On this DVD, we find sequels to a sequel of a sort of sequel. 1944 saw the release of The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse, both of which continued the tale told in 1942’s The Mummy’s Tomb, which furthered the story of 1940’s The Mummy’s Hand, which mildly related to 1932’s The Mummy. Got that? Good - now forget it, for none of it matters during these tired and lame adventures.
Though both hit in 1944, Ghost came first. During the prior two films, we met some archaeologists who “defiled” an Egyptian tomb, for which some religious dudes and their pet mummy Kharis (played by Tom Tyler in Hand but portrayed by Lon Chaney, Jr. in the three sequels) came after them. By the end of Tomb, they’d pretty much gotten them all, but this also resulted in the apparent destruction of Kharis.
Of course, that wasn’t the case. Kharis back for more fun, but here he seems more intent on reuniting with his lost love Ananka. She featured in the background during the first two films, but in Ghost she takes over the body of a lovely Egyptian woman named Amina (Ramsay Ames) who attends college in the States. This occurs slowly while her boyfriend Tom (Robert Lowery) tries to stop the events.
While this may sound like the film differs from the events of the first two, it really doesn’t. Ghost is little more than a rehash of the bland chase scenes found in Tomb. Kharis goes after folks, he kills some, people try to stop him - blah blah blah. For the most part, this was a dull and lifeless regurgitation of material that was tired from the start.
Only two factors made Ghost stand out slightly. Actually, three if we consider the inane fact that no actual ghost appears in the movie - mummies aren’t ghosts! - but Tomb spent little time in one of those locations as well, so I won’t worry about it. Easily the strongest character in Ghost was a heroic dog. He showed more personality than any of the humans, and he appeared smarter as well. Build the movie around him and we might have had something.
The other element related to the film’s ending, so stop here if you want to avoid a spoiler. Bizarrely, the blurb on the DVD’s case states that “The Mummy’s Ghost unearths hope for romantics everywhere with its surprising finale!” Actually, the movie featured one of the more downbeat conclusions I’ve seen. It was a surprise, as I didn’t expect such a negative ending, but I wouldn’t regard it as being hopeful for romantics. It just felt like it was different for the sake of being different, not to tell an interesting story.
Ultimately, The Mummy’s Ghost was a pretty bad movie. It just reiterated the same basic story already seen in earlier flicks, and it did little to make it seem different or interesting. Actually, it wasn’t quite as bad as The Mummy’s Tomb, its predecessor, but the improvements were marginal at best.
The Mummy’s Ghost appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not atrocious, Ghost offered one of the weaker pictures to be found in the 12 movies on the double feature DVDs.
Sharpness looked adequate much of the time, but the image also tended to be mildly soft during a lot of the film. The picture came across as a little fuzzy and hazy on occasion, and it seemed less crisp and distinct than I expected. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, but black levels were a bit weak. Those tones came across as somewhat drab and muddy, and contrast wasn’t strong. Parts of the film appeared too bright, which led to a mildly washed-out appearance. Shadow detail was adequate, though these factors made low-light sequences look bland and flat.
As usual for an older movie, print flaws caused some significant concerns. I saw a relatively heavy mix of speckles, nicks, light grain, vertical lines, grit, blotches and other defects. Even for the film’s vintage, these came across as somewhat too heavy. Ultimately, I thought The Mummy’s Ghost earned a grade as high as a “C-“ simply due to its advanced age, but it remained a fairly weak picture across the board.
The monaural soundtrack of The Mummy’s Ghost fared no better than its image. Most of the elements appeared to be acceptably distinct, though some distortion interfered with effects at times. Speech was flat and lifeless, but the lines remained intelligible. Music and effects seemed to be thin and without range as well, but they were adequate for their age.
The Mummy movies all suffered from problems related to background noise, and these were quite intrusive during Ghost. Some crackling and popping marred the presentation, but the biggest concern came from a rather loud hum. That factor became a definite nuisance, especially since I experienced it with so many of the other films. Ultimately, this was a below-average soundtrack for an older movie, so don’t expect very good audio.
The supplements found of The Mummy’s Ghost match up closely with those found on the other Universal Monster double feature DVDs. We get the film’s trailer plus some good text Production Notes. In addition, we find Cast and Filmmakers biographies of director Reginald Le Borg and actors John Carradine, Ramsey Ames, Barton MacLane, George Zucco, Robert Lowery, and Lon Chaney, Jr. Those offer short but decent looks at their careers.
Picture/Sound/Extras: The Mummy's Curse C+/D+/D-
The Mummy’s Curse picks up where The Mummy’s Ghost finished, though it moves into the future. Bad sign number one: the story seems like it should take place in the same locale as Ghost and Tomb, but oddly we’ve left the US northeast and headed to Bayou country in Louisiana. Why? I have no idea - I guess they thought it’d look cool.
