Not all mummies stumble around in dark tombs waiting to kill. A couple have motivations … that still lead to death and dismemberment. Get the scoop after the jump.

Becoming A Mummy

For this article, I’ll focus on how someone become a murdering mummy. I think most people know ancient Egyptians died, had their organs removed, got wrapped up, and placed in a sarcophagus (a casket). For the regular joes, you usually got murdered to help out the royalty or priests in the afterlife. There was less preservation involved for those folks.

Triggering The Resurrection

Mummies must break through their sarcophagus | © Photo RMN – Les frères Chuzeville

In order to come back and re-animate a body, there had to be a triggering event. Mummies don’t return without a very good reason. That means some stupid living person had to disturb a grave or tomb. In a few other cases, it was love that did the trick. Those mummies can be tragic romantics, eh?

For pharaohs and priests, they have spells and enchantments placed on their tombs. Once someone enters the tomb or opens the sarcophagus, the spell is broken and the mummy re-animates. It can also cause those regular joes to come back too.

However, that’s not always the case. There’s plenty of examples of caskets going to museums, and a pharaoh or priest mummy wakes up because someone looked like his one, true love. That’s a rarity, though.

4 Kinds Of Mummies

In a nutshell, there are 4 different types of mummies.

  • Rambling mummies
  • Soldier mummies
  • Pharaoh mummies
  • Priest mummies

Rambling Mummies

A perfect example of a rambling mummy | ©1932 Universal Studios

These are the mummies you usually see in the 1930s-1960s movies. It’s just a gaunt figure wrapped in gauze. Rambling mummies are slow, stiff, and choke everyone to death. A pharaoh or priest uses them as a first-line of defense or as a henchman. No matter how many people these kill, they never regenerate.

Overall, these mummies are fragile. Just like the zombies, you need to destroy most of the body to stop them. Fire works as does mulching. If you can kill the pharaoh or priest, these mummies return to death, too.

Motivation: To protect pharaoh or priest tombs, exact vengeance, or simply to return to death’s slumber.

Killing Style: Choking someone to death.

Soldier Mummies

Imhotep used soldier mummies in the The Mummy from 1999 | ©1999-2001 Universal Studios

Soldier mummies protect pharaohs and priests. Overall, they’re mindless, murdering machines. They pop out of the ground, grab a sword, and start slashing their way through the opposing army.

They’re also fragile like a rambling mummy. One good smash ought to cause their bodies to disintegrate. Still, soldier mummies return as an army. So, you never have just one to kill: You’ve got dozens to hundreds to destroy.

These buggers are fast, too. Watch out!

Motivation: To protect a tomb or assist a pharaoh or priest in their mission.

Killing Style: Hacking, slashing and stabbing with their weapons.

Pharaoh Mummies

Ra, from Stargate, isn’t really a resurrected mummy, but he shows the powers a god-powered pharaoh mummy would have | ©1994 MGM Studios

Pharaohs don’t want to return from death. Really. Being a god walking amongst peasants causes a great deal of fatigue. Death is where it’s at for these guys.

When they return, it’s because someone disturbed their grave, or there’s a mortal lady who reminds him of his lost queen. That means he needs to kill her and return to Duat, the afterlife world.

Sometimes, he also wants to take over the world. Kings tend to be ambitious.

Pharaohs tend to have super-powers. They can withstand gunfire, have super-strength, speed, agility, and use energy weapons to take out their opponents.

Much like priests, you can use magic rituals to return them to death. But the pharaoh tends to kill a lot of people before that works.

Motivation: To rejoin their lost love or take over the world and rule with an iron fist.

Killing Style: Use their god-granted powers to break bodies or blast someone with a weapon. Pharaohs also have a life-sucking ability to rejuvenate their bodies.

Priest Mummies

Priest mummies can suck down someone’s life force to rejuvenate itself | ©2001 Universal Studios

Priests are pretty nasty. They not only want to rule, but they also use death sorcery to get their way. Conniving, cunning and clever, they’ll do anything to get what they want. Priests are now the most common mummy in movies, thanks to the 1999 movie series.

Some poor soul tries to rob their grave or disturbs a tomb, and the priest returns to kill them. Then, it tries to take over the world. In a few other cases, they want to find a lovely lady, kill her and return to death.

I guess this needs to be said: Most priests, like pharaohs, want to die again. They usually take a lot of people with them.

Priests are pretty hard to kill. Usually, someone has to perform a ritual or use a magic item to put it back in its grave. That’s a tall order. My advice: Let the dead sleep.

Motivation: To rejoin a lost love, exact vengeance, or rule the world (or at least whatever city they wake up in).

Killing Style: Use sorcery to slowly kill their victims. Priests also absorb their victims’ lifeforce to regenerate their bodies.


Overall, I took the lore straight from the movies, but I did use a few books for this article. They’re listed right below.

Cardin, Matt (2015), “Mummies Around The World: An Encyclopedia of Mummies in History, Religion, and Popular Culture,” ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Silverman, David P. (2003), “Ancient Egypt,” Oxford University Press.

Putman, James (2009), “Mummy: Discover the Secrets of Mummies…,” DK Eyewitness Books.