You would think being set aflame twice would have ended the reign of the Mummy, or at least dampened his spirits a tad, then again, maybe that explains why the title of this entry is The Mummy’s Ghost, could Kharis have actually perished and this is nothing but a vengeful spirit? Surprisingly, that is not the case here, but as nonsensical as the Universal Monster Movies get this one was a definite step up from The Mummy’s Tomb, just not that big of a step.
If the Mummy franchise has told us anything it’s that the work of a High Priest of Arkam is never done, the job of protecting the tomb of Ananka ruined by American interlopers has caused him no end of troubles, and now Andoheb (George Zucco) must send a new lackey to America to retrieve the mummy Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.), as well as the body of Ananka so that they can be returned to their rightful resting place in Egypt. This task is given to Yousef Bey (John Carradine) and if you think he’s going to have an easy time of it then you’ve clearly not seen the previous two films. New priests of Arkam have the shelf life of a mayfly. Meanwhile, in Mapleton, Massachusetts, Professor Matthew Norman (Frank Reicher) has become a bit of an expert on the current mummy problems and one of his students, Tom Hervey (Robert Lowery), is particularly interested in the subject matter because his current girlfriend Amina Mansori (Ramsey Ames) just so happens to be Egyptian.
Unfortunately, the Professor’s experiments with the brewing of nine tana leaves, which is the mixture that gives the mummy life, brings the bandaged menace to his door and it strangles him, downs the life-giving concoction and then shambles off into the night. Needless to say, when the Sheriff (Harry Shannon) and the Coroner (Emmett Vogan) discover a strange mould around the dead professor’s throat they know right away that this means the Mummy stalks Mapleton again. And before you can say “Boris Karloff” the town’s people are up in arms and the local hardware stores doing great business selling torches and pitchforks. But this heightened alertness doesn’t stop Yousef Bey from calling on Amon-Ra to aid him in his quest, so he brews some tana leaves of his own to summon Kharis, but their plan of stealing the mummy of Ananka is hit with a snag when after breaking into the museum, Kharis touches the mummified body of Ananka it disintegrates.
Yousef Bey is quick to realize that this means Ananka’s soul has been reincarnated into another form and it’s up to him and Kharis to track her down, which doesn’t take long as all this mummy hocus pocus has been having a bad effect on poor Amina, causing her to sleepwalk whenever the Mummy is near and her hair turning white, and she hypnotically wanders into Kharis’s clutches who then brings her to Yousef Bey so that he can end her life and send her soul back to oblivion. Well, that was the original plan until he saw what a dish Amina is and he decides they’d make a great couple and screw his mission for a bag of chips. Sadly, true love is a hard thing to obtain and his plan of keeping Amina/Ananka for himself enrages Kharis, which leads to a fight and Bey’s inevitable death.
• Kharis was set aflame in The Mummy’s Hand and once again set on fire when the Banning Home was torched in The Mummy’s Tomb, and this movie opens with him wandering the woods of Massachusetts with no explanation as to how he survived, I must say, that is one very durable mummy.
• Even if one were to forgive the Mummy inexplicably surviving its fiery death at the end of the two previous films I call bullshit on it wandering around Massachusetts for days on end without being spotted by someone.
• The museum in this movie needs to hire better night watchmen, the one here doesn’t check to see if all the patrons have left and fail to hear a three-thousand-year-old mummy break down a steal door. Even Ben Stiller could handle a night at the museum better than this.
• Hollywood has never been that great when it comes to casting ethnic actors so of course the Egyptians in this movie are played by actors who don’t look even the slightest bit Egyptian, I mean seriously, who is supposed to believe that John Carradine is an Egyptian?
• Ananka’s soul being reincarnated in this film can be considered a call back to Princess Anck-su-namun being reincarnated in the original 1932 The Mummy.
• Once again the Mummy requires its victims to be practically paralyzed with fear because his slow shambling attacks are so pathetic that he’d be hard-pressed to catch a toddler.
The continuing story of Kharis the mummy never quite brings enough plot to the table to make things interesting, with poor Andoheb constantly trying to accomplish his one job and failing at this due to his poor outsourcing, and once again Chaney’s mummy is less than compelling because he’s more an ineffective lackey with poor impulse control rather than a threatening villain. Then there is the franchise’s recurring problem of casting leading men who are about as interesting as tapioca pudding and Robert Lowery as this film’s love interest is as bland and as boring as they come. I’d rather hang out with a three-thousand-year-old mummy over this guy. And once again at sixty minutes in length, this film has more the feel of a couple of chapters from a Republic Serial slapped together than it does a feature film, and when it tries to do something interesting, like having the Police Inspector (Barton MacLane) coming up with a plan to lure the Mummy into a pit trap using tana leaves as bait, this is abandoned so that the hero and the townsfolk can chase the Mummy and his reincarnated love into the swamp.
Overall, The Mummy’s Ghost is another Universal outing that lacks any real punch and the only surprising element is that the female love interest doesn’t survive, this is one of the rare Universal Monster Movies where the female lead doesn’t make it to the end credits as she ends up aging three-thousand-years while being carried into the swamp, and this had me wondering if the screenwriters of this film understood how reincarnation is supposed to work. That the next installment, The Mummy’s Curse, would be the last entry in the franchise is no surprise as the plot elements in these movies had become as old and thin as the mummy’s threadbare wrappings.
You can check out my other reviews here: Universal Classic Monsters: A Cinematic World of Horror.
The Mummy's Ghost (1944)
Movie Rank - 5.5/10
Universal’s The Mummy’s Ghost was just another symptom of the studio’s decline and while it’s not the worst of its kind the poor acting and worst dialogue doesn’t make this any easier to get through, though it being only an hour long certainly helps.