not, Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy.
However, I found that unfair, seeing I had no concept in limiting zombie movies. Both mummy movies and zombie movies have been around since the dawn of movies, so there’s no reason not to think of all of them when forming an opinion on this.
I honestly can’t nail any of this down. Which is why I’m writing this. I want to get as many opinions on this as possible. Maybe I’m making this out to be something more than it is, but I think an argument can be made those mummy movies are a form of zombie movie subgenre. A subgenre of a subgenre if you will?
Let’s start with the fact that mummies are real and not fictional. The ancient Egyptians would put dead bodies through a process of embalming them, drying them out by removing all moisture. This was known as mummification.
I think it could be argued that zombies in general were created with this process in mind. However, I have no real information to back up that theory. That being said, zombie movies were not always like what we see today.
George A. Romero really locked down zombies and the rules have basically stuck to the ones he created in Night of the Living Dead. It’s because of this he’s seen as the father of zombie movies. Even though the word “zombie” is never uttered in the movie, it was implied.
That hasn’t always been the case though. White Zombie is considered the first zombie movie, it came out in 1932. In it, a voodoo master uses a magic potion to bring people back from the dead as zombies. They’re mindless, but they don’t walk around on their own per se, he controls them. They’re basically his unwilling slaves.
In The Mummy from 1959, from the Hammer horror line, Kharis is a mummy brought back to life and controlled to kill off the men that found the tomb of Princess Ananka. Much like a slave if you will.
If you look at the mummy from The Monster Squad, he shuffled around mindlessly, much like zombies were doing at that time in the 80s. By then Romero’s version of zombies was well into effect. It’s possible the mummy from that was influenced by Romero’s zombies.
Personally, I think you could call the zombie subgenre of horror a more umbrella term, even though mummy movies have been around for at least 30 years. Robbing Cleopatra’s Tomb came out in 1899. It was apparently only two minutes long and is considered a lost film.
In it, a man chops up the mummy of Cleopatra and then “produces a woman from a smoking brazier.” Not much else is said about it and being it’s such a short film, there’s probably nothing else to tell.
Oh God, taking pieces and putting them together to bring them to life? Is Frankenstein’s monster a zombie?
The main difference is mummies are known as such, because of the mummifications. Outside of that, just like zombies, they are dead people that are brought back to life and kill people.
In the newer Mummy movies, the mummies are in full control of themselves and aware of what they’re doing. I think an argument could be made that the newer movies are not so much zombie movies as the mummies themselves have such cognitive awareness.
Then again, we have movies like Army of the Dead, with “alpha” zombies that think on their own and are clearly in charge, much like from The Mummy movies… just without the magic.
I think it’s safe to say that the two horror subgenres started off much alike and have defiantly gone their own ways over time.
Let me know what you all think. I’m interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this. Maybe we can get this settled. What do you think? Are mummy movies zombie movies?