Look, we need to do some major work to save our Mummies.
I thought that The Mummy did a decent enough job showing how a mummy can be frightening by amplifying both its undead qualities as well as its supernatural powers. The Karloff, shuffle-strangle-moan version can’t really work in today’s world.
Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies have maintained their relevancy. With the multiple Frankenstein-derivative projects in the works, the reanimated dead will get a boost. This leaves some of the fringe monsters, classic icons of the first golden age of Horror, to wither.
How can we save the Mummy?
At first, I think maintaining its supernatural properties are key; however, their abilities should be appropriate to the character. And that is where your Mummy is from and who they are. Not every mummy can be a high priest or prince – shit, son. That just doesn’t work. And this brings to the next point – Avoid Egypt.
It’s like making Vampires from Romania or any Transylvania-derivative. Mummification occurred all around the world. And wherever your mummified remains are from, their powers should reflect that.
Make it a ghoul, where it replenishes itself by stealing the body parts of the unsuspecting. I think a decent Ghoul movie might work, giving it a Jack Ripper fear if there was some ambush predator stalking people in a crowded metropolitan area. Mummies will have to be ambush predators, since they’re solitary. Zombies rely on numbers; werewolves have the natural predatory skills. Mummies need to lie in wait and BAM.
Where The Mummy movie and what our recovery efforts differ is that we need to have a modern setting. Having Brendon Fraser fight off some Egyptian at the turn of the 20th century doesn’t cut it. We need to have a modern setting to maintain the emotional connection. Placing things in the past makes it too much of an adventure film than horror.
Give the mummy a basic goal. Jason or Freddy didn’t want to take over the world.
Avoid the toilet paper look. There are some ways you can make mummified materials look spooky and frightening. But c’mon.
Furthermore, make the thing smart. Zombies can be dumb. Mummies should have a brain. Give them speech, give them motive. Give them personality.
You want to make the Mummy scary? Make it a reanimated killer in a city with a dense population. Give it terrible resolve. And there you go. You’re welcome.