Set circa early 1920s, it features proficient historian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and her older brother, lazy archaeologist Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah) on a quest to find the lost city of Hamunaptra, City of the Dead, said to be the hiding place for the wealth of ancient Egypt. Enlisting the help of former legionnaire Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), they inevitably end up accidentally releasing—and then having to stop—a mummy named Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), a former Egyptian priest who was condemned to a hellish immortality, and once awakened unleashes the ten Biblical plagues upon Egypt.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Survivor: When we first meet Jonathan in 1926, he does things like hop into a sarcophagus and muse out loud that he'd rather like to join the dead. When Rick is faced with an awful situation, he says "I've had worse odds", and Jonathan says "So have I." His age, improbable aiming skills, ability to think quickly on his feet yet gets scared of firefights? He's the exact age to have fought in World War I.
- Alliterative Name: Dave Daniels.
- All There in the Manual:
- The novelization gives some details that probably would have been difficult to convey in the movie, such as some of the Carnahans' backstory and the cause and effect of their parents' deaths. Among other things, pouring the scarabs into Imhotep's sarcophagus wasn't just to torture him further; it's an essential part of the ritual that they would eat his flesh, and when he became desperate he would eat them, and this would continue for years. This dark mockery of the cycle of life was an important aspect of making him immortal so that he would suffer forever.
- There was a lot more detail in the original script that was cut for pacing, including an expansion on Imhotep's backstory, the rest of the plagues, and tidbit explanations on minor issues. The original script can be viewed here.
- Almost Kiss: Rick and Evy when they both get drunk during the first night in Hamunaptra and he teaches her how to throw a punch. Since Rick clearly holds his liquor better than Evy, Hilarity Ensues.Evy: [completely hammered by this point, but attempting to appear dignified] I may not be an explorer—or, or an adventurer, or a treasure seeker, or a gunfighter—Mr O'Connell...! But I am proud of what I am!
Rick: [pretty much sober] Oh? And that is...?
Evy: I... am a librarian! [proud smile] And... and I am going to kiss you, Mr O'Connell.
Rick: [amused] You can call me Rick.
Evy: [smiling] Rick... [leans in]
[Rick stops smiling and leans in as well]
[Evy passes out]
Rick: [exasperated/disappointed look]
- An Arm and a Leg: During the final fight, Rick slices off Imhotep's arm. After tossing him away, Imhotep is able to reattach it.
- Ancient Order of Protectors: The Medjai, the descendants of Pharaoh's bodyguards who try to keep people away from Hamunaptra, and Imhotep. Interestingly, despite maintaining their vigil and still taking the ancient religious elements seriously, they have all converted to Islam by the time of the movie.
- And I Must Scream: Imhotep's fate prior to his release by the main protagonists. His tongue was cut out, he was wrapped in bandages to the point of immobilization, and was then locked in a sarcophagus with a bunch of flesh-eating scarabs. To be eaten alive. Forever.
- Artistic License – Geography:
- Right at the beginning, during the opening shot of Thebes, pyramids are visible, but there never were any pyramids built around Thebes. You can also see a small version of a Sphinx in front of the pyramids, making the whole set look like Giza, in Cairo. Apparently, somebody believed that Ancient Egypt without pyramids would not be realistic.
- Then the opening (modern day) scene: what's the French Foreign Legion doing in Egypt (a British protectorate)? Ancient Egypt at its height didn't expand anywhere near what became France's African colonies. (This is somewhat mitigated by Rick mentioning that his unit deserted to go treasure hunting, but that just raises more questions, especially since he mentions them marching across Libya [an Italian colony] to reach Egypt. Of course, Rick also implies that they were just that motivated, and they appear decidedly understaffed for a regiment, so perhaps they found a believable amount of trouble on the way. It does make you wonder why the Italians and British don't seem pissed over some Legionnaires shooting their way through their territory, though.)
- Hamunaptra is a real place and was really nicknamed "City of the Dead," but it is a ruined city in India, a relic of an unknown civilization destroyed several millennia ago.
- Artistic License – History:
- Rick tells Evelyn that his military garrison reached Hamunaptra in 1923 by marching across Libya. The name Libya is historically inaccurate. In 1923 (and in 1926 when Rick talks to Evelyn), that territory was known as Italian North Africa. The Italian government would not give it the name "Libya" until 1934.
- The Book of the Dead and the Book of Amun-Ra are both made to look like a bunch of black stone and gold (respectively) tablets bound together in a form resembling a codex (a modern-day book). The Ancient Egyptians would have written their books on papyrus scrolls. Even if they could make the books the way they're depicted, the Book of Amun-Ra would never have been made out of pure gold—it would have been obscenely heavy.
- The bronze sword that Rick wields during the climax of the movie, as well as the bronze khopesh used by the soldier mummies, are considerably bigger and longer than their historical counterparts. Not only would a bronze sword like that be absurdly heavy, a sword that long would easily bend during battle.
- Imhotep and Ankhesenamun were real people, but they lived a few centuries apart and were nothing like their film counterparts (being a highly respected polymath who designed the first step pyramid and the half-sister/Great Royal Wife of Tutankhamen respectively).
- Artistic License – Religion: Jonathan identifies the plague of boils as the final plague. Biblically, the final plague was the death of the firstborn sons, which never happens in the movie. Given that the death of the firstborn is controversial even within some parts of the Christian Church, it was probably cut for not being family friendly.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Ardeth Bey appears to say the same sentence three times. Granted, he changes intonations. In case you're interested, he says "The desert will kill him."
- Audible Gleam: When Beni's bagging all that golden treasure from Hamunaptra (which winds up in Rick and Evy's hands after he bites it, and probably paid for their Big Fancy House in the sequel).
- Author Appeal: The Mummy (1932) is Stephen Sommers' favorite movie, and he worked for years to get a crack at making his own version of it. This is the result.
- Badass Driver: Jonathan, who manages to maintain control of the car in the car chase despite it being mobbed. Right up until it crashes into a trough, that is.
