“The Mummy’s Ghost” was the fourth film to feature Lon Chaney Jr as Kharis. Released in 1944, ‘Ghost’ continues the B-movie trend of “The Mummy” series.
The Mummy’s Ghost isn’t that bad. It’s not terribly good, especially considering the beautiful 1932 original that started the whole series, but then The Mummy’s Ghost is a descendant of 1940’s The Mummy’s Hand. Released July 7, 1944, one could easily imagine The Mummy’s Ghost as a summertime monster movie opening during today’s times. It’s breezy, the plot is standard B-movie fare, and despite everything else, the ending is actually quite shocking. SPOILER ALERT – The girl “dies.”
What’s most notable about The Mummy’s Ghost is it’s direct and intense runtime of 60 minutes; it has Lon Chaney Jr back as Kharis;
…and the gorgeous Ramsay Ames starring as the leading lady, Amina Monsori. She’s the girlfriend of a college student played by Robert Lowery. Her role as Amina Monsori is written as a pale imitation of Zita Johann‘s character in the 1932 classic and this is one of the recurring themes in nearly every Mummy movie. We learn that Amina Monsori is of Egyptian descent and that whenever anyone speaks of Egypt her mind grows hazy and distracted. Not far into the The Mummy’s Ghost, Amina develops a strange birthmark on her wrist (symbol of the Priests of Arkam) after encountering Kharis in a trance. It turns out that Amina is the reincarnated version of Kharis’ great love, Princess Ananka and after John Carradine’s Yousef Bey learns of this, he self-servingly helps Kharis track the young woman to her home.
One of the twists of the fourth installment in Universal’s The Mummy’s Ghost is that, much like The Mummy’s Tomb, the character of Yousef Bey eventually betrays the creature he’s supposed to be in service of. What is it with the High Priests of Karnak/Arkam and everyone that George Zucco’s Andoheb recruits?
Yousef Bey, played excellently by John Carradine, falls in love with Amina and there’s a solidly straight B-movie scene that has Carradine narrate Yousef Bey’s thoughts as he begins to contemplate keeping Amina alive as his bride. The scene is played well and to add to the frantic energy of the scene, Kharis lumbers in and catches Yousef Bey. What happens? The Mummy kills him, of course.
The extremely intense ending of The Mummy’s Ghost has a mob of people chase after Kharis and Amina, but their attempts to rescue the girl ultimately fail. The final scene is quite shocking as we see Kharis carry Amina, who transforms into Ananka, into the swamp bog. Really! That’s how it ends.
As with most of Universal’s later Mummy movies, Ghost was filmed in a rather short time and other than Jack Pierce’s fantastic make-up work, there really isn’t much of a budget to the film. Despite the classier feel and tone to the movie, due to it being a Universal picture, The Mummy’s Ghost is purely a B-movie at its best.
The film was directed by Reginald Le Borg and, if you ask me, was better made than the previous entry, The Mummy’s Tomb. What stands out about this particular installment is its lite attempts at offering something new with The Mummy. While it relies on the standard tropes of a sect of high priests, your usual recipe of Tana leaves and a full moon, a smoking pool, and themes of love/resurrection, The Mummy’s Ghost does begin a new story as opposed to being a direct sequel in the way Tomb was to Hand.
The Brooklyn born Ramsay Ames was a real star in the 1940’s. Despite not much being written about her, Ames does have a devoted fan base and there’s even a pretty authoritative entry about her over at Obscure Actresses. She stood out as Amina Mansori and was just as captivating in her role as much as Lon Chaney Jr was terrifying as Kharis (especially in the museum scene where he starts breaking everything.)
Lon Chaney Jr, once again, took to the bandages and while The Wolf Man was his best, Chaney Jr gives Kharis his all. If it wasn’t for his performance as a lumbering monster, our preconceived notions of mummies probably wouldn’t exist today. It’s very much Chaney Jr’s Kharis that most people identify or think of, even if they aren’t necessarily familiar with these films.
While The Mummy’s Ghost isn’t nearly the slasher pic that The Mummy’s Tomb had become, there’s not overly that much going on with Griffin Jay and Henry Sucher’s script. What works best about the latter Universal Mummy films, especially The Mummy’s Ghost is that they’re entertaining, fun, and simple. Also, if you could quote lines from the film and reference “The Mapleton Monster” and various headlines that are shown in the film, you’ll probably be able to hold your own at the next monster convention or conversation with Universal Monsters enthusiasts.
What were your thoughts on The Mummy’s Ghost? Did you enjoy it? Would anyone have rather seen Acquanetta in the role of Amina rather than Ramsey Ames? Make sure to leave your comments below.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)