Leslie Goodwins, 1944
Starring: Lon Chaney, Jr., Peter Coe, Virginia Christine
Thankfully the last entry in Universal’s unabashedly painful Kharis series, this follows basically the same plot as The Mummy’s Hand, The Mummy’s Tomb, and The Mummy’s Ghost with a few notable twists. The series in general hasn’t made a whole lot of sense, but this final film really takes the cake. In an effort to follow the bizarre timeline set up by the earlier films, this actually takes place in the mid-‘90s, though it still looks a hell of a lot like the ‘40s. And, to make matters worse, the film is inexplicably set in Louisiana. The Mummy’s Hand took place in Egypt (which makes sense, as these are films about a mummy), while the following two were bizarrely set in the Massachusetts suburbs. At the end of the last film, The Mummy’s Ghost, the mummies of Kharis and his beloved Princess Ananka sink into the swamp (?) of Massachusetts.
In The Mummy’s Curse, the mummies arise again in a swamp, though the film never bothers to explain how we came to Louisiana. Kharis and Ananka are revived when an engineering company drains a local swamp, though the Cajun workers are afraid of the legend of the two mummies (really). Two doctors from a local museum arrive to locate and retrieve the mummies. One of the two doctors, Dr. Zandaab, secretly meets up with Ragheb an Egyptian priest, who has reclaimed Kharis’s body and hidden him. Zandaab and Ragheb perform the tana leaf ritual and resurrect Kharis, who is desperate to find Ananka. Meanwhile, she has risen on her own in the guise of a beautiful young woman, but she is lost and confused. The rest of the film basically follows Kharis’s desperate attempts to get Ananka back, which often result in murder. Ragheb, meanwhile, has his eye on a local girl, Betty, but Kharis violently intervenes.
This is fortunately Lon Chaney, Jr.’s last performance as Kharis, and though he was pretty awful throughout, this is definitely his bulkiest and most awkward turn in the role. Also, for some reason, even though Kharis is supposed to be a murderous mummy, he intervenes on Betty’s behalf and gets violent revenge on Ragheb for his betrayal and deviation from the plan (uniting Kharis and Ananka).
There aren’t a lot of positive things I can say about this film. Virginia Christine (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Folgers commercial lady later in life) is somewhat compelling as Ananka and her rise from the swamp is probably the best scene in the film. There’s another decent scene where Kharis murders an old Cajun woman who is sheltering the newly awakened, confused Ananka. Unfortunately the woman has a musical number, so it’s probably for the best that Kharis dispatched her as quickly as he did. The rest of the actors are incredibly dull, no doubt hampered by the very boring script writing. As is par for the course in these later, bottom of the barrel Universal film, there is some recycled footage from The Mummy and The Mummy’s Hand.
I can’t recommend The Mummy's Curse, but if you really have a powerful desire to see it, it is available as part of The Mummy: The Legacy Collection set. This film is an absolute mess and basically rehashes much of the superior The Mummy’s Ghost, except with that bizarre Louisiana swamp setting.