- Bait-and-Switch: After the Warden dies, Jonathan reaches into his bag, which he had earlier stuffed with scarabs. He draws his hand back out, but it's because of a broken bottle neck, the bottle being one of Glenlivet whiskey. Jonathan compliments the Warden's taste and starts drinking it.
- Be Careful What You Wish For:
- As Rick explains, his Foreign Legion regiment (which looks more like an understrength battalion, though that could be chalked up to attrition from marching across 1700 miles of Sahara Desert) shown at the beginning of the film were so certain they could find Hamunaptra, they marched out into the desert against orders to find it. And they did. Rick and Beni were the only ones to come back.
- After Evy knocks over the shelves, Dr. Bey says, "Give me frogs, flies, locusts! Anything but you! Compared to you the other plagues were a joy!" He soon finds out that isn't true.
- Being Evil Sucks: Beni serves Imhotep purely out of fear and greed, and he clearly loathes every minute of it, except the part where he taunts the eyeless Burns, perhaps because he blames Burns and his fellows for unleashing Imhotep. By the end of the movie, he finds out being the toadie for an undead dark wizard is really not all it's cracked up to be.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: In the ancient prologue, Anck-Su-Namun fatally stabs herself rather than be apprehended by the Pharaoh's men.
- Big Damn Heroes: When Imhotep breaks into Evy's room as she's sleeping, Rick and Jonathan break into the room and scare Imhotep off with a cat.
- Big "NO!": Evy at the beginning when Rick is about to be hanged.
- The Egyptologist when he hears the Mummy's resurrection: "NO! You must not read from the book!"
- Bilingual Bonus: In-Universe: Beni Gabor can apparently pray in several different languages, so any available gods passing can hear. Not to mention Evy's ability to read, write and speak Ancient Egyptian and possibly many other languages.
- Blind Without 'Em: Mr. Burns. His Oh, Crap! look after Beni accidentally smashes his glasses is rather sad.
- Blunt "Yes":
- The Medjai make no bones about being Necessarily Evil.Dr. Bey: We are part of an ancient secret society. For over three thousand years we have guarded the City of the Dead. We are sworn at manhood to do any and all in our power to stop the High Priest Imhotep from being reborn into this world.
Ardeth Bay: Now, because of you, we have failed.
Evelyn: And you think this justifies the killing of innocent people?
Dr. Bey: To stop this creature? Let me think...
Ardeth and Dr. Bey: YES!
- Later in the film:[mummies rise from the floor]
Rick: Who the hell're these guys?
Ardeth: Priests... Imhotep's priests!
Rick: ...Alright, then.
[More Dakka ensues]
- The Medjai make no bones about being Necessarily Evil.
- Book Ends: At the beginning, Anck-su-Namun fatally stabs herself in the stomach, as seen in a Shadow Discretion Shot. At the end, Jonathan gains control of Imhotep's priests and orders them to kill her. We see this happen as a Shadow Discretion Shot.
- Bookshelf Dominoes: Evy's introduction scene has her knocking down every bookshelf in the library she works in, by accident.
- Bottomless Magazines: Count the bullets, and Rick and the other Americans fire a lot more rounds from their revolvers than the mere six shots they carry. It's especially noticeable during the shootout on the boat.
- Butt-Monkey: Burns, prior to his death, suffers unfairly—before Imhotep catches him, his glasses are broken, leaving him unable to see well. Then Imhotep catches him and steals both his eyes and his tongue. Later, he tracks down the group again and finishes Burns off, but not before the poor bastard finds out what's going to happen.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: When Beni gets lost in the pyramid, the recently resurrected Imhotep is about to kill him as the cowardly Beni prays to various gods in an attempt to ward him off. When Beni starts to chant in Hebrew, Imhotep recognizes the language and instead forces Beni into his service, since having someone around who can actually understand him would be useful to someone who's planning to conquer the world.
- Cats Are Magic: At two points, a normal cat is able to ward off Imhotep because "cats are the guardians of the underworld." This is exploited only the once, because Imhotep completes his regeneration soon after and becomes immune to whatever the cat would supposedly have done to him. In the Licensed Game of the sequel, cats drain Imhotep's life bar.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The flesh-eating scarabs. OK, these were important when they first showed up, but still...
- Chekhov's Gunman: Winston first appears as an old barfly who has a couple lines and then wanders out of the film, only to reappear when the protagonists need a pilot to get back to Hamunaptra in a hurry.
- Chekhov's Skill: Jonathan picks the key that opens seemingly every locked Egyptian artifact in existence out of Rick's pocket before the start of the film, then swipes it again out of Imhotep's robes during a struggle near the end.
- Contrived Coincidence: On the same totally random day Rick and Evelyn set out on their expedition to Hamunaptra, another expedition for the same long lost city being led by Rick's old associate Beni just happens to depart from the exact same location, on the exact same ship.
- Cool Car: The Curator’s 1931 Deusenberg Model J, also useful for Car Fu.
- Cool Guns: Rick O’Connell packs a brace of Chamelot-Delvigne Mle. 1873 revolvers (likely souvenirs from his Foreign Legion service), along with a pair of 1911s and a Winchester 1897 Riot Gun. Henderson is quite handy with a Colt Peacemaker, not that it does him any good against Imhotep. Ardeth Bay later dismounts the Lewis Aircraft Machine Gun from Winston’s crashed biplane to blow away Imhotep’s reanimated priests.
- Cool Old Guy: Winston Havlock, RAF. A hard-drinking, good-natured WWI ace who lost all his friends fighting the Ottoman Turks 20 years earlier. When offered a chance to "Rescue the damsel in distress, kill the bad guy, save the world," with a near-certainty of it being a suicide mission, he all but says "Hell yeah, sign me up!"
- Cowardly Lion: Jonathan. Unlike Beni, Jonathan proves that when the going gets tough he can muster enough courage to help out the others... even if he'd prefer not to unless really, really pushed.
