Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Mummy's Ghost is a lean-mean Universal programmer from long ago

The Mummy's Ghost, 1944, Universal, 61 minutes, B and W. Directed by Reginald Le Borg. Starring Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis, John Carradine as Yousef Bey, Ramsay Ames as Amina Mansori, Robert Lowery as Tom Hervey, Frank Reicher as Prof. Matthew Norman, Barton MacLane as Inspector Walgreen, and George Zucco as Andoheb, High Priest of Arkan. Schlock-Meter rating: Eight stars out of 10.

The Mummy's Ghost is pulp horror at its finest. I confess to loving this lean, mean never-a-wasted-minute B programmer from Universal. There's no excess fat to trim from this film. It's like watching a good comic strip -- every scene is key to the horror tale. The film never takes itself too seriously, but at the same time does not descend to camp level. It's a damn good hour's entertainment. Film students who want to see how a good B film could provide fun to 1940s movie-goers should make The Mummy's Ghost required viewing. It would have been great to view this in a theater with say, House of Frankenstein.

Here's the plot: Egyptian cult disciple Carradine is commanded by a high priest (Zucco, in a wonderful small part)to revive mummy Kharis and find the long lost princess Ananka, Kharis' love who was taken from his tomb. This leads them to a small university community (Mapleton) where a professor of Egyptology revives Kharis with boiled leaves of tanna. The professor is murdered for his troubles, and soon Kharis and Carradine narrow their search to a pretty coed (Ames) with Egyptian blood, who it is suspected, is the reincarnated Ananka. Her boyfriend (Hervey) tries to protect her from both the mummy Kharis and suspicious townfolk who suspect she's part of the latest round of mummy murders. The ending is dark, which is surprising for a horror film of that era, but still very effective.

The Mummy's Ghost is one of a several-part Universal 1940s series offering that featured the mummy Kharis and his search for revenge and his lost love. Ghost was the second-to-last of the series. Chaney was Kharis in all but the first film, The Mummy's Hand (in which Tom Tyler was an effective Kharis). Surprisingly, Chaney is the weakest link in this otherwise tight, effective thriller. He shambles around awkwardly and inspires few shivers. Carradine and especially Zucco are very good as cult disciples. All in all, a great little film and definitely worth owning as an example of entertaining by-the-numbers B-movie filmmaking. Warch the trailer below.

-- Doug Gibson

1 comment:

RudiZink said...

very Kewl website, Doug Gibson!