Today’s movie is The Mummy’s Curse (1944). This is the third time that Long Chaney Jr. played the mummy. I wanted to pan this movie like the rest of this mummy series, but I found this one to be vastly superior to the other three. With limited star power, the acting was still very solid. I thought that moving mummy from a swamp in Massachusetts to Louisiana would be ridiculous but the folklore was woven into the story very well.
With that said, any of you that have been listening for a while know that English is not my native language. Since I was raised in raise in a third world country known as Mississippi, I am going to apologize in advance for the Cajun, French Canadian, and French words that this review requires me to pronounce. Sorry about that.
Lon Chaney Jr. returned for the third time as the Mummy. Chaney was covered in Episode 5 – Of Mice and Men (1939).
Virginia Christine played Princess Ananka and she looked great. I will never look at Mrs. Olson, the coffee lady the same way again. Christine was first covered in Episode 12 – Billy the Kidd Versus Dracula (1966).
Of course, appearing in uncredited clips were James Crane as the Pharaoh, Boris Karloff as Kharis or the mummy, and Tom Tyler as Kharis or the mummy from The Mummy (1932), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), and The Mummy’s Ghost (1944).
Other than above, there is not a lot of star power in this movie. I will give a few brief mentions.
Peter Coe did a great job as Dr. Ilzor Zandaab from the Scripps Museum and secret Priest of Arkham. Coe was born in Yugoslavia on Armistice Day, the same day the country was created. He was trained in acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England.
This dark-skinned actor played many ethnic roles in movies and television, including American Indians. Of his 84 credits, he is best known for House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), and Road to Bali (1952).
Coe was a good friend and drinking buddy of director Edward D. Wood Jr. It was planned that Coe would star in a Wood film about the later life of Bela Lugosi. However, this film was never made, as evicted director Wood died while living in the home of Coe. Coe died in 1993.
Kay Harding played Betty Walsh, niece to the swamp contractor and eye candy. Harding was born in Oklahoma in 1924. She was in a total of seven movies with the most noted being The Scarlet Claw (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), Weird Woman (1944), and The Woman in Green (1945). Harding died in 1984 at the early age of 60.
Dennis Moore played the Scripps Museum archaeologist Dr. James Halsey. Moore was born in Texas in 1908. He became interested in movies while working as an usher. He did local and regional theater. Moore began films in 1932. He did quite well in westerns, serials, and B-movies. Moore’s most successful period was during World War II when most of the better actors were away at the war.
Moore is best known for The Dawn Rider (1935), Black Legion (1937), East Side Kids (1940), Raiders of Ghost City (1944), Voodoo Man (1944), The Purple Monster Strikes (1945), The Gay Ranchero (1948), I Died a Thousand Times (1955), and The Harder They Fall (1956).
Moore retired in 1961 to run a gift shop in Big Bear Lake, California. He died there in 1964.
Martin Kosleck played the role of Ragheb, swamp worker and trainee priest of Arkham. Kosleck was born in 1904 in a part of German that is now part of Poland. Kosleck left German just ahead of Gestapo and a death sentence.
He is known for Foreign Correspondent (1940), Pursuit to Algiers (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), and The Flesh Eaters (1964). However, his real career was playing the Nazis he hated. However, he never resented this typecast, like many other German refugees. According to iMDB.com, one critic referred to him as “the definitive Nazi swine.”
He eventually became a famous painter before he died in 1994.
Kurt Katch played the role of Cajun Joe. Katch was born in the Russian Empire in 1896 in what is now Belarus. He studied acting under Max Reinhardt in Vienna. When those damn Nazis started messing everything up, Katch, being Jewish, left for America. Katch worked in Yiddish theater and eventually became a character actor in the 1940s and 1950s. In spite of bald head, he became quite successful, especially in horror roles. His best-known movies are Watch on the Rhine (1943), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955). Katch died in 1958.