- Cruel and Unusual Death:
- As part of his punishment for murdering Pharaoh Seti I, Imhotep is buried alive in a sarcophagus filled with flesh-eating scarab beetles.
- The priests who helped Imhotep in the prologue are mummified alive.
- Some hired locals are sprayed with acid when they pry open a pass in the tomb and trigger a booby trap.
- Hassan, the warden who accompanies O'Connell's group on the journey, is unfortunate enough to have a scarab beetle crawl under his skin and eventually burrow into his skull to eat his brain. While this doesn't kill him directly, he bolts down a tunnel, screaming in agony before (possibly intentionally) slamming his head into a stone wall, killing himself and putting an end to the bug's work. Christ.
- Everybody unlucky enough to be in the vicinity of the chest (that holds the Book of the Dead and Anck-su-namun's canopic jars) when it is opened—they get their flesh sucked away by Imhotep.
- Beni Gabor, who has spent the movie betraying everyone, faces a slow death by dehydration and starvation after being trapped in Hamunaptra's treasure chamber. That's bad enough, especially given that the single torch he has is going out. Cue those self-same flesh-eating scarab beetles.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Evy reads from a book that sets off the events of the film, and that conveniently prevents the production company from having to pay more actors.
- Cursed with Awesome: Imhotep, whose punishment for having an affair with the Pharaoh's favorite wife, killing the Pharaoh, and trying to raise the dead is to be eaten alive by scarabs. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, once the scarabs are done and he comes back, he has all the powers of the Ten Plagues of Egypt.
- Cute Monster Girl: Subverted by Ankh-su-namun in her mummy form. She looks exactly as you'd expect a 3000-year-old mummified corpse to look, but she was gorgeous when she was alive.
- Damsel in Distress: Evy a couple of times. One of the times is actually a subversion since she goes with the villain willingly to save everyone else (though it's not explained how she ended up unconscious and chained to a slab; note that it is shown in the original uncut script).
- Dark Is Not Evil: Played with in the case of the Medjai, who dress in black and are Necessarily Evil, but turn out to be Good All Along.
- Deadly Dust Storm: Imhotep has power over them, and can even turn into one.
- Death by Materialism:
- Beni. He just gets a little too greedy with the gold he is thieving from Hamunaptra—the guy already has a huge saddlebag and simply has to go back for more.
- The prison warden steals a wall decoration that's actually a live scarab beetle... which burrows into his foot, up his entire body, up his face, then starts eating his brain.
- Death Seeker: Winston Havlock, a WWI pilot who survived when all his buddies died in glorious combat. In fact, when the heroes recruit his assistance against Imhotep, and tell him point blank that he'll probably die (as everyone else who's gotten involved has died), he sounds downright giddy at the prospect.Winston: [as Imhotep's sandwave is about to bring down the biplane] Here I come, laddies! [laughs]
- Designated Girl Fight: Subverted in the final fight. While Rick and Jonathan fight off Imhotep and his many mummy mooks, Anck-Su-Namun attacks Evy. However, being a Non-Action Gal, Evy spends the whole "fight" simply dodging her attacks. Jonathan then commands an army of mummified guards he summoned to kill her.
- Devoured by the Horde: Beni Gabor is eaten alive by scarab beetles, which swarm over and inside of him.
- Dirty Coward:
- Beni runs away and leaves his so-called comrades to be killed by the Tuaregs; he locks himself in the tomb, even shutting out his "friend" Rick; and worst of all, he becomes Imhotep's servant in order to save his own miserable neck. On top of that, he greedily fills his pockets with the gold from the tomb, which ultimately ends up killing him.
- The Foreign Legion commander at the beginning raises his sword to give the order to charge... and then drops it and gallops away, leaving Rick to give the order to attack. Even Beni lasts (a little) longer, enough to tell Rick about the aforementioned command change.
- Disaster Dominoes: The bookshelves in the library when Evy, stuck on top of an upright ladder, knocks into one and causes them all to fall over.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: The British Egyptologist tells Evy, "You must not read from the book!" She does anyway. Subverted in that he declares this after she's already done what she wasn't supposed to. Although he's really not one to talk, since he and the three Americans were the ones to open the chest the aforementioned book was in in the first place, after he'd clearly read the inscription that warned that anyone who opens the chest would be the resurrected mummy's first victims.
- Dwindling Party: As Imhotep slowly works his way down the cursed, and as everyone who tries to help stop him dies.
- The Americans, oh so very much. It's lampshaded a bit, though.[The barge is burning, and the Trigger Happy Americans are gleefully shooting up the Medjai, complete with whooping]
Jonathan: [with disgust] Americans.
- That being said though, they are still benevolent and team up with our British/American/Egyptian heroes to stop the mummy, so they are a combination of type 1 and 2.
- Rick O'Connell is heavily implied, if not outright stated, to be American. Every time Evy or Jonathan says something disparaging about them, they quickly add a "No offense" for Rick's benefit.
- The Americans, oh so very much. It's lampshaded a bit, though.
- Elite Mooks: The mummy soldiers that Jonathan accidentally summons and that battle O'Connell. Compared to Imhotep's mummy priests, they are faster, wield weapons, can jump great heights, can Wall Crawl, and are skillful with the weapons they wield, giving Rick a considerably difficult fight. Fortunately, they're just as fragile as the mummy priests.
- Emergency Multifaith Prayer: When facing Imhotep approaching him, Beni starts praying using Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu icons and prayers. It's not until he reaches Judaism that Imhotep recognizes the Hebrew language as "the tongue of the slaves" and spares his life in exchange for his services.
- Empathic Environment: After awakening Imhotep, once the story cuts back to Cairo, the sky is growing dark with clouds, setting up the danger that is to come.
- Establishing Character Moment: Beni is first seen smugly telling Rick he just got promoted and is in command of their Foreign Legion company after the original commander gallops away, before he decides to also run for it and leave the others to their fate.
- Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Hassan, the Cairo warden who joins the journey to Hamunaptra.Jonathan: Let's see what our friend the warden believed in.
- Eye Scream
- When Imhotep is accidentally released he is a rotting corpse, without eyes. Guess how he gets them... not to mention the "My eyes! My eyes!" screams from Burns. Imhotep also takes his tongue and then his very life essence the next day.
- When the boat is attacked, Evy uses a candle to the eye as self-defense. She also pokes one of the enslaved mobbers in the car chase in the eyes to get him off the car.
- Five-Man Band:
- The Leader: Rick, freed by Evelyn for this purpose. Can double as The Big Guy.
- The Lancer: Jonathon the Action Survivor to Ricks Action Hero.
- The Chick: Evy keeps the peace.
- The Smart Guy: Erick Avary (Evy's boss) is the most knowledgeable.
- The Big Guy: Ardeth Bay fufills this role along with Sixth Ranger.]
- Forced Kiss: Evy gives one to Imhotep to distract him while attempting to kill the heroes by attacking them in the form of a sandstorm. It works, but the plane still ends up crashing.
- In the prologue, Anck-su-Namun stabs herself in the stomach. Imhotep gets killed at the end by being stabbed through the stomach.
- Terence Bey refers to the plagues of Egypt when scolding Evy for destroying the library, and she herself later refers to them about an hour into the film when telling the others about the Hom Dai. Imhotep brought these plagues back with him when he was resurrected.
- The collapsing bookshelves in the library set up the destruction of Hamunaptra at the end, especially the falling pillars.
- When Evy and Jonathan show Terence Bey the map a scene or so later, lines of dialogue from Jonathan refer to the treasure chamber at Hamunaptra and how the city would sink into the ground at the flip of a switch. This is seen and goes on to happen at the end of the film.
- Doubles as Rewatch Bonus: watch Terence Bey. He deliberately burns the map, which hints at his true allegiance later in the film.
- Rick's Forced Kiss to Evy while imprisoned early on sets up how the two will end up together at the end of the film and the sequels, as does the later scene of Evy nearly falling asleep on Rick's shoulder while riding camels and when Evy is very drunk and passes out before she can kiss Rick.
- The prison warden's hatred of bugs. He's later killed by the scarabs.
- The prison warden showing awe at the scarabs and wondering what they are sets up how Jonathan, while helping Rick and Ardeth to rescue Evy, will later do the same. The warden dies, but Jonathan survives.
- Burns's first line is that he needs his glasses or he can't see. Sure enough he loses his glasses when fleeing from the locusts, Beni steps on them, and he is the first one to get killed by Imhotep.
- Forgot About His Powers:
- Imhotep has the ability to take over the minds of an entire town's population and turn them all into mindless slaves. Yet for some reason, it never occurs to him to use this power against Rick or any of the other main characters.
- After Jonathan gains control of the remaining Mummy Soldiers and sics them on Anck-Su-Namun, Imhotep conveniently forgets that he has God-like powers and could have easily dispatched them to save her, but instead tries to take the Golden Book from Jonathan in an attempt to reverse the spell. However, he is not fast enough, and Anck-Su-Namun is killed (again).
- Four Is Death: Four men (the Americans apart from O'Connell and the Egyptologist) open the chest with the Book of the Dead and Anck-Su-Namun's canopic jars in it, ignoring the warning that they will be marked for certain death if they do and the "Undead" (Imhotep) is brought back to the mortal world. Sure enough, Evelyn reads from the Book and wakes Imhotep, and the next part of the film sees him track down and kill all four hapless men.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four Americans in the first film: O'Connell is choleric, while Henderson is sanguine, Daniels is melancholic, and Burns is phlegmatic.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus/Wardrobe Malfunction: This was most likely an accident on the actor's part, but during the scene where the Warden is panicking as he feels the scarab crawling under the skin of his leg, if you pause it just right... you can actually see his penis peeking through the fly of his pants.
- Good All Along: The Medjai. Yes, they murder people, but it's to prevent even the possibility of anyone finding Hamunaptra and resurrecting Imhotep.
- Go Out with a Smile: Winston.
- Groin Attack: This is ultimately how Beni escapes from Rick shortly after being interrogated. Later Rick does it to one of Imhotep's mummy priests.
- Gun Porn: If you're a fan of vintage 1920s weaponry, this is the film for you. Pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, this movie has everything.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Some of Imhotep's mummy priests are missing various pieces of themselves. When Rick slices one in half, that doesn't stop it from trying to attack.
- Heroes Gone Fishing: On the barge, the American team are playing cards with Jonathan before the attack starts.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Terence Bey pulls one off to give Rick, Ardeth and Jonathan time to escape down a manhole after Imhotep orders the hypnotised townspeople to kill them.
- Subverted later. Ardeth charges into the horde with only an empty shotgun to buy time for Rick and Jonathan to save Evy and kill Imhotep. Once this is done and they make it out of Hamunaptra, he is seen to have survived.
- Hidden Depths: Jonathan, while being lazy, childish and a thief, is also surprisingly knowledgeable about the Bible, thinks quickly on his feet by pretending to be under Imhotep's spell to escape the mob, and can kind-of read Ancient Egyptian.
- Hook Hand: The Medjai warrior who leads the assault on the boat has a serrated hook for a hand.
- "I Can't Look!" Gesture: Imhotep closes his eyes and looks away from the shadow of Anck-su-Namun stabbing herself.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After being rendered mortal, Imhotep is killed when he gets stabbed through the stomach with a sword.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The Tuaregs horsemen at the beginning, firing rifles one-handed on horseback at full gallop. Logically they shouldn't be able to hit the Hamunaptra city wall or even the mountainside behind it, but they inflict massive casualties against Legionnaires in fortified positions on the wall. That’s before we get to the rapid-fire Guns Akimbo.
