“In whatever form Anaka’s soul has found refuge, it shall not escape us. Our mission will be fulfilled.”
Well, this was…better than The Mummy’s Tomb (1942). It’s still not good, but improvements have at least been made on the last poor effort.
High Priest Andoheb (George Zucco) summons Yousef Bey (John Carradine), a fellow member of a secret Egyptian order, to recover the body of Princess Anaka from a fictional Mapleton, Massachusetts museum. The ancient Egyptian mummy Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.) quickly murders a university professor studying hieroglyphics having to do with tana leaves (the fictional plant that brings Kharis to life). More murders start occurring as both Bey and Kharis set out to retrieve Anaka’s body.
Meanwhile, a college student played by Robert Lowery is worried about his girlfriend, Amina Mansori (Ramsay Ames), who feels strange whenever Egypt is brought up. On top of that, her behavior gets more erratic as she awakes in the middle of the night to sleep walk to the professor’s house just in time to witness his murder.
As the police investigate the murder and set up nightly patrols and traps to catch the mummy, Bey and Kharis’s growing interest in Amina may mean the end for her and her boyfriend.
While The Mummy’s Ghost still makes the same mistake as the past two films with its choice to begin with exposition instead of an exciting, thrilling, or horrific scene, it does thankfully get to the action going much faster than the previous film.
That’s not all. Since the people and police of Mapleton (Ghost‘s primary setting) remember the attacks in Tomb, they all immediately believe in the mummy and are actively trying to catch him throughout the movie.
I cannot describe how satisfying it is to see people actually doing something in one of these mummy films before the last ten minute mark. Their plans are smart, too. They’ve brought in a special Egyptologist, they keep people in at night, have multiple patrols, know guns won’t work against Kharis, and are generally level-headed and not bumbling morons just for the sake of keeping the story going longer.
The mummy action is a bit better this time around. The slow-moving and easy-to-escape Kharis is still a lame and, it needs to be said, boring villain. What’s improved in this installment isn’t the mummy’s methods of killing, but rather the atmosphere created before and during the killing that makes the scenes scary instead of tedious and silly.
It’s often just little things that contribute to the atmosphere like a museum guard, right before being killed by Kharis, listening to a horror radio show that says there will be a death that night, which establishes effective sense of doom.
Tomb was all about the repetitive and easily avoidable death scenes. While Ghost is a definite step up from its predecessor in this regard, it also has a more complex plot to keep you engaged. The bad guys actually have a goal beyond just killing people, and it holds your interest far better.
Ghost also does something I’d never thought I’d see in this series: good old Chaney gets an actual character to play. It’s not a much. It’s just a small moment where Kharis shows true anger in response to a recent setback, but it’s actual emotion and maybe even a thin layer to the so far shallow character.
I actually cared about Kharis for the first time ever in this series. Strange how easily characters can become even slightly interesting if the writer puts in even the smallest amount of effort.
Finally, I must give props to the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, but I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s downbeat and ballsy for a series that has played it safe far too often.
Like I said up top, this isn’t a good film. It has more initiative, more story, more ideas, and more pathos, but it isn’t hard to have more of any of those in comparison to a film like The Mummy’s Tomb. If you’re looking for an adequate B-Movie to watch one night, this will do. Just don’t expect anything too special.