#28 in my ranking of the Classic Universal Monster movies.
For the first ten minutes or so of The Mummy’s Curse, I was surprised. I felt like it was a Mummy movie that I might actually end up liking. Well, that turned out to not be the case. The opening didn’t go through the familiar motions of repeating the setup that the rest of the Kharis films had, and it just went right into its new setting and characters. Was this going to be a decently built hour long film? No, no it wasn’t. It wasn’t as bad as The Mummy’s Ghost, but it didn’t even meet the moderate mediocrity of the first two entries.
There’s a bog down in Louisiana that a company is trying to drain. Into this comes Dr. James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and his Egyptian colleague Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) who have come to investigate the site for the remains of Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and Princess Ananka (Virginia Christine) who disappeared into it twenty-five years ago. First of all, didn’t The Mummy’s Ghost happen in Massachusetts? Also, if you follow the timeline of the films, this movie takes place in 1997. That tickles me.
Anyway, things begin to go wrong immediately when one worker ends up dead and the investigation finds a perfectly shaped human hole in the mud, and everyone assumes it to be this mummy. Then we get the reveal. Surprise! Zandaab isn’t on the level. He and his incognito assistant Ragheb (Martin Kosleck) have set up in an abandoned mission, and we get our repeat of the explanation of the legend of Kharis, complete with clips. It takes forever. I was okay with the film up to this point, but once the clips started, I just groaned. The film never really recovered after that.
Ananka wakes up from her sleep, coming out pretty despite the previous film showed her turning into a haggard old mummy (in Massachusetts), and she runs into one of the workers who takes her to the local café. Kharis pursues, there’s a death, Ananka runs away from him, and ends up getting picked up by another worker who takes her to the camp’s doctor. It’s here where Ananka proceeds to make no sense. She speaks English, but she has suppressed memories of Ancient Egypt. So, if The Mummy’s Ghost is supposed to be canon (despite happening in Massachusetts), then the possession only half-took? I guess? Whatever. She’s a damsel in distress. There really shouldn’t be too much to think about it.
There’s mummy action as Kharis tears through camp and the whole thing ends up climaxing at the mission. There’s a bit where Ragheb tries to take advantage of Betty (Kay Harding), the daughter of the site’s foreman, and Zandaab determines that he’s unworthy of being a follower of Ra. Also, a romance developed out of nowhere between Betty and Halsey that doesn’t really appear until they walk off arm in arm.
It’s just events, strung together to form something approximating a story. Some of these events aren’t bad (Ananka’s rising from the mud is actually pretty creepy), but when nothing ties together in any significant way it just becomes dull. It’s not as insulting as The Mummy’s Ghost, and there are enough individual moments that I get through without wanting to turn off the movie. It’s not the worst, but there’s really not much to recommend it either. The setting is decent. The acting is passable. Chaney was drunk. The story is a mess.