- Irony: Evy tells Rick and Jonathan that people who get mummified are already dead. The irony being that we already know Imhotep's priests were mummified while still alive.
- It Has Been an Honor:
- Rick salutes Winston as he is buried by the quicksand.
- Ardeth Bey warmly says farewell to Rick, Evy, and Jonathan, saying they've earned his people's respect.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Rick says this about his first kiss with Evy, since he was about to be hanged. He seems surprised when she takes offense.
- I Warned You: Rick warned Evy not to mess with the Book of the Dead.Evy: We woke him up, and we are going to stop him!
Rick: "We"? What "we"? We didn't read that book. I told you not to mess around with that thing, didn't I tell you not to mess around with that thing!?
Evy: [rolls eyes] Fine! Me, me, me, me, I, I, I woke him up and I intend to stop him!
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Rick O'Connell interrogates Beni for information about Imhotep's plan by shoving him just inches away from a ceiling fan.
- Jerkass: The British Egyptologist is both sexist and annoyingly smug. Unlike his American associates, who are a trio of cocky-but-friendly thrill-seekers, he's lacking in sympathetic qualities.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Rick. He is definitely a good guy who defends and comes to Evy's rescue a lot, but Evy describes him early on as a filthy, rude scoundrel. Given that he kissed Evy in their first scene together because It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, she's probably right.
- Jonathan too, to an extent. He's greedy, lazy, a thief and a coward, but he's also a Lovable Coward who pulls through when needed and helps Rick, Evy and Ardeth save the day.
- The American team start out as a bunch of jerkasses, but quickly show themselves to be close friends willing to defend anyone who needs help, such as Jonathan on the river boat. After their initial hostile encounter with Rick and company at Hamunaptra, they develop into Friendly Rivals who don't mind hanging out with Rick and Jonathan.
- Karmic Death:
- Beni Gabor's greed comes back to bite him, just as Evy warned. In scarab form.
- Winston gets a benevolent version—more heroic and meaningful than any death he could have had in the Great War.
- Kiss of Distraction: Evy kisses Imhotep in order to break his concentration so the sandstorm he's creating to kill the heroes disperses.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Rick and Evy both steal from the American team at different points. Jonathan, on the other hand, is just a kleptomaniac.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: The Americans' bravado quickly evaporates after Ardeth Bey explains that the mummy will be hunting them down and they book passage on the first ship out of Egypt. Not that it helps.
- Lampshade Hanging:
- After yet another dramatic wind: "That happens a lot around here."
- The director Steven Sommers and editor Bob Duscay do a lot of lampshading in their commentaries.
- "Rescue the Damsel in Distress. Kill the bad guy. Save the World." Troperiffic, indeed.
- When Evy is captured by Imhotep:Evy: You know, nasty little men like you always get their comeuppance in the end.
Beni: Heh heh... they do?
- The Last Dance: RAF pilot Winston Havlock is yearning for one after having missed his chance to go out with a blaze of glory with his buddies in World War I. O'Connell manages to give him one when the heroes need to get back to Hamunaptra. Winston gets them there, but dies in the crash landing.
- Last-Name Basis: Evy refers to Rick by his surname of O'Connell throughout the film, only referring to him as Rick once while she's drunk. Also, Burns, Daniels and Henderson, though Only One Name applies to Burns and Henderson.
- Last Request: Comes up humorously when Rick is about to be hanged:Executioner: Any last requests, pig?
Rick: Yeah, loosen the knot and let me go. [The executioner hesitates, and asks the warden in Arabic if they should honor the request.]
Warden: Of course we don't let him go!
- Legion of Lost Souls: Rick and Beni are in one at the beginning of the film.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Jonathan may be a ridiculously greedy, swindling Plucky Comic Relief, but he is also a crack shot with a rifle, a skilled pickpocket, pretty good behind the wheel and disturbingly competent with a book of ancient spells. When the first reanimated mummies appear in the treasure room and his two-shot derringer proves almost useless, he promptly pulls the revolvers from Rick's holsters to continue shooting. Then when Evy's in danger, Jonathan orders the guard mummies to kill Anck-Su-Namun without any hesitation.
- Let's Get Out of Here: After Imhotep is killed, the whole place starts to collapse thanks to Beni triggering a switch by accident. Cue this trope from Rick, Evy, Jonathan and Beni. The first three make it out alive. Beni doesn't.
- Letting Her Hair Down: Evy, increasingly throughout the movie.
- The Load: Jonathan tends to need help from the party in getting out of scrapes a little more often than he helps them out of scrapes. But boy does he come through at the end.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Subverted; when the heroes finally "kill" Imhotep, the whole place starts coming down on them. It was actually Beni's fault, leading to his Karmic Death.
- Logical Weakness: The mummies of Imhotep's priests, and the Pharoah's guards, being walking dried-out corpses, are weak to fire or just plain physical force, which makes them shatter like glass.
- Logo Joke: The globe in the Universal logo becomes the sun above Thebes.
- London England Syndrome: Because apparently we can't figure out that yes, this is the Cairo in Egypt.
- Lovable Coward:
- Jonathan. While he tends to respond to danger about as well as Beni, what sets him apart is his charm, hilarity, ability to nut up when the going gets tough, and his undying loyalty to his sister.
- Warden Hassan also counts, especially during the boat battle.
- Loves Only Gold: Jonathan, Beni, and Hassan (the warden) are all varying levels of obsessed with treasure, with Beni being the worst.
- MacGuffin: The golden Book of the Living, the black Book of the Dead, and the canopic jars containing Anck-Su-Namun's internal organs.
- Man on Fire: One Medjai gets set on fire during the boat attack.
- Mass Hypnosis: Imhotep uses his powers to brainwash the common folk of Cairo to mob the heroes.
- Mauve Shirt: Burns, Daniels, Henderson, the Egyptologist and Winston. All end up dead over the course of the film, but have enough character to make them somewhat less expendable.