Curse also takes place 25 years after the conclusion of Ghost. Somebody needs to figure out the timeline of all these films, but this is rendered difficult because none of the movies clearly states a year. Tomb occurred 30 years following Hand, which took place in some undetermined time, but I can’t recall if Ghost went far into the future past Tomb. (Hey, all of these suckers blend together after a while!) I think Ghost stayed fairly contemporary with Tomb. Some feel Tomb took place in the early Forties because the lead goes into the Army. Since he was drafted as an officer, that makes sense, so I feel Tomb and Ghost existed in then-contemporary times, while Hand was from the 1910s.
In any case, Curse presents events that are supposed to be at least 55 years after Hand; it’s amazing how much all of these societies look like 1940s America! I guess they figured no one would realize that Curse was supposed to take place in the late Sixties, for there are no adaptations or nods to the then-future. If they couldn’t figure out what part of the country to place the story, I can’t expect them to worry about details like that either, I suppose.
In any case, Curse gives us more of what we saw in the first three films. Kharis again tries to hook up with Ananka, as the college babe of Ghost has become a full-fledged mummy herself in the interim. Both scare a lot of folks and wreak moderate havoc. Excitement ensues.
At least in theory it does, but the results look an awful lot like the film’s predecessors. One problem with Curse is that it suffers from an overabundance of flashbacks. That issue plagued Tomb as well, which used far too much of its brief running time to show us what happened in the first flick. Curse isn’t as over the top in this regard, but it definitely gives us too much backstory.
That’s a problem largely because none of it matters. These films can’t keep any facts straight, so why bother with continuity and history? Frankly, I’m surprised I can recall anything about the last three flicks, as they all seem like the same piece. Returns continued to diminish throughout the series, as I got more and more tired with the rehashed antics of the mummy. Granted, these films weren’t meant to be watched back-to-back-to-back-to-back in one pathetic marathon, but I can’t imagine that The Mummy’s Curse would be interesting under the best of circumstances.
By the way, the DVD’s case tries to obscure the film’s geographic inconsistencies. It states “the trouble begins when mummy Kharis is recovered and transported to Cajun country for study by a bunch of prodding archaeologists”. However, that’s totally wrong. The movie features no material anywhere other than Louisiana. While the archaeologists do seek the mummies, they don’t transport anybody anywhere; it’s all in the Bayou. Actually, the movie tries to make us believe all the prior events happened in the South; it’s very odd.
The Mummy’s Curse appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although it presented a variety of its own concerns, Curse at least improved on the visuals found during its three predecessors. It was a mild step up, but I’ll take it.
Unlike Ghost, Curse presented a fairly crisp and distinct image. Some softness still intruded at times, but those concerns were much less severe, and most of the movie looked adequately clear and accurate. Moiré effects and jagged edges still presented no problems, though I saw the usual mix of print flaws. Curse featured the same speckles, grain, nicks, etc. witnessed during the other movies, though they seemed less intense here.
Black levels looked nicer during Curse. Some contrast problems occurred, however, and shadow detail could be a little weak; both of those resulted mainly from the use of day for night photography, a process that often renders the image excessively dark. Otherwise, the movie showed good blacks and contrast. Curse wasn’t a great image, but it seemed to be satisfactory for its age.
Unfortunately, the monaural audio of The Mummy’s Curse suffered from its own problems. The movie presented a somewhat muddy mix that seemed to present excessively heavy low-end; the bass wasn’t deep, but the audio stayed in the lower registers and could be murky. Dialogue usually seemed to be acceptably clear and intelligible, but I heard some edginess to lines on occasion. The effects and music sounded mildly shrill as well.
Once again background flaws marred the presentation. I heard some popping and clicks, and another annoying hum appeared throughout the film. Overall the audio wasn’t atrocious for its era, but I thought the soundtrack of The Mummy’s Curse was weak nonetheless.
The supplements of The Mummy’s Curse strongly echo those found with The Mummy’s Ghost and all the other double features. We find the movie’s trailer and additional solid text “Production Notes”. Yup, more “Cast and Filmmakers” biographies appear as well; we get entries for director Leslie Goodwins and actors Peter Coe, Kay Harding, Martin Kosleck, Virginia Christine, Kurt Katch, and Lon Chaney, Jr. These remain short but interesting.
Making recommendations in regard to double feature DVDs can be tricky. What if I like one of the films but hate the other? Happily, my job was made easy by the quality of both The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse. Both were drab and lifeless exercises in repetition that did little more than rehash stories better told elsewhere. Both movies suffered from somewhat weak presentations as well; visual quality was decent at best, and their audio tracks seemed poor even after I factor in their age. Add to that a lack of substantial extras and this DVD should be skipped by all but the most fervent Mummy fans.