Universal Monsters: The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)

Written by Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher & Brenda Weisburg
Directed by Reginald Le Borg
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Ramsay Ames, Barton MacLane, George Zucco, Robert Lowery
US Release Dec.31, 1944
RT 61 min.
Home Video Universal Studios Home Video
Classic Horrors rating = 6 (out of 10)

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Although they’re not great, the movies in the Universal Monsters mummy series at least had a consistent recipe. Beginning with The Mummy’s Hand (1940), each installment added a slightly different twist to the set-up, yet always managed to tell the exact same story:

  • An aging Egyptian high priest recaps the original story of Kharis, the mummy, for a younger protégé, then sends him on a mission.
  • Kharis is summoned with tana leaves and used as a lackey to help complete the mission, which always involves a beautiful young woman.
  • The younger protégé decides he wants to be immortal with the beautiful young woman and Kharis must ultimately stop him.

Along the way, Kharis shuffles to and fro across the desert or countryside, terrorizing the locals.

The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) is the third in the series. This time, the aging Egyptian high priest, Andoheb (George Zucco) recaps the original story of Kharis, the mummy, for Yousef Bey (John Carradine), then sends him on mission to bring Kharis and the body of Princess Ananka back to Egypt from the United States.  Last time, the mission was to take Kharis to the United States.

The twist is that the beautiful young woman who is involved, Amina Mansouri (Ramsay Ames), is the Egyptian girlfriend of Tom Hervey (Robert Lowery) and becomes the physical reincarnation of Ananka when Kharis touches his old love’s body. The realization that Bey wants to be with her is particularly forced in this version as a voice in his head convinces him of it.

There are two clever things about The Mummy’s Ghost. First is that the longer Amina lives as Ananka, the older she gets.  A white streak in her hair from her first encounter with Kharis soon becomes a full head of silver.  By the end of the movie, she’s completely wrinkled. Second is the end of the movie.  It’s not a happy ending.  Spoiler alert: Kharis and Amina/Ananka sink to the bottom of a swamp.

I guess there’s another thing I like about The Mummy’s Ghost, and it’s a plus for the others in the series, as well. It’s only an hour long.  At least the familiar story, and questionable threat of the mummy, clips along at a quick pace.  Yes, these movies are faster than the mummy itself.  It takes less time to watch one of them than it does for poor Kharis to cross a field.

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