- Meganekko: Evy begins the movie as a bookish librarian with oversized spectacles, but loses them quite quickly.
- Mirror Scare: Evy gets one on the barge. She goes to pick up a book from the floor and when she straightens up, the hook-handed Medjai is standing behind her.
- Mr. Fanservice: Imhotep is often shirtless in both this and the sequel.
- Murder Into Malevolence: Imhotep is a fairly shady character in life — murdering his liege lord for the sake of his lover, who is strongly hinted not to have had a choice in her relationship with said lord — but then gets The Punishment of a terrible curse that makes him suffer for eternity in undeath. When his sarcophagus is disturbed, he rises from the grave with horrific powers and a long list of grievances against the world.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: The villain's Arc Words: Death is only the beginning.
- Meaningful Echo: Anck-Su-Namun's second death is shot almost exactly like her first; her shadow is cast upon the wall while she doubles up as a weapon is driven into her stomach. Only this time, instead of killing herself, she's being stabbed and then hacked to pieces by the mummy guards.
- Mixed Ancestry: According to Evy, Jonathan and her had an Egyptian mother and an English father. It's implied both are dead as Terence Bay says early on, "Allah rest their souls."
- Mortality Ensues: It turns out that the Book of the Living doesn't kill the villain when read from. What it does is remove his immortality, allowing him to be killed like a mortal.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Said by the Egyptologist during the locust swarm heralding Imhotep's rebirth as the full weight of the situation dawns upon him.
- Necessarily Evil: Ardeth Bay leads a secret society dedicated to preventing anyone from discovering the location of Hamunaptra in order to prevent Imhotep from being revived. He feels this is so important that his organization attacks anyone attempting to reach the city, even innocent explorers with no ill intent.
- Neck Lift: Imhotep does two. One to Jonathan, and plenty more to O'Connell.
- Nerd Glasses: Worn by Evy in the beginning, and shed for good not long after—which is odd because contacts didn't exist in the 1930's.
- Nice Hat: The fezzes worn by Beni, the curator and the Egyptologist.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Evy levelling the shelves of the library by accident thanks to Disaster Dominoes and a ladder.
- Evy reading from the Book of the Dead, which awakens Imhotep. She at least resolves to fix it.
- While not heroes, the British Egyptologist and the three Americans removed the book from the chest in the first place, despite reading the inscriptions warning them not to.
- No Name Given: Ardeth Bay in the first film, to the point where it's surprising on repeat viewings to realise they never mention it once.
- Noodle Incident: The movie never tells us why O'Connell is in prison when Evy first meets him. All the prison warden ever says of the incident is "He was just looking for a good time." Later, as Rick is being taken away to be hanged, the warden comments that "Apparently, he had a very good time."
- Nothing Personal: Both Evy and Jonathan take turns insulting the American members of the rival expedition, pausing to add "no offence" to Rick each time.
- Odd Name Out: Evy's colleagues apparently include Abdul, Mohammed, and Bob.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At the climax, Ardeth Bey gets dragged off fighting Imhotep's priests, and is presumed dead. He reappears once everything's over, alive and well, having apparently destroyed all those mummies he was fighting single-handed. (It's worth noting that the original script for the film had Ardeth being killed by the attacking mummies, but Stephen Sommers ultimately decided against this idea.)
- Oh, Crap!: A lot of them.
- Imhotep, Anck-sun-Namun and Imhotep's priests have one after the Pharaoh is killed and Pharaoh's bodyguards pound on the door to the chambers they're in.
- Evy has two in the library scene. First when she tries to put up a book on the shelf behind her and gets stuck on top of the ladder. The second is after the Disaster Dominoes moment with the shelves with her standing unharmed amidst the rubble. Oops, indeed.
- Evy on the barge when the hook-handed Medjai grabs her and demands to know where the map is.
- The Egyptologist when Evy reads from the Book of the Dead, thus awakening Imhotep.
- Rick, Jonathan and Evy when the scarabs burst out of the floor in front of them.
- Burns when Beni steps on his glasses, breaking them, while he and the others are fleeing from the locusts. Then when he hears something behind him and he slowly turns around, he has another.
- Evy when she sees Burns turn to face her, with no eyes. Then again when she sees Imhotep behind her.
- Burns after Beni tells him that Imhotep intends to kill him after having already taken his eyes and his tongue.
- Pretty much everyone when hail and fire start raining down from the sky, after the water has turned to blood.
- Rick, after he sees the corpse of Burns, and then he sees Imhotep. He lampshades it with this: "We are in serious trouble."
- Any time Imhotep, prior to his full regeneration, sees a cat, as cats are the guardians of the underworld.
- Evy when she wakes up to find Imhotep kissing her, while the lower half of his face is rotted. And immediately after that, Imhotep has one when Rick shows him the cat. He flees after it hisses at him.
- Daniels after his pistols run out of ammo while firing on the mob. Then Imhotep approaches him...
- Rick, when Imhotep creates a sandstorm that comes after Winston's plane.
- Jonathan, after one of the scarabs burrows itself into his arm. Rick manages to dig it out and save him.
- Evy when Imhotep is about to fatally stab her. Luckily for her, Imhotep is distracted by Jonathan shouting that he and Rick have found the Book of Amun-Ra.
- Jonathan when Imhotep turns on him after he (Jonathan) has commanded the mummified soldiers to kill Anck-su-Namun.
- Imhotep after being rendered mortal and fatally stabbed in the stomach.
- Beni at the end when the scarabs appear and surround him, before his torch blows out.
- One-Handed Shotgun Pump: Done by Rick, stating, "I believe in being prepared."
- Only One Name: Burns and Henderson, who are only referred to by their surnames. Beni too, only referred to by his first name.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: John Hannah keeps up an English accent for most of his lines, but his Scottish accent is heard when he's heard saying, "Put your backs into it!" to Rick and Ardeth.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: As Rick and Beni's groups are racing to Hamunaptra, Beni whips Rick repeatedly as they're riding alongside. In retaliation, Rick grabs Beni and pulls him right off his camel. For good measure, Evy says to him, "Serves you right."
