EYES OF THE MUMMY (1922) is a film in many ways a disappointment — we have Lubitsch, we have Emil Jannings, and we have Pola Negri, but we don’t have a great film. In his Lubitsch biography, Laughter in Paradise, Scott Eyman focuses harshly on a single moment when Jannings has considerable difficulties with his horse, wondering why on earth the shot wasn’t retaken or just excised. The conclusion is that Lubitsch didn’t care, that he lost heart at some point during this film.
The prospect of a Lubitsch horror movie is enticing, but this isn’t really it — the one uncanny image, the titular mummy eyes, is quickly revealed as a Scooby Doo plot to hoodwink gullible tourists. From then on, Jannings’ menacing blackface Arab is the only dramatic threat, and he’s of a wholly corporeal nature.
I did get a brief frisson when I first watched this, when the image below appeared ~
Whoops, now it’s the image above. The pic appears in Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies, and I realized I’d just inadvertently checked off a movie from my quest to see every film depicted therein, a quest I have called See Reptilicus and Die (a quest that has been more or less moribund lately as the few films left available to me are so very, very unappealing).
As lacklustre as the film is, it doesn’t deserve Alpha Video’s shoddy rendition, which replaces the German intertitles with cheesily-designed and semi-literate English ones. As the film goes on, these become fewer, as if the Alpha Video titling department (I’m picturing an intern with photoshop) had lost its enthusiasm even more markedly than Herr Lubitsch. By the end, you pretty much have to guess what’s going on, which does add a bit of entertainment value.
Hey, Alpha Video, what the heck is a sejour?
Aaaand… the whole thing’s on YouTube.