Fifth time round on the raggedy, dusty carousel that is the classic Universal Monsters Mummy series and we find a movie that’s very appropriately titled indeed. After all, ever since the movies began a running continuity with 1940’s The Mummy’s Hand, every release since has been cursed with a staggering sense of deja vu that’s held you in a grip far tighter than Kharis’ throttling hands ever could.
Matters weren’t helped any further by the fact that The Mummy’s Curse was released barely six months after The Mummy’s Ghost which must have really doubled down on convincing audiences that Universal’s sandy assasin had finally run out of juice and needed a long rest.
But is the final straight movie of the Mummy’s original run (he was destined to meet Abbott And Costello eleven years later) really such a bland retread, or does this Curse still have any surprises left for any poor soul who stands paralysed with fear at its approach?
Many more years have passed since the living Mummy Kharis and his equally dried up love Ananka finally had their long awaited reunion at the bottom of the swamps of rural Massachusetts (?), but now the Southern Engineering Company is trying to drain the swamps for the good of the community who confusingly now all seem to be from Louisiana. Whether Kharis has somehow drifted some 1588 miles via an interconnected network of super swamps, it’s never made clear, but the workers are all caught up in the superstitious fear that the legend of the Mummy and aren’t afraid to let their bosses know it.
However, yet another high priest of the Arkam sect has arrived to try and take the wayward Mummy and his desicated bae back home to Egypt and his sinister man servant has already located Kharis and has stashed him in the ruins of a local church and they resurrect him once again to locate his lost love Ananka – because that’s never gone wrong before. But unbeknownst to everyone, Ananka has dragged herself from the sludgy waters thanks to the resurrecting power of the sun after partially uncovered by workmen; and she is taken in by villagers due to suffering from an understandable bout of memory loss. Escaping from the Mummy’s grasp, the now-youthful Ananka ends up hanging out with Dr. James Halsey who has ironically mounted an expedition to find the two mummies in the first place, but the pure simping power of Kharis simply will not be denied and unless he’s reunited with enternal plus one, he’ll leave a string of choked out bodies in his shambling wake…
So if I’m being honest, this is pretty much where my patience for this series finally unravels like the bandages of the onesie of our titular star, as the sheer lack of originality was simply too much for me to tolerate.
It’s was a common problem for the solo sequels during the dying years of these horror characters that new ideas end up being few and far between, but taken utterly separately, each movie does admittedly give you what you’d expect from a classic creature feature. However, when placed on a timeline of release, you can see the stubbon unwillingness to break from the established formula as plainly as Kharis himself as he stumbers awkwardly from murder to murder like a lost drunk whose missed his last train home.
Once again we sit through film where yet another priest of Arkam turns up to bring his moldy charge home, we get another lecture on the correct use of the life-giving tana leaves and yet another batch of sequences where Lon Chaney Jr’s Kharis manages to easily kill a bunch of people simply because they’re too terrified to move. If fact the only breaks from the norm are that the sinister high priest doesn’t fall in love with the female lead (yay!) – although his even more sinister henchman does (drat!) – and that Ananka also fully resurrects this time round only to have an extremely similar arc to the last movie where the female lead turned out to be the ancient princess reincarnated.
It all turns out to be pretty frustrating and its release right on the heels of the previous movie must have been immensely irritating for the audience at the time, I mean look at it this way, Friday The 13th sequels are hardly dissimilar but at least we didn’t get parts 2 and 3 in the same calendar year…
It’s a shame, because when separated from its identikit predecessors, The Mummy’s Curse gives you everything you could possibly want from a cheesy, 1940’s horror flick and even has a few images that stand out. One scene has a particularly prolonged strangling cast up on a wall, the struggles silhouetted in shadow as the victim slowly succumbs; while another has the memorable sight of Ananka pull herself from the muck of her temporary resting place and stagger around encrusted with mud like she’s turned up for Night Of The Living Dead twenty four years too early.
Another amusing thing – although the filmmakers probably wouldn’t think so – is fact that no one seems to know when and where the film is actually supposed to be set. I’ve already mentioned that the film should still be set in Massachusetts but the fact we now have characters named Goobie and Cajun Joe who sport extraordinarily over the top accents suggest that the producers have decided to set it somewhere else and just not acknowledge it. The other thing is that when you do the math concerning the four movies rhat featured the Kharis Mummy and add together all the time between movies where the dusty bugger spends dormant, waiting to be brought back to life, The Mummy’s Curse should actually be set sometime in the mid to late nineties!
A competent horror from Hollywood bygone era that’s hugely let down by not having a single original idea, The Mummy’s Curse is ok firca random late night viewing, but at this point I’m positively relishing the arrival of Abbott And Costello to give the moldering sod a much needed boot in his bandaged butt.
That’s a wrap.