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Click above to purchase "The Mummy's Ghost/The Mummy's Curse" at amazon.com

 

The Mummy's Ghost/The Mummy's Curse

review by Anthony D.

Starring Lon Chaney, John Carradine, Ramsay Ames, Virginia Christine

Running Times: 61 minutes each

Written by Griffin Jay, Henry Sucher and Brenda Weisberg; Bernard Schubert

Directed by Reginald Le Borg; Leslie Goodwins

Studio: Universal

Retail Price: $29.95

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Production Notes, Cast and Filmmakers, Recomendations DVD-ROM: Weblink, DVD Newsletter

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, French Subtitles, English Closed Captioning, Chapter Search

These are to use an overused paraphrase, "your father's mummies," these non-computer-generated, slowly shambling incarnations of Kharis, now running on empty as the successful Universal Mummy movies reach their fifth and sixth treks to the silver screen. Both "The Mummy's Ghost" and "The Mummy's Curse," starring the inestimable Lon Chaney as Kharis, were released in 1942; today's audiences can find them joined together on one Double Feature disc as part of Universal's continued dedication to their classic monsters. Neither film will ever be mistaken for a true classic, they both exhibit clearly that the Mummy series were quickly grinding to a halt - - proving once and for all that "sequelitis" is not a recent discovery.

These are to use an overused paraphrase, "your father's mummies," these non-computer-generated, slowly shambling incarnations of Kharis, now running on empty as the successful Universal Mummy movies reach their fifth and sixth treks to the silver screen. Both "The Mummy's Ghost" and "The Mummy's Curse," starring the inestimable Lon Chaney as Kharis, were released in 1942; today's audiences can find them joined together on one Double Feature disc as part of Universal's continued dedication to their classic monsters. Neither film will ever be mistaken for a true classic, they both exhibit clearly that the Mummy series were quickly grinding to a halt - - proving once and for all that "sequelitis" is not a recent discovery.

These two features somehow forget the roots of John Balderston's original "The Mummy's" script, which though focusing on the fantastic, was rooted in the reality of Balderston having been one of the on-site journalists who covered the unveiling of King Tutenkhamen's tomb in the 1920's; thus creating the mythology associated with mummies and curses. Her you might just as well have called the films (either one of there are remarkable interchangeable) "Mummies Across America," for in the first installment, "The Mummy's Ghost" we're in the tranquil suburban college town of Mapleton, somewhere in New England; while the latter takes us to the swamps of Louisiana twenty-five years later.

"The Mummy's Ghost" has Yousef Bey, a high priest, seeking the remains of Kharis and the Princess Ananka, in order to return them to Egypt. He arrives with his tana leaf tea a tad too late, however, as a certain college professor has already brewed a batch, which awakened Kharis, and proved deadly to himself. One of his students, the lovely Ramsay Ames, seems to have a psychic connection to Kharis - - as she also heeds the call of the tana leaves. This doesn't sit well with her over-eager boyfriend, or the police force, who find her roaming in a daze outside of the house where Kharis has killed the professor. It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to figure out that Amina is the reincarnated Ananka, or that the rest of the movie will have the usual vigilante groups chasing down Kharis. Bey however, once arriving on the scene, forskakes his vows to Karnak, and wants Amina for his very own. A struggle ensues between the priest and the mummy, which ends with the mummy carrying off his true love into the swamps of Massachusetts.

Twenty-five years later, in "The Mummy's Curse," the loving couple are awakened by laborers draining the bayou swamp somewhere in the Deep South. What is the logic behind this move? How in the world did these remains float from Massachusetts all the way down to the Delta? Who knows? Ananka certainly doesn't. As embodied by Virginia Christine, she is suffering from memory loss. Baby boomers will certainly be suffering from a caffeine attack while watching her, for it isn't a subliminal message thrown into "The Mummy's Curse" that causes caffeine cravings in viewers, it's the subconscious memory of Miss Christine's foray into television land as Mrs. Olson, spokeswoman for Folger's Coffee. ! Once again, defying logic, a priest of Arkam is seeking the remains of Ananka and Kharis. Just how many religious sects were there worshiping this duo? What happened to Karnak? Thank God this movie has the divine Tante Berthe as a character for a while...even though her ditty at the beginning may not make much sense, at least she is the only voice of reason in the film! With and ending that paved the way for yet another installment, "The Mummy's Curse" finally saw the sad demise of Universal's mummy franchise...until Stephen Sommers came along with Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo a couple of years back.

As befitting the year of their birth, these mummies are coming at you in a full-framed, balck and white transfer. Neither one looks bad at all, both possessing a great gray-scale. Of the titles in this collection, these two are by far the best looking presentations. Universal surely didn't do a restoration on these monstrous mummies, perhaps 1942 was a very good year for film stock as well as for tana leaves, or tanna (which is how the English closed captions read). Creepy shadows are well-defined with a bare minimum of grain. I noticed very little enhancement, though at times, there is haloing. Of course, there are minor instances of print wear and tear, and an occasional speckle.

As always with the double feature discs, the mummies are in mono. Tante Berthe's song at the opening of "The Mummy's Curse" is quite a bit of frivolity, and presented faithfully. Only on occasion, the musical stems are a bit on the harsh, thin side; but dialogue remains remarkably understandable. Sound effects sound obviously manufactured. It's odd, with the Creole setting of the latter film that there is no French audio track. These mummies are only available in English or Spanish with Closed Captioning for the Hearing Impaired in English.

Tom Weaver once again contributes knowing factoids about the films under Production Notes and "Cast and Filmmakers,"offer up tidy factoids, but no in depth analyses. Trailers for both films, both for subsequent re-issues, and amusing in their own way are the only real bonus. Universal also includes a page of recommendations, featuring four of their double feature series titles, as well as information as to how to subscribe to the studio's online DVD newsletter.

If you've been following the release of these Universal Double Feature discs, then you already know that the value is in the entertainment. Both films are very entertaining, though neither approaches any of the previous mummy movies. The top-notch talent on screen - as well as the character of Kharis - deserve better. It's also quite a treat to see the very young, very appealing Virginia Christine and Ramsay Ames as the mummy's reincarnated love.

(2.5/5 - both)

(3.5/5 - both)

(3/5 - both)

(1.5/5)

(3/5, NOT an average)

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