Vaudeville Rules

There’s a strictly enforced system in Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (’55). Old-school mummies kill their victims by strangling them, but whenever Klaris the mummy (Eddie Parker) comes up behind Lou Costello, he can only stand 12 inches behind him with his arms out. When Costello takes a step, Klaris takes a step…but he can’t strangle Costello. He’s only allowed to give him a mummy bear hug. Then again Klaris couldn’t be too toothless. I’m presuming that director Charles Lamont told Parker to make a scary noise every so often. Parker: “What kind of noise?” Lamont: “I don’t know. Some kind of growl.” Parker: “A Wolfman growl?” Lamont: “Of course not. A dead man’s growl..filtered through tana leaves, whatever…the roar of dessicated centuries and ancient pyramids and dry-mouth.” Parker: “Dessicated?” Lamont: “Just don’t sound like the Wolfman.” And so Parker came up with “yaaawwwhrrrrr!”

  • VR

    Never gets old. Buddy Hackett as Lou Costello.

  • Mr. F.

    Disappointed that Parker didn’t try to mimic David Dao.

  • Dave Billet

    The Universal Mummy had to be the least frightening of all monsters. First he was super slow most victims had to act sacred stiff or fall backwards and let the mmmy catch up. secondly the mummy was so dessicated that one could crush him into dust. Karloff got over in the original on the strength of his personality and Karl Freund’s direction and cinematography. In all the sequels the Mummy was more of a henchman for the high priest or whatever.

    • Dakkar

      The first Mummy movie has a wonderful, dream-like quality to it. (Helped in no small part by the use of a haunting portion of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake over the opening credits, having been used to similar effect in Dracula, the year before. Leemmle apparently knew a good thing when he heard it.) I love the conceit that Imhotep needn’t even kill his first victim—simply seeing the mummy perambulating around drives him insane.

      It’s the third movie in the series that boggles my mind. Sure, the second movie, The Mummy’s Hand, reduces the new mummy, Kharis (buried alive for more-or-less the same sacrilege as the first—apparently there was a lot of fooling around between high priests and princesses in ancient Egypt), to little more than the shambling version of an upright attack dog. But then, two years later, The Mummy’s Tomb comes along, thirty years have passed (though the fashions and the automobiles remain the same), it uses over ten minutes of its 61 minute run-time to recap the prior film, and then Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey) uses Kharis to systematically kill off anyone lucky enough to survive the prior film—when they could’ve easily survived by (a) walking away briskly and/or (b) not heading into any dead-end streets.

      • Matt of Sleaford

        The first Mummy is one of my favorite Universal films. Like you say, very odd and creepy. And Karloff is aces, as always. “I dislike to be touched. An eastern prejudice.”

  • hupto

    The question must be asked: Why were you watching this in the first place?