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THE MUMMY RETURNS And Joyful Horror, SCOOBY-DOO, Clive Barker, And More
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The Bite #159
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THE MUMMY RETURNS And Joyful Horror, SCOOBY-DOO, Clive Barker, And More

May 04, 2021

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY

The Mummy Returns and Joyful Horror

By Ariel Fisher

Though they’ve been mostly labelled as action, adventure, and fantasy, make no mistake, The Mummy films — 1999’s bi-panic-inducing sensation The Mummy and its followup, The Mummy Returns — are horror films. Taking cues from their Boris Karlof-starring predecessor while evading its more xenophobic roots, these films are part of the Universal Classic Monster family, even if they’re not part of a larger cinematic universe. But the films’ inherent excitement and undeniable action-adventure overtones seem to overshadow their role as horror films, largely because we tend to forget that there can be joy in the genre.

While the 1932 film opted for more overt terror, the original story and script by Nina Wilcox Putnam, Richard Schayer, and John L. Balderston was designed as an attempt to mirror the concept and success of Dracula (1931) before it. The initial attempts at remaking The Mummy saw filmmakers like Clive Barker, Wes Craven, Mick Garris, and George A. Romero take a stab. Joe Dante was even connected at one point, vying for Daniel Day-Lewis to play the role of the brooding, titular mummy. Meanwhile, Stephen Sommers’ take on the terrifying Imhotep opted for more action, adventure, and comedy making it feel like the Universal Monster films crossed themselves with Indiana Jones.

The same is true of The Mummy Returns, celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. Many might argue they’re not horror “enough”, a reductive sentiment that frequently limits people let alone the art they create. The Mummy films are horror, though the genre is presented in an often overlooked way; they’re joyful.

This isn’t new. In fact, joyful horror has been around for some time. Arguably, Abbott and Costello had the market cornered on that front in 1948. But like the subjectivity of horror itself, the concept of what brings us joy is also a moving target that varies from person to person. Some find it in watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or the Saw franchise while others (read: me) find it in The Cabin in the Woods and Thirteen Ghosts. Whether it’s the glee you feel at the end of Shaun of the Dead, the non-stop laughs of Tucker and Dale vs Evil, or the unabashed merriment of Anna and the Apocalypse, there’s a place for joyful horror, even if it’s PG-13.

What The Mummy Returns has to offer is transformative and makes the material accessible across various age brackets. Where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was made for kids but was arguably way too scary for them (and helped create the PG-13 rating alongside Gremlins), The Mummy Returns comes with the right frights for the little ones and some wicked creature designs for the grown-up horror fans. What’s more is it’s exhilarating. Like its predecessor, it takes the largely xenophobic source material that capitalized on the fear of the Other and transforms it into a thirst for adventure. So while we’re flinching as mummies attack our heroes as they zip through London on a double-decker bus, we’re also relishing the very thought of what’s to come.

That’s exactly what The Mummy Returns has to offer. Just enough fright to get your heart pumping, but all of the adventure and excitement you can handle with a hefty helping of joy. That’s something we could all use a little more of right now.


Ariel Fisher is the editor of The Bite. She is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in FANGORIA Magazine, Rue Morgue, and Birth.Movies.Death.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image of the Week #159 - Gottmik Hellraiser Pinhead

We Have Such Sights To Show You

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13 finalist Gottmik posted this unbelievable take on Hellraiser’s Pinhead. Talk about slaying it!


TINY BITES

SCOOBY-DOO, CLIVE BARKER, AND MORE

A zombie’s work is never done. George A. Romero’s Twilight of the Dead is moving forward with the blessings of his family.

Mick Garris sat down with the inestimable Clive Barker on the latest episode of Post Mortem.

Delve into the history of some of horror’s scariest mermaids.

The Last Drive-In‘s Darcy the Mail Girl penned a piece on EC Comics film adaptations for FANGORIA.

William Gibson’s Alien³ script is being turned into a book.

Certified Forgotten looks at Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School and how it introduced a generation to the Universal monsters.

Daily Dead revisited Grave Encounters in an in-depth piece including interviews with the filmmakers.

Looking to get into the Halloween spirit a little early this year? Rue Morgue suggests some merch that will bring that trick or treat spirit into your home.

Get a small taste of District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming film Demonic over at Gayly Dreadful.

A trailer for the fourth and final season of Netflix’s Castlevania has been released.

Japan’s Godzilla museum is open and you can watch people zipline into the Kaiju’s gaping mouth.


THINGS WE LOVE

Go To Hell For Some Good Reads

Author Grady Hendrix’s book Paperbacks From Hell chronicled some of the most bizarre and outlandish genre novels of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Valancourt Books has 11 of these hard-to-find books and you can order them individually or in a bundle.


HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS

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Chris Baugh Discusses The Folkloric Influences of “Boys from County Hell”

New on Shudder in May 2021: Horror Movies & Shows Streaming

Peabody Awards Nominees Include ‘La Llorona’


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