Mummy’s Curse, The (1945)
Cast: Lon Chaney, Dennis Moore, Kay Harding, Peter Coe, Virginia Christine, Addison Richards
Director: Leslie Goodwins
Nutshell: Death stalks the sleepy town of Mapleton once more as we find that “Draining The Swamp” has some deadly after effects and the arrival of a weird foreigner is always an ominous sign.
The Mummy’s Curse is fourth sequel in Universal’s Mummy series came rapidly on the heels of The Mummy’s Ghost but this time rather than just regurgitate the previous films, The Mummy’s Curse attempts a few twists on the staple plot with fairly satisfying results.
It’s been over twenty-five years since Mapleton was besieged with the terror of the Mummy but fortunately for the locals it came to an end when Kharis was submerged in the murky depths of the old swamp adjacent to the town taking poor Ananka with him. Ever since then Mapleton has seen a period of peace and calm and also had seemingly an influx of colour from the South with the arrival of some Cajun workers who hang out at a tavern knows as Berthe’s.
There is a debate going on in Mapleton with planners bent on “draining the swamp” while the workers who are to work on the site are adamant that they don’t want to have anything to do with the swamp believing it to be haunted by The Mummy. They believe that if the swamp is drained it will unleash the wrath of the Mummy all over again and are especially suspicious as a body of one of their fellow workers has been discovered nearby, murdered.
Soon the tractors arrive on site and the swamp is drained as planned. Meanwhile, unfortunately for the residents of Mapleton, another slimy looking foreigner from Egypt arrives wearing a spiffing Fez but otherwise seems fairly civil in his tie, jacket and trousers. Unfortunately, Mapleton’s history with immigrants hasn’t been positive experience because each time somebody wearing odd robes and funny hats with weird accents has arrive on these shores, terrible things have happened and the good Christian way of live threatened by strange and evil pagan rituals of far flung foreign lands.
Soon enough we discover that the overtly benign foreigner throws off his “western garb” and dons his robes and his amulets revealing himself as the new High Priest of Arkam. It is he who has used his ferret like accomplice Ragheb to murder the Cajun worker and to find a suitable place where Kharis can be resurrected once again with the help of the sacred taana leaves.
Its not long before Lon Chaney is shuffling about in his signature style stalking all sorts of hapless victims in the search for his princess who he finds has emerged from the swamp and is being taken care of by a local Doctor.
The sequence where Ananka emerges from the earth that’s been freshly churned by the tractor is a memorable one and a precursor to many of the best zombie sequences to follow in decades to come. The earth moves to have a human hand emerge from within and then gradually a chalk white figure emerges from the earth covered in silt and finds strength in the rays of the sun. she staggers around until she cleanses herself in a stream and is then rescued by a worker who takes her to Madame Berthe so she can look after the girl who is seemingly in shock and unable to speak.
When Kharis finds that the love of his life Ananka is back from the swamp and currently in the hands of the local town doctor his sole aim is to reunite with her and he will kill anyone that dares to get in his way.
In the build-up to the climax there is lust and deceit and treachery as Ragheb turns on the High Priest but Kharis turns his rage and fury onto Ragheb who tries to lock himself in a cell but neither metal, nor brick nor stone will now be able to hold the enraged Kharis who literally tears the entire structure down burying himself and Ragheb within the rubble.
Though The Mummy’s Curse has some plot issues such as why suddenly is there a “southern vibe” to Mapleton that doesn’t at all make sense as well as the use of some passages from the previous Mummy films which was not appreciated by critics. However, the film at least attempts to add a slight twist or two to the stock Mummy storyline and Ananka’s emergence from the depths is a wonder to behold.
On the whole The Mummy’s Curse holds up perfectly well and doesn’t pale in comparison with the two sequels that preceded it. Chaney is perfection with his lurching gait and body language while Peter Coe impresses as the mild mannered but deceptive and wonderfully named Dr. Ilzor Zandaab/The High Preist of Arkam.