Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

THE MUMMY'S CURSE


THE MUMMY'S CURSE (1944). Director: Leslie Goodwins.

Back in the days long before DVDs and VCRs producers figured they could fudge a bit in the details of their sequels because nobody would remember the details anyway. Thus the fact that Kharis walks into a swamp in Massachusetts with his beloved Ananka at the end of The Mummy's Ghost doesn't prevent the two of them emerging from a swamp in Louisiana halfway across the country in The Mummy's Curse. The fact that the reincarnation of Ananka was actually a lovely young woman named Amina has also been forgotten or simply dispensed with as irrelevant. [While it might have been interesting if Amina's parents were still alive and saw her with her youth preserved, the movie doesn't explore this situation.] Twenty-five years have gone by since Kharis and Ananka entered the swamp and the Scripps museum wants to interfere with an engineering project in the hopes of getting both mummies back. Lon Chaney Jr. gets to emote much more as the slow but unstoppable mummy in this venture, the last of the series, and the movie is especially rich in atmosphere. Dr. Zandab (Peter Coe) and Ragheb (Martin Kosleck) are the bad guys, and Virginia Christine (best known years later as the matronly Mrs. Olson of the Folger coffee commercials) gives a particularly effective performance as Ananka, who screams like the Bride of Frankenstein seeing old Franky when she spots her ancient lover sheathed in bandages. The scene where Ananka claws her way out of the mud is memorable, and there are great shots of a ghostly abandoned monastery where the bad guys wait and plot. "Most Egyptians doubt the legend of Kharis," we're told. Addison Richards is the head engineer, Walsh; Kay Harding is his daughter Betty; Kurt Katch is Cajun Joe; and Dennis Moore is Betty's love interest, Dr. Halsey. [Moore starred in the 1946 serial The Mysterious Mr. M.] Next came Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy.

Verdict: Universal's final Kharis epic is still good fun. ***.

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