The Best Mummy Movies of All Time

The Scariest and Funniest Movies Featuring the Bandaged Monster

Though undead mummies attacking the living have been depicted in literature since the 19th century, the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 and the so-called "curse" on his artifacts led to increased popularity of stories about ancient Egyptian mummies rising from the grave. It was no surprise that film followed the "King Tut" pop culture craze several years later once horror films became popular.

Mummies have made great movie monsters ever since, including in Universal's latest version, 2017's The Mummy. Here are seven prior movies featuring mummies that audiences have enjoyed for years.

01
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The Mummy (1932)

The Mummy
Universal Pictures

Universal Studios decided to continue its successful series of horror films after Frankenstein and Dracula (both 1931) with The Mummy. Horror icon Boris Karloff -- who had already played Frankenstein's Monster the year before -- played Imhotep, an evil ancient Egyptian priest who rises from the dead when his grave is disturbed and pursues a woman whom he believes is the reincarnation of his ancient love.

Curiously, though this film established the popular cinematic image of a lurching bandaged mummy (which is featured on the film's posters), Karloff only appears in that guise for a few minutes in the beginning of the film.

The Mummy was a box office success, though not as popular as Universal's movies about Frankenstein, Dracula, and (later) Wolf Man. Still, the success inspired Universal to continue making mummy movies throughout its history.

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The Mummy's Hand (1940)

The Mummy's Hand
Universal Pictures

Instead of making a direct sequel to The Mummy as it did with its other monster movies, Universal waited a few years and created a new series with 1940's The Mummy's Hand. Still, The Mummy's Hand tells a similar story with about an evil ancient Egyptian priest named Kharis (played by Tom Tyler) stalking an archaeologist for disturbing his tomb. Owing to the popular image of Karloff as a bandaged mummy in the original, The Mummy's Hand featured the monster in this form much more than its predecessor movie did and firmly established the concepts that most people think of when it comes to movie mummy monsters.

The popularity of The Mummy's Hand led to three sequels -- The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost (1944), and The Mummy's Curse (1944). Horror movie favorite Lon Chaney, Jr. played Kharis in all the sequels.

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Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy
Universal Pictures

When the popularity of horror movies began to run its course, Universal got more mileage out of the material by featuring the famous comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello against the monsters, first in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), then in Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), and finally in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955).

The two comedians play a pair of Americans who run afoul of a resurrected mummy named Klaris and a cult devoted to him.

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The Mummy (1959)

The Mummy (1959)
Hammer Films

In the late 1950s, the British film studio Hammer Film Productions remade many of the classic Universal monster movies in color. After  successes with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), Hammer next turned to The Mummy. Horror movie icon Christopher Lee portrayed the monsters in all three of these films.

An archaeologist (Peter Cushing) finds himself up against the revived mummy of an evil ancient Egyptian priest named Kharis after his father accidentally animates the beast. In addition, an Egyptian man discovers how to control the mummy for his own gain.

Hammer's The Mummy was considerably more graphic than the 1932 and 1940s originals and combined elements from all the films of the earlier series. The studio made three more mummy films: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964), The Mummy's Shroud (1967), and Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971).

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The Monster Squad (1987)

The Monster Squad
Tri-Star Pictures

Tri-Star Pictures combined the fun of Abbott and Costello's monster comedies with the adventure of The Goonies with The Monster Squad, a horror comedy that pitted a group of young monster movie fans against a group of monsters led by Count Dracula. One of Dracula's minions is the Mummy, played by Michael MacKay -- an actor known for playing many costumed roles because of his slight build.

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The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (1999)
Universal Pictures

With 1999's The Mummy, Universal attempted to turn its long-dormant Mummy franchise into a summer blockbuster action-adventure film. The gamble worked -- The Mummy was a huge success, grossing $400 million worldwide.

Brendan Fraser stars as the Indiana Jones-like Rick O'Connell and Rachel Weiz stars as Egyptologist Evie Carnahan. They discover a lost Egyptian city, but accidentally awake an ancient Egyptian priest named Imhotep and his army of the dead.

The Mummy was followed by two sequels -- The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) -- as well as a spinoff The Scorpion King (2002), which itself was followed by three direct-to-video sequels.

Bubba Ho-Tep
Vitagraph Films

Phantasm creator Don Coscarelli wrote and directed this cult classic starring fan favorite actor Bruce Campbell as an elderly Elvis Presley who switched places with an impersonator shortly before that impersonator died. To make the film even more ridiculous, it features Elvis battling against an ancient Egyptian mummy who begins killing the residents at Elvis' nursing home. Oh, and Elvis' sidekick is a man who claims he is John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) who escaped assassination by undergoing treatment to turn him into an African American man. Bubba Ho-Tep is a wild, but funny, twist on the mummy movie genre. More »