Napoleon Simpson played the role of Goobie. Simpson was an African-American actor that was active for 1939-1963 having a total of 28 movie and television credits. He generally has minor support or extra roles. Simpson was born in Illinois in 1902. He is known for Midnight Shadow (1939), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), and Jungle Queen (1945). Simpson died in 1967.
The movie begins at the tavern of Tante Berthe (Ann Codee) providing entertainment to swamp workers badly in need of diversions. Cajun Joe (Kurt Katch) flirts with Tante in front of her husband but it is all in good fun. Cajun Joe says when he gets paid for the swamp clearing he is doing he will buy a boat and fish Barataria Bay, the historic local of the pirate Jean Laffite. Achilles (Charles Stevens) says the work is over because there are a mummy and a princess that walks when the moon is high. Then Achilles says “the Lougarou’s they don’t want no more digging in the swamp.” A Lougarou is a Creole word for a creature that sheds his skin and flies at night in the swamp as a fireball or as a bird with the goal of killing children. Now I have heard my mother speak often of fireballs rolling up hills at night and I just figured it was the effect of white lighting. Drinking white lighting.
Now all of my life I have believed that a Lougarou and a Le Loup Garou were the same things, a Canadian werewolf. Since the Cajuns originated in in French Canada, this mix-up made perfect sense to me. While we are on the subject, to trap a Canadian werewolf, you have to nail a colander to the outside wall of your cabin. The werewolf will begin counting the holes and can be captured while he is distracted.
A Lougarou and a Le Loup Garou should never be confused with the Honey Island Swamp monster whose Cajun name is something like Para tu Fe or covered with moss. The Honey Island Swamp monster is a sasquatch or possibly as one version asserts – The decedents of circus chimps from a train wreck that interbreed with alligators.
Many of the men are scared but Cajun Joe says it has been 25-years since the mummy took his girl into the swamp. Pat Walsh (Addison Richards) the supervisor of the swamp draining project does not want to hear any excuses about a monster. He wants the work done. Ragheb (Martin Kosleck) goads Achilles into asking what has become of Antwon who has been missing since night.
Walsh forces the men back to work just as Dr. James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and his colleague Dr. Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe) from the Scripps Museum show-up. The two archaeologists have authority to recover the mummies of Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Ananka (Virginia Christine). Walsh doesn’t want the men around but they are welcomed by his lovely assistant and niece Betty Walsh (Kay Harding). Halsey says the mummy carried the girl into the swamp at this location, so that has changed from the previous movie.
Goobie (Napoleon Simpson) comes in and reports that Antwon has been murdered and the workers are about to walk off. Walsh sends Goobie to Tante’ to find Cajun Joe. They also call Doctor Cooper (Holmes Herbert).
Goobie finds Cajun Joe in the bar and says “Find a lizard on your grave, ain’t no charm your life can save.” Then he tells that Antwon has been stabbed in the back. Doctor Cooper says he has been dead about 24-hours. Goobie yells “the Devil is on the loose.” Halsey finds an impression in the ground that looks like the body of a man. Halsey says it is a hole for a mummy’s body that was opened by the bulldozer. Goobie yells “the Devil is on the loose and he’s dancing with the mummy.” They find a piece of mummy wrapping in the hole.
Later that night, Dr. Zandaab rows a boat out into the swamp and meets Ragheb, who calls him master. Damn, the guy wearing a fez in a mummy movie is the bad guy. Ragheb takes him to an abandoned monastery on a hill in the swamp. Both of those things are pretty rare in swamps. Ragheb says he killed the men that helped him bring the sarcophagus to the monastery.
They two go in the monastery and Kharis is in his box. Dr. Zandaab robes up and puts on the sacred medallion. Ragheb opens the sarcophagus to reveal Kharis. Dr. Zandaab brews three Tana leaves and explains the job to Ragheb. They then use the smoking caldron to show the older clips featuring Pharaoh (James Crane), mummy (Boris Karloff), and Kharis and the mummy (Tom Tyler).
Dr. Zandaab gives the liquid to Kharis. The mummy acts like he has had a nine leaf dose. Just as the mummy gets up, Michael, the caretaker of the monastery comes in and demands they leave. He also says he has found the murdered men. The mummy grabs him and chocks him out.