- Picky People Eater: Imhotep is probably one of the pickiest people eaters around, although he doesn't actually eat them, per se, just takes specific parts to replace his own. He took body parts only from the people who had basically stolen his. Justified in that his curse requires him to consume the specific people who opened the container holding the book in order to regenerate. Then again, after being fully regenerated, he decides to do this to Rick.
- Plot Hole: The film explains that Imhotep was put to death by scarabs because they cause a slow agonizing death, consuming flesh over a long period of time. But when we see one of the tomb explorers get killed by scarabs, it shows him being killed and stripped of his flesh in seconds.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Thy name is Jonathan.
- Pretend We're Dead: Jonathan tries to blend in with the crowd of mind-controlled minions by walking in lockstep with them and chanting "Imhotep! Imhotep!" unconvincingly. It not only works, but even calms down their possessed rage somewhat.
- The Psycho Rangers: Though they are neither actually evil nor equal in number, the American expedition in the first part of the first film are identifiably counterparts to the main team: both groups have scholars (Evy/the Egyptologist), American adventurers (Rick/the "cowboys"), early casualties (the warden/the laborers), and heavily flawed comic relief (Jonathan/Beni).
- The Punishment: Imhotep's being mummified alive in a sarcophagus full of man-eating scarabs for his blasphemous acts. On the up side, he gets Cursed with Awesome and can return from death with very little help from stupid people. Meanwhile, his punishers spend the rest of their lives (as do all of their descendants) keeping him cooped up. Clearly, the punishment was worth it!
- Present Company Excluded:Jonathan: And when those damn Yanks go to sleep—no offense—
Rick: None taken.
Jon: —we'll dig our way up and steal that book right out from under them.
Rick: Are you sure you can find this secret compartment thing?
Evy: Oh, yes, if those beastly Americans haven't beaten us to it—no offense.
Rick: None taken.
- Red Herring: During the climax, Beni takes a moment to pull a small golden relic from one of the bags of loot he's carrying, and the camera lingers for a moment as he examines it. It looks similar to the key to the Book of the Dead, implying that as the black book had a black key, the golden Book of the Living needs a gold key that Beni has found... nope. Both books use the same key, and this scene is just there to throw you off.
- The Remake: It's a re-imagining of the original black and white horror classic.
- Removable Turret Gun: Ardeth plucks the mounted machine gun from the plane before it sinks into the quicksand. Justified as the gun in question, the aircraft version of the Lewis light machine gun note could be dismounted by removing a couple of pins and used the same way.
- Rivers of Blood: The Bible example gets a Shout-Out. Upon Imhotep's arrival in Cairo and his murder of Burns, all the water in Egypt (not to mention the booze) turns into blood.
- Romance-Inducing Smudge: Inverted, where Imhotep's romance with Anck-Su-Namun leads him to smear her body paint.
- Sadly Mythtaken: The Ten Plagues of Egypt were caused by the Hebrew God in order to liberate the Hebrew people, so it's pretty bizarre that an Egyptian curse would recreate or utilize said plagues. Made stranger by the fact that Imhotep identifies Hebrew as the language of slaves, meaning when he was cursed the plagues hadn't even happened yet.
- Save the Villain: Rick attempts to save Beni at the end, but the latter doesn't make it out in time. Rick's not broken up about it, though.
- Say My Name: Evy screams Rick and Jonathan's names when Imhotep starts the ceremony to sacrifice her and resurrect Anck-sun-Namun. Imhotep then does it when Jonathan commands the mummified soldiers to kill Anck-su-Namun, right before they do.
- Say Your Prayers: Beni's prayers are played humorously, as he prays to several gods in several different languages before praying in Hebrew actually winds up saving him, because it's a language Imhotep understands.
- Seeks Another's Resurrection: After murdering the pharaoh, Imhotep attempts to resurrect Anck-su-Namun, but is caught by the pharaoh's bodyguards before he can complete the ritual. He later attempts to resurrect her again after he is restored to life as a Mummy.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!:
- The Americans try to do this, and Rick is fully in favor of the idea, much to Evy's disgust. Unfortunately, Imhotep catches up to them in Cairo before they can get safely out of the country.
- Being a Dirty Coward, Beni does this a few times, including in his Establishing Character Moment. He mentions to Rick on the barge that he can't do it to the Americans while leading them to Hamunaptra because otherwise he won't get paid by the Americans when they return to Cairo.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Several.
- Parts of the Pharaoh's death at the beginning are seen as this, others are actually seeing Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun doing it.
- After being reassured by Imhotep that he will ressurect her, Anck-su-Namun fatally stabs herself in the stomach, which we see in shadow.
- Henderson is killed by Imhotep this way later.
- When Jonathan commands Imhotep's priests to kill Anck-su-Namun at the end, we see this happen as shadows, except this time she's being killed instead of doing it herself.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: A male version with O'Connell when he meets Evy and Jonathan at the docks. When Evy met him in jail he was in serious need of a bath, a shave, and a haircut. When he appears at the docks he's cleaned up and gotten a new set of clothes. Evy is noticeably thrown by his change in appearance.
- Shooting Superman: People will not stop shooting Imhotep even though he is Immune to Bullets. Even after Ardeth has told people that no mortal weapons can harm him, they shoot Imhotep. At least they slow him down. Probably also a case of When All You Have Is a Hammer....
- Shut Up and Save Me!: Jonathan bursts into the chamber just as Evy is about to be sacrificed, gleefully shouting that he and Rick have found the Book of Amun-Ra. Evy's reaction is this trope.
- Slimeball: Beni Gabor.
