Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Screaming Mummy

My guess is, that this is the origin of the whole sequence of Mummy horror
stories. They all involve someone who was buried alive (or perhaps eviscerated
alive?) under some curse, factor in an illegal romance and ancient Egyptian
magic, with the Book of the Dead and talk of resurrection of the pharoah
being taken literally and some unidentified stuff called "Tanis leaves" always
play some role in this. Reincarnation of the wandering soul of an ancient
Egyptian figures in all this chaos.

So the first I read of this "screaming mummy" I thought, "yep, that's where all
those crazy Victorian and later horror writers and movies makers got the start
idea from." The guy was buried with a contorted scream on his face, bound,
eviscerated, in a plain coffin no name no nothing, which is a terrible curse 
to do to the dead, and wrapped in the hide of a sheep, which was to the 
Egyptians an unclean animal.

There was also a woman found in a similar condition. Not the same burial,
I think.

This link describes mummy horror stories, without mentioning this as the
inspiration. It seems there is one such horror story from ancient Egypt itself,
and some of the mummy horror stories predate the discovery of the 
Screaming Mummy. So perhaps I wasn't entirely correct. But it must have
played a major role in the development of the genre, since it would be an
obvious inspiration for some story hinging on a revivable mummy that was
buried alive under a curse.

The ancient Egyptian horror story, however, though it seems to involve a
mobile mummy who challenges the theft of the Book of Thoth, is not of 
this Hammer Films to Brendan Fraser epics type.


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