The poster for Universal’s The Mummy’s Curse promised viewers “New Thrills! New Terror!” but this third and final sequel to The Mummy’s Hand provided nothing new or much in the way of thrills for that matter, and while it did include “Two mummies for the price of one” it was just another stock retread that was resplendent with stock footage from previous entries and not much else.
Inexplicably set in the Louisiana bayou, this sequel deals with the Southern Engineering Company trying to drain a local swamp but their efforts are being hampered by the superstitions of the workers, they believe the area to be haunted by the Mummy and his bride, which is odd when you consider the fact that the Mummy and his bride sank in a swamp about a thousand miles away in Massachusetts. Two representatives of the Scripps Museum, Dr. James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) arrive on the scene and present their credentials to the head of the project, Pat Walsh (Addison Richards), and ask to be allowed to search for the missing mummies, but before they can get permission they are interrupted by news that a workman has been murdered. Once on the scene, it becomes evident that the murderer had found the mummy of Kharis and killed the only witness of the discovery.
In what should be a surprise to no one, Zandaab is secretly a High Priest of Arkam and the murderer in question is his disciple Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), who after killing the worker that unearthed Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) had taken the immobile monster to a deserted monastery. Meanwhile, the mummy of Ananka (Virginia Christine) rises from the swamp all on her own and she immerses herself in a nearby pond – a girl needs to get clean – and then proceeds to wander through the swamp in some kind of fugue state, that is until she runs into Cajun Joe (Kurt Katch) who brings the poor girl to Tante Berthe (Ann Codee), the owner of the local pub, who aids the girl until Kharis shows up and murders Berthe while Ananka flees into the night. Watching The Mummy’s Curse it becomes quite clear that being anywhere near Ananka is the equivalent of a death sentence.
What follows is a series of mummy murders with the two idiot priests trying to get their grubby little hands on Anaka, and the occasional protagonist trying to help the amnesiac Ananka in between the killings – Halsey even gives her a job working for him just so that he can be impressed by her incredible knowledge of ancient Egypt – but with everyone running around searching and killing its hard to get invested in much of what’s going on, we’ve seen it all before and the cliches and tropes are trotted at frequent intervals. Things become so absurd that one can’t help but question how any of this makes a lick of sense, even from a supernatural point of view, and with all the Egyptian priests travelling to America on missions for the sect of Arkam I have to imagine what conversation between the High Priest of Arkam and immigration officials at the airport would have sounded like.
Agent: “What’s your purpose for travelling?”
High Priest: “I must retrieve the mummy of Kharis and the reincarnated body of Princess Ananka.”
Agent: “Right, and how many bags are you checking?”
High Priest: “Two sarcophagi to use to bring back our wayward ancestors.”
Agent: “Great, just make sure you’re not bringing any fruits or vegetables into the country.”
High Priest: “I do have some tana leaves, does that count?”
• Zandaab gives a lengthy explanation of the legend of Kharis and Ananka to Ragheb, after retrieving the mummy from the swamp, but wouldn’t a disciple of Arkam know all this already? At this point in time, I bet they’d have training films and souvenir T-shirts stating, “I went to America and all I got was murdered by the Mummy.”
• Kharis had to be found, uncovered and then fed a brew of tana leaves to be revived, but Ananka crawled out of her swampy tomb all on her own, clearly, a reincarnated princess is more badass than some silly male mummy.
• Louisiana water has truly miraculous qualities, Ananka crawls out of her muddy grave and after one dip in a nearby pond her hair is perfectly coiffed and her face completely made up, resplendent with eye shadow, eyeliner, mascaraed eyelashes and even lipstick. Mary Kay Cosmetics should definitely look into bottling this stuff.
• Pieces of the mummy’s bandages are left behind at every crime scene like some kind of ancient Egyptian calling card.
• That Kharis survived being “destroyed” by flames in two movies is problematic at best but here we are expected to believe that a mummy would remain in mint condition after soaking in a swamp for twenty-five years, and I call bullshit on this entire endeavour.
The plot of The Mummy’s Curse is basically a retread of stuff we’ve already seen in the previous films; Egyptian priests coming to America to retrieve Kharis and Princess Ananka, the Mummy being revived and wandering around until it bumps into some idiot that it can strangle, and then an Egyptian priest will forgo his mission when he gets the hots for a local girl and all culminating with the Mummy being defeated by a group of two-dimensional protagonists. The only new wrinkle here is the resurrection of Princess Ananka, as this film’s supernatural MacGuffin, but this mostly consists of Kharis coming after her and then some poor slob getting killed trying to help her, which then results in Ananka escaping. Rinse and repeat until the movie is over.
This also includes another thankless and uninspired performance by Lon Chaney Jr – that is when he’s not being doubled by his stand-in due to the actor’s on-set drunkenness – but I’d probably overindulge in spirits if I was stuck playing a shambling creature covered in Jack Pierce’s ever-decreasing in quality mummy makeup, and with the increasingly unthreatening presences of the Mummy – who I swear to god gets slower each movie – and the repetitive nature of these sequels it’s not surprising this was the last entry in the franchise, if you don’t count Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, and we can only hope that Kharis has finally been allowed to rest in piece.
You can check out my other reviews here: Universal Classic Monsters: A Cinematic World of Horror.
The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
Movie Rank - 5/10
I will give it that there are some nice atmospheric and creepy moments in this outing but I’d say that fans of Universal horror will probably find The Mummy’s Ghost a bit of a letdown and one that rightfully ended the franchise because even if some elements of this film had a little charm it’s not enough to save it from the tomb of forgetfulness.