- Shown Their Work: While the film is known for sacrificing historical accuracy about Ancient Egyptian religion and culture for the sake of a rousing adventure, they get a few things right, mostly in regard to funerary practices. The description of mummification is generally accurate, including removing the brain through the nose (a process called Excerebration), though this was probably done with a tool made from the monocotyledon plant. Imhotep's regeneration process makes a lot more sense here, since retrieving the canopic jars (less so the sucking the life out of those who opened the canopic chest, a very violent re-interpretation of the "curse of the pharaohs") is basically him trying to reverse the mummification process. Also, the ancient Egyptians did believe that not following the rules of correct burial meant damnation since it prevented the soul from being able to pass the dangers in Duat, among other thing. The name (rn in Egyptian) was one of the parts of the soul, so Imhotep being referred to as "he who must not be named" and having the funerary prayers/spells effaced from his sarcophagus would have not have been surprising; the Ancient Egyptians were noted for effacing the names and images of those considered to have been blasphemers like Akhenaten. Also, while the Book of the Dead never existed in a codex form as presented in the film, it WAS essentially a collection of spells designed to enable the dead person to pass successfully through Duat.
- Spit Take:
- Jonathan is getting drunk in the camp battle; Beni runs up and takes a heavy swig of the Glenlivet, and then spit-takes it onto Jonathan as Ardeth Bay rides up behind them.
- All the characters in the bar do spit-takes when they realise the water has turned to blood.
- Squick: In-universe, both Rick and Jonathan are disturbed when Evy goes in to explicit detail as to what mummification entails.Rick: Let me get this straight, they ripped out your guts and they stuffed them in jars?
Evy: And they take out your heart as well. Oh, and you know how they took out your brains?
Jonathan: Evy, I don't think we need to know this.
Evy: They take a sharp, red hot poker, stick it up your nose, scramble things about a bit, and then rip it all out through your nostrils!
Rick: Ooh, that's got to hurt.
Evy: It's called mummification, you'll be dead when they do this.
Rick: For the record, if I don't make it out of here, don't put me down for mummification.
- The Swarm: Rick, Evelyn and Jonathan evade a river of carnivorous scarabs, which returns to devour one of the other excavation party's workers alive.
- Tempting Fate:
- "No harm ever came from reading a book."
- Evy gets separated from Jonathan and Rick thanks to a trapdoor, and finds Burns. She's relieved and comments she was just starting to get scared, only to get an Oh, Crap! when he turns to face her and she sees he now has no eyes.
- This little gem:Rick: You're gonna get yours, Beni! YOU'RE GONNA GET YOURS!
Beni: Oh like I never heard that before!
- Then later on:Evy: You know nasty little fellows like you always get their comeuppance.
Beni: Hehehe... They do?
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Book of The Dead and the Book of the Living. The Book of the Living gives power over the living and can take life, the Book of the Dead gives power over the dead and can give it. Also, the Book of the Living can remove an undead person's immortality and grant command of mummies. Fancy.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The initial journey to Hamunaptra takes several days, including journeying by river boat and camel. After they awaken the mummy, the Americans and O'Connell's team manage to flee back to Cairo in a single day. Given that they were being chased by an unkillable abomination, they were probably hauling ass like nobody's business.
- Walking Armory: In the opening battle scene, Rick wields a Lebel M1886 rifle, two Chamelot-Delvigne Model 1873 revolvers, and two 1911 pistols. He also usually carries multiple weapons whenever he goes into combat for the remainder of the film.
- Walking Disaster Area: Evy, at the beginning, manages to level an entire library by accident. Her employer's horrified reaction, and following rant ("Compared to you, the other plagues were a joy!") suggests this isn't the first time she's done something like this.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: It turned out that Rachel Weisz's nightgown from the boat scene got very translucent when wet, and Weisz wasn't wearing anything underneath. Of course, by the end of the scene she ended up in the water, giving the rest of the cast and crew an eyeful and (unfortunately) requiring touching up in post-production to keep the movie's rating.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Imhotep's curse renders him terrified of cats. It Makes Sense in Context, though, given that cats are the guardians of the underworld, a place to which he surely does not wish to return. He eventually manages to overcome this weakness.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Medjai. When Evy, scandalized, asks if they're willing to kill innocents to stop Imhotep (who is fully capable of ending the world), they snap out an emphatic "Yes!"
- We Will Meet Again: Imhotep corners the heroes, and is taking Evy away to be sacrificed. Before the bad guy can leave, Rick O'Connell looks right into Imhotep's eyes and says, "I'll be seeing you again," with all the menace and hatred and promise the man can muster. Imhotep, who doesn't understand a word (the man's an ancient Egyptian who doesn't speak English) gets the message anyway, but he's so assured of his near invincibility that he only reacts with mild amusement. Turns out, underestimating O'Connell was a huge mistake.
- Wham Line: In-universe for Imothep, when Beni is praying to several different gods in hopes of rescue, until he begins praying in Hebrew, a language Imothep actually understands.Imothep: The language of the slaves!
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Instead of simply executing Imhotep for murdering the pharaoh or torturing him to death using conventional means, the Pharaoh's guards decided to kill him with the curse of the Hom-Dai. While this gives him the slowest most painful death imaginable, it also means he could come back as an unstoppable daemon if anyone ever finds his tomb and reads from the book of death. But hey, what are the chances of that happening?
- What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?:Evelyn: [completely drunk] I know—you're wondering, what is a place like me doing in a girl like this?
Rick: ...Yeah, something like that.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
- "Watch for bugs. I hate bugs." Guess what gets him.
- Imhotep for cats due to the whole "guardians of the underworld" thing. Too bad this is only used in a rather throwaway manner.
- "You!" Exclamation: Evelyn exclaims this to Ardeth Bey when he turns up in the Cairo Museum.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: Without the stock phrase exchange, but Imhotep promises to spare the rest of the party if Evy comes with him so that he can perform the ritual. Naturally, once she's in hand, he orders his followers to kill the rest of them. Of course, the rest of the group had made it extremely clear they planned to follow and try to stop the ritual, so not attacking them would have been fairly silly.
- Zombie Gait: