“On the night when the moon is so high in the heaven, the mummy and his princess, they walk.”
Well. This sucked.
The Mummy’s Curse (1944) takes place 25 years after The Mummy’s Ghost (1944). If you factor in that Ghost and The Mummy’s Tomb (1943) were set 30 years after The Mummy’s Hand (1940), that means Curse takes places in 1995. I know this is a goofy, Hollywood B-Movie that I’m putting too much thought into, but this timeline is silly.
Even if I can forgive the 30-year difference between Hand and Tomb, Curse is harder to ignore. Tomb needed to be set decades after the Hand for the story to work, but there is absolutely no reason why Curse needs to be 25 years after Ghost. None. Zero.
Anyway, Ghost ended rather bleakly with Kharis taking Amina (our leading lady who had turned into the mummified Princess Anaka) into a swamp. I enjoyed such a dark ending. A follow-up where Amina and her college boyfriend from Ghost meet up again would’ve been a fine story to explore. It would’ve been a nice change of pace from the last few films. But since this is needlessly set a quarter of a century later and none of the characters from Ghost are present, we’re denied that potentially interesting tale.
Instead, our story begins with a company wanting to drain the swamp, which is now located in Louisiana despite Tomb and Ghost explicitly being set in Massachusetts. The project has been running into trouble as the Cajun workers (who apparently went to the Chico Marx school of accents) believe the swamp to be haunted by a mummy and his bride.
Representatives from the Scripps Museum, which housed Princess Anaka’s body and casket in Tomb and Ghost, visit Pat Walsh (Addison Richards), the head of the draining company. Dr. James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) have been sent to find the remains of Kharis and Anaka in the swamp.
A workman is murdered, and Halsey is certain it’s because the workman found one of the mummies. What Halsey doesn’t know is the murder was committed by a lackey (Ragheb, played by Martin Kosleck) of Zandaab, who is secretly an Egyptian high priest whose mission it is to retrieve Kharis and the princess.
The princess (played by Virginia Christine) emerges from the swamp and transforms from a dried-up mummy to a normal woman with a bout of amnesia. She gets acquainted with Halsey, who is stunned by her wealth of knowledge about ancient Egypt.
Halsey, his girlfriend Betty Walsh (Kay Harding), and a physician (played by Holmes Hebert) are kind to the amnesiac woman, giving her a job aiding Halsey in his work. Meanwhile, Zandaab, Ragheb, and Kharis the mummy (Lon Chaney, Jr.) have devious plans for Anaka.
Everything good about Ghost is absent from Curse and everything bad about Tomb is overabundant. The film spends way too much time establishing and expositing before launching into a butt-load of padding. It’s pretending to develop Anaka and her relationship with Halsey, but in truth, it crams all that into only a a few minutes.
Most of the movie is actually spent accomplishing…nothing. Our characters, while active in pursuing the mummy in Ghost, are back to not knowing what’s going on most of the time. Passive heroes don’t exactly make for exciting leads, movie.
What we have here is a feeble story and wooden, underdeveloped, generic characters who left me uninterested in whether they would live, die, or just disappear from the movie altogether.
In Ghost, Chaney was finally given a smidge of an actual character to play. Here he’s back to being an emotionless puppet that could be played by anyone. I can see why Chaney always spoke so poorly about the mummy. He’s never given anything to do.
As I arrive at the end of the mummy series, I’ve decided it’s the worst of what I’ve reviewed so far this month. The original film from 1932 was thrilling and clearly had a lot of love attention lavished on it. But following the property’s move to the B-Movie bracket, the films became content with being lazy rehashes recycling old ideas (that weren’t very good to begin with) over and over again.
The other series I’ve reviewed – Dracula, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man – have been mixed ventures. But while I may not have loved the screwball comedy antics of The Invisible Woman (1940) or the disappointing psychological horror of Dracula’s Daughter (1936), there was some genuine excitement and an actual effort to try new things for the most part. Even House of Frankenstein (1944), as horrible as it is, at least had a couple of good actors and some attempts at doing something interesting.
The mummy series has been content to simply coast by, offering the bare bones of entertainment. If you can even call these films entertaining. Hand and Ghost are at most okay but would be fine if you absolutely need a B-Movie fix. Tomb and especially Curse, should be steered far away from. They’re near the bottom of the barrel and offer the viewer nothing but disappointments and a waste of time.