A real mummy, as opposed to the kind I write about herein.
Another installment in my “It’s not Halloween yet, but…” series.
I wasn’t surprised by the mediocre response to The Mummy (2017), Universal Pictures’ attempt to relaunch their monster franchise(s) and incorporate them into one giant cinematic universe. They had made baby steps toward uniting their monsters before, in films such as Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943) and House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945). But those were the days before cinematic universes were a Hollywood obsession, and some characters never managed to be incorporated. The Mummy was one such monster left out. What Universal doesn’t understand is that the best monster movies are like fables, self-contained and in a universe of their own, not Tom Cruise action films. Fables must be carefully built and illustrated. Tom Cruise movies are largely excuses for Cruise to look intense while things blow up.
If you have thought about monster movies, then you are dissatisfied with the ending of Universal Pictures’ 1940s Mummy series. True obsessives will remember that Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy (1955) doesn’t count – the mummy in that film is called “Klaris” instead of “Kharis,” which leaves The Mummy’s Curse (1945) as the end of the series – but then, true obsessives rule out Abbot & Costello in general.
Sensing a dearth of 1940s Mummy fanfic, my fevered brain produced this treatment toward a scenario for a film to complete the 1940s Mummy series, complete with notes on casting and setting. Insomnia does odd things to my imagination. For the sake of fantasy, I present this scenario as though it were to be made in 1945/46. For the sake of copyright, I refer to the Mummy only as “Mummy,” and the tana leaves which give the Mummy life in Universal’s films as “Leaf.”
THE MUMMY’S FATE
Lionel Atwill – Dr. Pembroke
Ralph Morgan – Detective Cabot
Frank Lackteen – High Priest Hafez
Lon Chaney Jr. – Mummy
Anne Nagel – Mae Pembroke, the Dr.’s niece
SETTING: Baltimore, MD (If that seems strange, remember that the previous two Mummy films were set in the Louisiana Bayou and Massachusetts.)
A druggist, closing up for the night, is visited by a mysterious figure, heavily bandaged and moving stiffly. The druggist knows him and says he cannot provide the rare drugs he wants. The bandages man grows angry and leaves. Out on the street we see him gesture to someone off-screen. A shadowy figure, limping and ominous, breaks down the door and kills the druggist.
Scene fades to a college classroom. Professor Pembroke is lecturing re: prolonging life. Through the use of certain chemicals, prolonging life, or even restoring life to the dead, is possible. After lecture, Pembroke’s niece Mae chats with him a second.
Detective Cabot comes on, asks if Pembroke will consult on a murder case. Pembroke has been of use to the police before. At the crime scene: stolen drugs, man throttled, curious dusty handprints on the corpse. Cabot points out that drugs taken are some very rare items which Pembroke has written about. Pembroke knows of no other scientist doing any research with those chemicals, and agrees to consult.
Pembroke has a lab at his home, outfitted in true Universal mad scientist fashion, with electrical machines rented from Kenneth Strickfaden, test tubes, and a large operating table. The bandages man from the first scene arrives, and introduces himself as Hafez, a High Priest of a secret, ancient sect. Haze asks for advice on certain arcane chemical processes. He brings out the Leaf, and explains its special properties.
Pembroke: Why, the action of these leaves in solution could keep a body alive through incredible hardships.
Hafez: Even through mummification, and the passing of century after century.
Pembroke: It’s almost…immortality.
Hafez has come to Pembroke in dire need. The Leaf tree has been extinct since ancient times, and the supply of them is nearly gone. He is searching for a synthetic alternative, and has come to Pembroke because of his knowledge on the subject. Pembroke is curious. He correctly guesses that Hafez has been experimenting on himself, but he suspects that Hafez is not the true subject of the research. Hafez has no choice; he brings out the Mummy. A little humor can be worked in as Pembroke steps up to the Mummy to examine him, only to be met by a baleful stare; after an anxious moment, Pembroke puts a stethoscope to the Mummy’s chest, and relaxes. Pembroke agrees to help find an artificial Leaf fluid. What they don’t know is that Mae has come home and is watching through a crack in the door, fascinated and aghast.
But Hafez and the Mummy have other agendas as well. They break into a nearby museum, steal the Princess’s mummy, killing museum guards in the process. They bring Ananka’s mummy to Pembroke’s lab. Mae takes Pembroke aside and urges him to refuse them, but Pembroke has a mad scientist’s obsession with his work. He urges Mae to stay out of sight, and observe.
Pembroke and Hafez try to bring the Princess to life, but her mummy has badly decayed, and reanimates in terrible pain. Pembroke and Lackteen struggle, as the Mummy is frantic to try and help the Princess. Pembroke euthanizes the Princess, and is almost killed by the Mummy, but Mae bursts in and intervenes. The Mummy cannot bring himself to kill a woman. It might be possible to bring the Princess back again, but more research must be done and more drugs obtained.
Hafez and the Mummy go to steal drugs, but Hafez is weak from experimenting on himself. An alarm is tripped, and Hafez is shot dead by police as robbery gets complicated. The Mummy gets away. Pembroke continues to work, convinced he is on the verge of discovering serum. He denies knowing Hafez when police come around (they suspect a connection with the pharmacy murder), but he has deep reservations about bringing the Mummy to full health. Mae calls Inspector Cabot, confides in him.
At last, Pembroke has succeeded, combining data from his own and Hafez’s research to produce three vials of the synthetic Leaf fluid, but the Mummy must not drink too much! One vial will restore the Mummy to full strength; two would be dangerous, and three catastrophic. The Mummy tries synthetic Leaf serum and regains full movement in his body. Mae, sensing disaster, phones for the police. The Mummy demands more and runs amok, attacking Pembroke and taking the second vial from him. Mae grabs the third vial and leaves the lab by the back door, which opens on a slope up to a clifftop overlooking the sea. The Mummy strides after her, furious.
The Mummy chases Mae up to cliff – she has no escape except over the cliff. Then the Mummy slows his pace, stumbles and totters.
Mae: What’s happening? (looks at vial) The synthetic serum is flawed. It’s wearing off!
The Mummy falls, holding himself off the ground on one elbow, the other hand outstretched, pleading for the last of serum.
Mae: What would happen if I gave you the serum? There is no more, and you’ll get no more help from my uncle – if you haven’t killed him already. The Princess is dead. (Mummy pounds the path with his fist in frustration) Don’t you see you have completed your task? You have protected her to the end. It’s time for you to join her in the afterlife.
The Mummy hangs his head, then raises it, points to the vial, and makes a sweeping gesture. Mae nods and throws the vial over the cliff. The Mummy rolls onto his back, covering his face with both hands in despair.
The police arrive, led by Detective Cabot. They pick up Dr. Pembroke, who is not dead, just bruised, and they hasten out the door and up the path – and stop dead in amazement. Mae is sitting on the ground, the Mummy’s head in her lap. She is speaking quietly to him.
Mae: Rest. Be at peace. The Gods of Egypt will forgive you, and reward you for your centuries of faithful service. Sleep now. It’s over.
She looks soulfully up into the camera, and The End title appears.