Continuing my Universal Classic Monsters marathon and exposing my wife to movies she probably would have been fine never watching, I turned to The original Mummy series, which ran for six films from 1932 to 1955. As I believe I have mentioned previously, I’ve always been a huge fan of Universal Classic Monsters. As a kid, I begged my parents for the DVD set – and before that I was collecting VHS tapes during the 90s (which had amazing box art by the way).
But, with all that said, I was never a fan of The Mummy. Even as a kid, I only watched this film once. I found it dull and disappointing. After all, I pictured a mummy as a monster in bandages, whereas the 1932 film sheds these after a single sequence. I remember referring to it as “watching a guy kill people through a mirror for an hour and a half.”
My interests have of course evolved since then, and I enjoy many movies now that I did not as a child. So I was curious to see how I would react to The Mummy watching it as an adult. To give you the short version: I think my eight-year old self had some good points.
Imagine living in colonial times, stepping off your ship and onto the new world. Out from the brush comes a tribe of people you have never seen before. They are mostly naked, wearing only the skins of animals. Their most advanced weapon is the bow and arrow. Compared to you, in your shining metal armor and with a musket in hand, they appear positively primitive. Clearly yours is the advanced race… or maybe they didn’t even have the horse until around 1600… maybe it has more to do with that.
This is why history matters when composing setting.
In today’s world, many writers start by writing fanfiction. For those who don’t know, fanfiction is original work based on/inspired by existing properties. It is amateur work (although one could make the argument that the expanded universe of something like Star Wars is simply professional fanfiction), written by fans for fans. On the surface, there is no merit to it. Authors will never be paid for their work. That said, it can be a value learning tool. A free workshop in a sense.
I wrote a lengthy fanfiction story for Avatar: the Last Airbender and I will attest to the value in what was a tremendous learning experience.