Written by Bernard Schubert
Directed by Leslie Goodwins
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Coe, Virginia Christine
US Release Dec 22, 1944
RT 60 min.
Home Video Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Classic Horrors rating = 6 (out of 10)
The Mummy’s Curse (1944) strays ever so slightly from the recipe established in the previous four Universal Monsters mummy movies, but mostly by adding the ingredients in a different order. The obligatory scene where an Egyptian high priest recaps events happens later in the movie than usual and after there’s already been a murder. It wasn’t even Kharis who committed this murder.
It’s 25 years after the events of The Mummy’s Ghost and the government is draining the swamp where Kharis carried the reincarnation of Ananka and sank to the bottom. Dr. James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) arrive on the scene hoping to unearth the bodies to take back to the Scripps Museum. However, Zandaab is really a high priest and has a man planted in the crew.
It’s this plant, Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), who murdered the man after he helped set up a makeshift tomb in an old monastery on the hill. It’s the two men’s plan to revive Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.), have the mummy retrieve the body of Ananka, then ship them both back to Egypt. Oh, and of course, kill anyone that gets in its way.
There is one unique scene in The Mummy’s Curse when Ananka rises from the dead. She’s quite zombie-like as she first reaches a hand out of the ground and then slowly sits up. She’s been mummified, I guess, and moves in jerky motions like we’ve become used to today in horror movies with special effects. Drawn to the sun, she regenerates as she walks, becoming the lovely actress Virgina Christine.
Otherwise, it’s standard mummy nonsense for the rest of the movie. There’s the bare hint of a romance between Halsey and Betty (Kay Harding), the niece of the crew’s foreman. But it’s enough of a hint that they’re leaving the tomb hand in hand at the end of the movie. She’s never threatened by Zandaab or Kharis, which I suppose could be considered a twist.
Kharis is buried when a wing of the monastery collapses, but Halsey mentions digging him out to take him to the museum. There could easily have been another installment, but this is the last audiences would see of the mummy, unless you count his co-starring role with Abbott & Costello 11 years later. You may want to, considering one of the most unintentionally funny monsters was then featured in an actual comedy.