Mute, masked and murderous: the 1940s Mummy as proto-slasher

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


There are numerous films that could be considered forerunners to the slasher film, including Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) and Italian giallo movies. In ‘Strange Pleasure: 1940s Proto-Slasher Cinema’, Peter Marra makes a convincing case for considering much earlier ‘films from the classical Hollywood era, such as The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur, 1943), The Lodger (John Brahm, 1944), Bluebeard (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1944), The Spiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak, 1945), and Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945)’ as notable and overlooked American-made precursors to the genre. In this paper, it will be proposed that there were earlier antecedents still and that these existed within the horror genre itself. Discussing the Universal Mummy cycle of the 1940s (The Mummy’s Hand (Christy Cabanne, 1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (Harold Young, 1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (Reginald Le Borg, 1944) and The Mummy’s Curse (Leslie Goodwins, 1944)), it will be argued that these films, featuring a masked, silent, monstrous executioner in the form of the Mummy Kharis ,who stalked the inhabitants of suburban American towns, established many of the essential tropes utilised in subsequent slasher films such as Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) and the Friday the 13th film series, complicating what the term ‘slasher film’ might signify beyond the killer’s use of bladed tools.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventThe Slasher Studies Summer Camp: An International Conference on Slasher Theory, History and Practice - Birmingham City University / University for the Creative Arts, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Aug 202115 Aug 2021

Academic conference

Academic conferenceThe Slasher Studies Summer Camp
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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