The Mummy’s Curse (1944, Leslie Goodwins)

The Mummy’s Curse feels like a Universal attempt at a Val Lewton picture. It’s from 1944, so Lewton’s modern horror pictures had already come out. It’s hard to believe Universal changed their approach to monster movies so radically between this picture and the previous Mummy entry. Curse is set on the bayou in Louisiana (Lewton did non-standard, at least for the budget, settings) and it principally concerns a reincarnated ancient Egyptian princess with amnesia. She even resembles Cat People lead Simone Simon.

Unfortunately, it’s still a movie about a mummy walking around and killing people. Worse, the make-up on the Mummy is pretty weak this time around–there’s a big eye hole in the mask this time. Previously, one could pretend the Mummy was wrapped in ancient cloth… now it’s way too clear it’s a rubber mask.

These elements–though the Louisiana setting is problematic, but mostly because it’s an affected locale instead of an actual one–aside, the film doesn’t have much going for it. The locations are weak, except the criminally underused Cajun bar, and Virgil Miller’s cinematography is poor. His day for night shots–the film’s full of them–are awful.

As the princess, Virginia Christine is best when silent, though when she awakens is easily the film’s best sequence. Unfortunately, she gets dropped from the movie for more Mummy action.

It’s interesting, even compelling at times, but it fails. No one knows how to present the good ideas–not the director, not the writers.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Leslie Goodwins; screenplay by Bernard Schubert, based on a story and adaptation by Leon Abrams and Dwight V. Babcock; director of photography, Virgil Miller; edited by Fred R. Feitshans Jr.; music by William Lava and Paul Sawtell; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Lon Chaney Jr. (Kharis), Peter Coe (Dr. Ilzor Zandaab), Virginia Christine (Princess Ananka), Kay Harding (Betty Walsh), Dennis Moore (Dr. James Halsey), Martin Kosleck (Ragheb), Kurt Katch (Cajun Joe), Addison Richards (Pat Walsh), Holmes Herbert (Dr. Cooper), Charles Stevens (Achilles), William Farnum (Michael, the Sacristan) and Napoleon Simpson (Goobie).

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