Near the end of the workday, a bulldozer scrapes the swamp. Shortly after, a shrouded hand rises. Slowly, the mud cover Ananka rises and struggles for freedom. It is a very well done and it is even a creepy scene. The Sun gives her power. She staggers blindly through the swamp until finally, she walks into the water, almost if being baptized. What is most amazing about this is that she comes out with a pretty clean dress and her hair restyled. Good water.
Cajun Joe is walking through this swamp and sees the lovely Ananka walking around. She cannot talk, so he covers her and takes her to Tante’s place. Ragheb sees them together but hides. The only thing Ananka says is Kharis. Cajun Joe takes her in the side door to Tante’s bedroom. Tante sends Cajun Joe to get the doctor.
Ragheb reports about Ananka, and after nine Tanna leaves, the mummy heads out after his princess. The mummy breaks into the bedroom and Ananka runs away. The mummy kills Tante. Ananka runs into the swamp followed by the mummy. She passes out by the road, but Betty and Halsey drive by and pick her up. They get away just inches ahead of the mummy.
Back at Tante’s, they find the mold marks on her neck. Back at camp, Dr. Cooper is taking care of Ananka. When she wakes, she speaks perfect English. Good water. They start Ananka working in the archaeology lab and she is really good at it. She identifies the mummy wrappings as to thread count and dynasty.
Dr. Zandaab shows up and Ananka is drawn to him in a trance-like state. She starts hollering for Kharis again. A good shake by Halsey snaps her out of it.
That night, Dr. Zandaab sends the mummy out to get Ananka. When the mummy gets close, Ananka puts on her silk robe and leaves the tent she and Betty share. She runs from the mummy into the tent of Dr. Cooper. She tells the doc that Kharis is coming for her. He thinks she is nuts. The mummy comes in the tent and the doctor tries to hit him with a rattan chair. The mummy finishes him off while Ananka escapes.
Walsh tries to blame everything on Halsey. Halsey has figured out that the mummy shows up everywhere Ananka goes. The men decide to go on a night hunt and after not finding anything, they decide to split-up.
Cajun Joe heads out in a rowboat and finds Ananka wandering through the swamp. The mummy shows up, and after taking two barrel blasts from a shotgun, kills Cajun Joe. Ananka makes it back to the tent where she and Betty had been staying. Ragheb comes to camp and it is not long until the mummy makes it there as well. The mummy grabs Ananka and heads out.
Pretending to help Ragheb takes Betty into the swamp. Goobie and Halsey find Betty’s torn down tent. After finding mummy wrapping, Halsey starts trailing the mummy. Goobie wakes Walsh saying “The Devils on the loose and he’s dancing with the mummy.”
The mummy takes Ananka to the monastery where Dr. Zandaab is waiting with the tea. Dr. Zandaab sticks to the plan this time and gives Ananka the Tanna juice. Ragheb takes Betty up to the monastery as well and is just about to assault her but Dr. Zandaab stops him. Dr. Zandaab wants Betty to die and Ragheb kills him by stabbing him in the back.
Halsey shows up and Ragheb tries to stab him, but Halsey was trained at the Indiana Jones Commando School for Archaeologist. Ragheb is not out and gets up and attacks again. The mummy slowly comes to join the fight. He stops Ragheb from killing Halsey and Ragheb locks himself in a cell. The mummy has no problem breaking in and kills Ragheb. The roof of the monastery comes down killing Regheb and the mummy.
Thank goodness that mummy is dead.
Goobie finds Ananka in her sarcophagus and she is old and dead. Halsey says he is going to marry Betty and teams from the museum will come and dig up Kharis.
World-Famous Short Summary – Beautiful women cause conflict at a work camp
I have to says that there are some fine row boating skills in this movie.
I hope you enjoyed today’s show. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at classicmovierev.com. There are links in the podcast show notes as well. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to Apple Podcast AKA iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.
Beware the moors