Lecture & Film

The Master of Terrir: Ivan Cardoso’s The Secret of the Mummy (1982)

O Segredo da Múmia

Stefan Solomon

Nov. 2, 2017 20:15 h

Something of an enigma in the history of Brazilian cinema, Ivan Cardoso carved out a niche for himself in a genre he termed terrir – a type of horror-comedy forged from the combination of ‘terror’ and ‘rir’ (to laugh). His first feature, O Segredo da Múmia (The Secret of the Mummy, 1982), presents itself as a comical reworking of the classic Universal film directed by Karl Freund, and pays homage to its forebears in its knowing use of various horror tropes. But the film’s production history reveals a more complex picture: starring (and inspired by the work of) Hélio Oiticica, based on an original idea by the anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, and later written for the screen by the pulp and comic book author, Rubens Francisco Lucchetti, The Secret of the Mummy is a deceptively rich work that demands to be unravelled.