0.5/4, 1940s, Horror, Reginald Le Borg, Review, Universal Monsters

The Mummy’s Ghost

#30 in my ranking of the Classic Universal Monster movies.

These Mummy movies are simply not very good. I have some suspicions about why the writing and directing teams simply could not find a way to deal effectively with the mute and slow-moving monster, but all that really matters is what we see on screen. And what we see is repetitive and never all that interesting. There is an effort to make the mummy something a bit more than just a mindless killing machine operating at the whim of the latest in a series of Egyptian characters out to cause havoc on the people of the world for disrespecting their ancient gods, but it’s far too little and far too late to have any kind of serious effect on the whole picture.

Andoheb (George Zucco) brings in yet another follower to teach him how to control Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.). This is Yousef Bey (John Carradine), and he gets the rundown that we’ve heard a couple of times before about the importance of tanis leaves to controlling the roaming mummy, apparently just wandering around New England for years without the daily supply of three tanis leaves that are supposed to keep him alive (seriously, if people are going to discard parts of the rules, why not discard as much as possible to make the story at play as straightforward as possible). Yousef is sent to America to track him down and bring him back as well as the body of Ananka, the priestess that Kharis had loved in his life but was now a mummy herself on display in a museum in New England. That Kharis needs Yousef to arrive and point him in the direction of Ananka really doesn’t say much about Kharis, to be honest.

Anyway, these aren’t our main characters. Our main characters are Amina (Ramsay Mansori), a college student, her boyfriend Tom (Robert Lowery), and their Egyptology professor Norman (Frank Reicher). The important thing is that Norman is studying a relic of Ananka and interprets the hieroglyphics that include the instructions on how to distill tanis leaves. He just does it, of course, attracting the attention of Kharis, and he gets strangled to death. While Kharis is doing this, Amina is nearby and faints at the sight of Kharis, not because she’s scared of him but because of some kind of mystical mumbo jumbo dealing with her being of Egyptian descent and good enough for Ananka to possess, or something.

Yousef directs Kharis around to cause some havoc. Tom and Amina act like nothing is wrong. There’s a dog that barks. It’s all kind of meanderingly pointless.

The interesting bit comes near the end when Yousef decides that he’s not going to follow the laws of his gods and instead of possessing Amina with Ananka’s soul for Kharis, he’s going to take the possessed Amina for himself. Ooo…a character motive. It appears with about ten minutes left (in this 60-minute long film), but it’s something. What’s even better is that Kharis overhears Yousef talking to the unconscious Amina, and he decides that he’s not going to be just a puppet anymore. He attacks Yousef! How exciting!

It doesn’t last long. There’s a torch carrying mob (because Universal Monster movies) that chase them down, and Kharis disappears into a swamp with the steadily decaying body of Amina because mummy magic and curses, or something.

Seriously, these Mummy movies are the bottom of the barrel. They’ve never been good, even when Boris Karloff was classing the whole affair up as Imhotep, but the Kharis movies are bland, too short to develop any interesting characters or plots, and saddled with a not very scary monster. This didn’t irritate me like The Invisible Man Returns, but it did just thoroughly bore me as dull characters wandered around to figure out what we’ve known for three movies. Well, at least it only lasted for sixty minutes. Any longer, and it would have turned painful. Director Reginald Le Borg brings nothing to the table save some bare competence, but this needed far more than a barely competent director. It needed someone who could look at a substandard script and find magic.

Rating: 0.5/4


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