The Mummy’s Curse (1944)

0.5 stars out of 4. Abysmal. To be avoided.

Let’s start with this: typically when a sequel is released in the same year as the preceding film in a series, the new film will undoubtedly be of vastly inferior quality. Check.

The new film will most likely be an extremely cheaply produced mess. Check.

Still interested? Dear me. The Mummy’s Curse was thankfully the last in Universal’s Kharis cycle, and the last Mummy film the studio ever made. (Until the idea was rebooted for the 1999 Mummy meets Raiders of the Lost Ark Brendan Frasier vehicle.) Somehow the mummies going into a New England swamp have ended up in a Louisiana swamp 25 years later. This of course sets the film in the year 1999. Once again this ridiculous continuity is thankfully ignored and we move into the most monotonous and most awful of all the Kharis films. (and that is a grand achievement in and of itself.)

Engineers determine that the swamp needs to be drained. Two officials from the Scripps museum arrive to request excavation for the two lost mummies. Dr. Halsey and his assistant fez-wearing Egyptian Dr. Zandaab (Oh, what ever could that mean? An Egyptian wearing a fez in a Mummy film?) attempt to find the mummies. They are on hand when a workman is found dead determining that the mummy of Kharis has been found and removed by the murderer.

Zandaab meets with one of the workers that night, who turns out to be his henchman Rageb. Rageb explains that he killed the man and placed Kharis safely in an abandoned church. Zandaab then recalls the story of Kharis in yet another mishmash of clips cut together from the previous films, for he is the new Egyptian High Priest. (Big surprise!) Of course he then tells how to brew the stinking tana leaves and how they give Kharis the power to move.

Then in the only worthwhile second of this terrible trash, Ananka rises from the swampy marsh after being partially uncovered by excavators. She staggers about until she reaches a nearby pond. Later she arises from the waters, revealed to be a beautiful young woman. This sequence is admired as one of the great moments of 40’s Universal horror, and indeed it is. It is too bad that it couldn’t be surrounded by a better film that wasn’t concieved entirely to simply make a fast buck.

One of the workers stumbles upon the girl wandering through the swamp lands and takes her to a local woman’s tavern for care. While he fetches a doctor, Kharis breaks in to reclaim Ananka and kills the unfortunate older woman. Ananka escapes into the night and is found lying in the road by Dr. Halsey and Betty, daughter of the site overseer. They put her in the back of their car and drive off, leaving Kharis frustrated at his inability to catch up to the slow moving car.

They quickly realize she if suffering from amnesia, but when she reveals a deep knowledge of ancient Egypt they ask no questions. Kharis appears and in his attempt to catch Ananka, kills one of the team. She flees into the night again. everyone goes to search for her. Ananka flies into Betty’s tent and Kharis finally captures his prey there. They make way to the church when Betty runs into Rageb who oddly leads her to the church under false pretenses.

Once there, he reveals his lie and approaches Betty. Zandaab has already dealt with Ananka and decries Rageb’s foul desire for Betty. (Because there just had to be someone in the priesthood randomly lusting after a girl haphazardly introduced into the plotline.) Rageb kills Zandaab and is then attacked by Kharis. Betty watches in stunned silence as Kharis pulls down the derelict walls attempting to get to Rageb who has locked himself into an old prison cell. They are both crushed under the falling beams.

Betty is rescued by Dr. Haley and others and they discover Ananka’s mummified corpse finally at rest. Halsey brushes it all off and claims they will dig out Kharis and place him with Ananka in the museum.

The film has been decried as simply one single never-ending chase. This is absolutely true. Of all of the monotonous Kharis films, this is the one that should never have been produced. It is a conscious attempt to fill a double feature and pull in some quick money for Universal by featuring a Mummy. Aside from the resurrection of Ananka, nothing is memorable or even remotely interesting. Lon Chaney gives his least inspired and worst performance as Kharis, which for Chaney’s typically bad Mummy is truly awful. The other actors do nothing and the story is an absolute mess of nothing.

This is certainly one of those films where you ask yourself why you’ve just wasted part of your life. If anything, the one hour run time is a godsend because you’ve only lost an hour due to this garbage.

Watching the mindless Kharis sequels has only strengthened my love for the masterful 1932 original and the unquestionably superior 1959 Hammer film. Enjoy these two great films and skip these trashy 40’s fillers.

Packaged in The Mummy: The Legacy Collection. Like the contained other sequels, Curse is single layer 1.33:1 with 2.0 mono sound. A few print defects here and there but nothing really distracts from the hour of crap.

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Filed under 0.5 stars, Film, Film Review, Universal Horror

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