Friday, 5 December 2014

Funko POP Universal Monsters: The Mummy

Boris Karloff – a horror legend if ever there was one. Almost 50 years after his death, the image of him as Frankenstein’s Monster continues to dominate popular culture. Universal must be making more on merchandise than they ever did on the movie itself, going off the sheer amount of stuff that’s been produced in the decades that have followed.

But Frankenstein’s Monster wasn’t the only role Karloff was famous for – another was Imhotep, the titular character of the Mummy. Released in 1932 to cash in on the craze for all things Egyptian following the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, The Mummy was an immediate hit. Imhotep never achieved quite the same iconic status as Frankenstein’s Monster, but he remains an important part of the movie monster pantheon. The character also got a revival of sorts in 1999, when a remake (or re-envisioning or reboot, whatever you’d prefer to call it) of The Mummy was released, and became a tremendous hit.  

The original is not a perfect film, but it evokes a dark mood that still manages to unsettle to this day. I first saw it when I was maybe 10 or 11, and found "old" things laughable as opposed to frightening. How did anyone ever find such things scary? Hokey and melodramatic in parts it may be, but The Mummy quickly disabused me of the idea of old stuff not being frightening . And even now, more than 80s years on, Boris Karloff’s makeup as the titular character in his coffin still holds up quite well – just look at a real mummy here and compare with the image below.   

Yet despite my fandom of The Mummy, I was a little dubious about the execution of this POP – the initial illustrations and then the promo photos made him look quite boring, with far too much grey, all seemingly of the same shade. While the finished product is not perfect, it’s certainly better than the initially released images appeared. While he’s still almost entirely grey (his sole flash of colour is his gold/bronze scarab ring), giving almost a black and white effect, it looks much better in person than in photos. Still, I think a darker wash over the bandages (and possibly the hair) would bring out some of those sculpted details nicely. Aside from this, my only complaint is that the paint on the tip of his nose was a little chipped in the box. Still, given that he's fairly monochrome, it doesn't really stand out. 

Imhotep has a mouth, which is unusual among POPs. The Creature and Dracula both have one, which makes sense for their respective designs, but I’m not sure it was necessary for Imhotep. I also feel like the addition of more wrinkles would have been a good idea, though that might have made the overall figure a little too detailed.   

Though I don’t know how likely it is, they could definitely do another series of Universal Monsters POPs. The Invisible Man and the Wolfman in human form are just two potential options, and one could be Imhotep in his more “human”, Ardeth Bay form, which is how he spends most of the movie. He’s still heavily wrinkled, looking like a walking desiccated corpse, but although the makeup is not as extreme, the effect is at times even more disconcerting than when he’s wrapped in bandages. 

This depiction of the Mummy is a pleasant surprise. He’s not my favourite Funko POP, and he pales in comparison with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but he’s nonetheless a lot of fun and turned out much better than anticipated. Highly recommended for vintage horror fans. 

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