It started when I was 10, when my loved ones all crowded in my grandfather's flat to watch the then new-ish movie on VCD. There were murders, dead bodies coming back to life, and a monster which could command sand into a huge version of its face, big enough to swallow a plane! It was completely terrifying. I couldn't wait to watch it , and it has been basically playing on loop, in the background of my life, ever since.
The plot of the 1999 film is pretty straightforward. Anck-Su-Namun immediately takes her own life, with the understanding that Imhotep will bring her back from the dead. However, before he could, he's put to death and buried with a curse: that if anyone should dare release himhe'll return as an all-powerful mummy. Fast forward to Egypt in the 1920s, where archaeological digs are all of the rage after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb... you can see where it's going.
The cinematic result is an absolute joy. While technically it is a picture of a 1932 movie of the exact same title from Karl Freund, the manager behind the classic Dracula with Bela Lugosi, The Mummy of 1999 is very much its own thing: comedy and terror and adventure all perfectly balanced.
Brendan Fraser, as rakish American adventurer Rick O'Connell, swings seamlessly from action hero to comic lead. The three of them spend the film getting into unnatural scratches, fighting baddies both dead and living, and rebounding one-liners off each other professionally and continuously. Arnold Vosloo performs the titular Mummy as equally sinister and tragic without ever undermining the humor of the movie.
The older I get, the more I realise that they captured lightning in a bottle for this film and, to almost the same degree, with its sequel The Mummy Returns. It's superbly written, perfectly cast and as they walk the difficult line between terror and bizarre comedy, somehow everybody is tonally on the same page. Never is the infrequent collision of great luck and ability at The Mummy more apparent than when you encounter the abject failure of this third movie in the franchise,'' The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. It's a fantastic concept in theory and most of the core cast are inside, doing their very best. And remove Weisz, amplify the role of the annoying son and toss in a couple of yetis (if I were joking), and the magic is gone. Not even Michelle Yeoh can save it. It's abominable. Leave it out of the rewatch cycle. Pretend it does not exist.
The thing about seeing the same movie so many times starting from age 10 is that it has grown up with me. I don't just love The Mummy for the nostalgia of it all -- it's an objectively excellent film -- but memories of the various times I've watched it do operate just like a golden thread through my life. I'm 10 watching it with my extended family. I am 14 and it is playing on the TV of my buddy's living room as she, her mother and I drink milkshakes, and as time passes, that afternoon arrives to reside in my head as a representation of school summer holidays. I'm 17 and putting the DVD of The Mummy Returns to the participant and my dad asks what movie it is. I tell him it is the sequel to The Mummy. "Then shouldn't it be called. . .The Daddy?" He replies with a laugh.
The Mummy is the best rewatch film -- both for its comfort in its familiarity and at the newest details you enjoy on each seeing, even the 100th. Horror provides way to humour. Different jokes become less funny. Villains become less black and white. I'm going to be watching this film for the rest of my life.