The Mummy’s Curse was released just five months after The Mummy’s Ghost which gives you an idea of how fast Universal was churning out these films. The final entry in the Mummy series (not counting the one-off spoof with Abbott and Costello) is the weakest and oddest.
When you start watching The Mummy’s Curse you might think that you missed the previous film. In the final scene of The Mummy’s Ghost, we saw Kharis walking off under the waters of a swamp in Mapleton, MA, carrying the body of his beloved Princess Ananka. Without any explanation the location shifts to the Louisiana bayou. That was one magic swamp!
Two museum representatives Dr. James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe), arrive at a development site to try and find the two mummies rumored to be buried there. Unknown to Halsey, Zandaab is secretly a High Priest of Arkam and with his acolyte Ragheb, intends to use the tana leaves to revive and control Kharis. Meanwhile, in one of the series most chilling moments, Ananka rises up out of the mud and muck, unsteadily walking forward like a classic George Romero zombie. It’s actually an extremely effective scene. She soon washes away the mud in a pond revealing her true, beautiful form of Ananka (Virginia Christine).
Ananka is suffering from amnesia although her knowledge of ancient Egypt is astounding. As Dr. Halsey attempts to help her, Kharis attacks, killing another doctor and whisking Ananka away to a rundown old monastery. Dr. Halsey attempts to rescue her as Zandaab, Ragheb, and Kharis are soon at each other’s throats.
Not only does The Mummy’s Curse follow the same, familiar formula as the previous films but compounds the stale plot by re-using footage from the earlier entries. The priests of Karnak/Arkam might have ruled the world had they not become infatuated with a different woman in each film, ultimately leading to their undoing.
While Lon Chaney Jr., had some quality co-stars to work with in the two previous mummy films like John Carradine, Turhan Bey, George Zucco, and Ramsay Ames, he’s pretty much on his own in The Mummy’s Curse, surrounded by a group of lesser-known performers.
The unexplained change in location from Mapleton, MA to Louisiana was just plain weird and it brought nothing to the film. Still, if there was one positive it cemented Chaney Jr. as the only actor to portray all of Universal’s “big four” monsters: The Wolfman, Frankenstein (in The Ghost of Frankenstein), Dracula (in Son of Dracula), and The Mummy.
The best thing about the four Mummy sequels is that you can watch all four in just over two hours, about the runtime of an average movie today. Even The Mummy’s Curse is worth a couple of handfuls of popcorn.