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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

SHOW ME: The Mummy's Ghost (1944)


Who's The Mummy? Lon Chaney as Kharis
Mummy's Love? Ramsay Ames as Amina Mansori/Ananka
Where? Egypt, America (Mapleton)
How Long? 60 minutes

In Egypt, the ageing High Priest of Arkam (Karnak in the previous films), tasks Yousef Bey (John Carradine) with retrieving the living mummy Kharis (who has somehow survived the conflagration at the end of the last movie) and the body of Princess Ananka.

However, back in the States, at a university in Mapleton, Massachusetts, the mummy's rampage is being taught as fact by Professor Matthew Norman (Frank Reicher), who later recreates the tana leaves recipe and accidentally summons Kharis... who breaks his neck!

Yousef Bey arrives in town just as the authorities are whipping up the mob for another mummy hunt, so he contacts Kharis and they head to the Scripps Museum where Ananka's mummified corpse is on display.

Unexpectedly, when Kharis goes to remove Ananka's body from its sarcophagus, it disintegrates because her soul has left it and transferred itself to the nearest young Egyptian woman, Amina Mansori (Ramsay Ames), girlfriend of the odious and condescending student Tom Hervey (Robert Lowery).

As a witness to Professor Norman's murder, she's already been told not to leave town, but Tom knows better and has plans to take her to his family in New York for some rest and recuperation.

Following up on the break-in (and murder of a guard) at the museum, as well as the professor's death, big city police inspector Walgreen (Barton MacLane) hits on the idea of - with the assistance of the museum's Dr Ayad (Lester Sharp) - of luring the mummy back to Professor Norman's house, with the tana leaves concoction, and trapping it in a ten foot pit!

But Kharis and Bey have other ideas, and kidnap Amina Mansori.

Unfortunately, once again, as we've seen with frightening regularity in these films, the priest ends up falling for Amina and decides, instead of returning her to Egypt as he was supposed to, that he's going to use the magical leaves to grant both her and him eternal life so they can run away together (not that she ever consents to any of this nonsense).

Kharis isn't best pleased with this turn of events and kills Bey, before making off towards nearby swampland with Amina's unconscious - and rapidly ageing - body, pursued by a mob of locals led by Tom Hervey and the police.

Events then take an unexpectedly dark turn as the film dives headlong into a messed up, nihilistic ending with the mob standing impotently by as Kharis (still with Amina's body, now a grey-haired husk) walks into the swamp.

Although stricken with some am-dram-level acting (Robert Lowery, I'm looking at you in particular) as well as a penchant for recycling plenty of plot points from previous Mummy movies, The Mummy's Ghost stands out for its unremittingly bleak ending.

How did Kharis survive the fire at the end of The Mummy's Tomb? Who knows? Magic reasons, probably.

It's also the slimmest of justifications for calling this film The Mummy's "Ghost", but then all the adventures after the original seem to have been gifted with totally random - and meaningless - names.

It's best not to overthink it.

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