Cast & Crew
Lon Chaney [jr.]
A group of Cajuns are worried about the government clearing of a local swamp, as they believe the marsh lands are haunted by the mummy Kharis, who carried the reincarnation of his ancient love, Princess Ananka, into its depths twenty-five years earlier. Pat Walsh, the superintendent in charge of the swamp clearing, is met by two representatives of the Scripps Museum, archaeologists Dr. James Halsey and Dr. Ilzor Zandaab, who ask for his help in excavating the remains of Kharis and Ananka. Soon thereafter, the murdered body of one of Pat's workmen is discovered in the swamps, and Halsey finds what seems to be Kharis' empty grave nearby. Unknown to Halsey, Zandaab, a high priest in the ancient religion of Amon-Ra, has unearthed Kharis with the help of Ragheb, a local workman, and now plans to re-animate the mummy with tanna leaves so that Kharis can recover Ananka's body and they both can be returned to their ancient tombs in Egypt. After Kharis is re-animated by Zandaab inside an abandoned monastery, the mummy kills Michael, the self-appointed caretaker of the chapel. Later, in the midst of the swamp's excavation, an old and withered Ananka emerges from the marshes, but is transformed into a beautiful, youthful woman upon the touch of the sun's rays. She is then discovered by Cajun Joe, a foreman, and he takes the amnesiac woman to Tante Berthe's café. Ragheb, however, hears Ananka calling Kharis' name and rushes to inform Zandaab. Kharis is then sent to the café to reclaim his love, but Ananka does not recognize him and runs away. She faints near the roadway, where she is found by Halsey and Betty Walsh, Pat's secretary and niece. Meanwhile, Tante is discovered strangled to death, with ancient mold around her neck. Later, Ananka becomes Halsey's assistant, and the archaeologist is amazed by her unexplained expertise in ancient Egypt. Upon seeing Zandaab, however, Ananka goes into a trance and begins calling for Kharis, but the trance is quickly broken when she is shaken by Halsey. That night, Kharis once again tries to reclaim Ananka, but when she makes her escape, the mummy kills Dr. Cooper, the local physician. Seeing Ananka as the common link in the string of murders, Halsey and the workmen search the swamps for the missing woman. During the search, Cajun Joe is strangled by Kharis. Afterward, Ananka returns to the worker's camp, where she seeks refuge in Betty's tent. This time, Kharis manages to capture his love and goes back to the deserted monastery, where Zandaab feeds Ananka the sacred tanna leaves. Betty and the lustful Ragheb then arrive, but when Zandaab insists on killing the innocent Betty to preserve the secret of Kharis and Ananka, Ragheb stabs the high priest to death. Halsey then arrives at the monastery, where he and Ragheb fight over Betty. As Ragheb is about to kill Halsey, Kharis enters and, enraged by the death of Zandaab, tears down a wing of the monastery in an attempt to get at the murderous Ragheb. Both Kharis and Ragheb are buried in the rubble, and Ananka's mummified body is later found by Halsey and Pat. Halsey then makes plans to unearth Kharis and return both mummies to the Scripps Museum, and publicly announces his romantic intentions toward Betty.
Lon Chaney [jr.]
Dwight V. Babcock
Bernard B. Brown
Fred R. Feitshans Jr.
John P. Fulton
Victor A. Gangelin
Russell A. Gausman
John B. Goodman
Edwin L. Wetzel
The Mummy's Curse
This gets a little confusing: Karloff's character in the original Mummy film was called Imhotep. When Universal rebooted the story with The Mummy's Hand, the character (played by Tyler, a former Western star of silent and early talkies) was called Kharis, with little or no connection to the original film. Chaney Jr. took the role in the next three sequels, and The Mummy's Curse was the last of the series produced by the studio, although he did make an appearance under the name "Klaris" in the spoof Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955). Other Mummy characters, of course, have been woven into numerous movies since then.
Muddling matters even further, the plot of The Mummy's Tomb takes place years after its predecessor The Mummy's Hand, leading some observers to note that The Mummy's Curse must take place somewhere between the late 1960s and the late 1990s. Are we all following this now?
But wait, there's more! Because earlier footage was incorporated into this picture, that means the Mummy is played here by three different actors (Chaney Jr., Tyler, and Karloff) - not counting stunt doubles, one of whom, Eddie Parker, played the menacing immortal in the Abbott and Costello comedy.
The plot of The Mummy's Curse centers on a romantic dilemma when Kharis's ancient love, Princess Ananka (Virginia Christine), is restored to youthful, much alive beauty and no longer cares for him. Christine (famous late in the 20th century as Mrs. Olsen from the Folger's coffee commercials) likely didn't find Chaney Jr. too attractive. She later said that he was drunk through most of the filming. To make it easier for him to carry her in one scene, she was placed in a harness that went around his neck. Because they were attached, she was afraid that in his drunken state, weaving and wobbling on uneven steps, he would fall with her in his arms and injure them both. The director, Leslie Goodwins, eventually halted shooting and had Chaney Jr. replaced with a stunt double.
The Mummy make-up was created by Universal's resident monster expert Jack P. Pierce, who had been key, to one degree or another, in the looks of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man and other horror characters launched by the studio. In the pre-Chaney Jr. films, the actors' facial features were still somewhat discernible under the make-up. For Chaney Jr., however, Pierce created a face-obscuring mask. In fact, although he is seen as both the human and monster versions of Larry Talbot in The Wolfman (1941) and its sequels, here he is only the heavily disguised Mummy, while flashbacks to the character in ancient times (prior to embalming) use footage of Tyler from the earlier pictures.
Pierce's Kharis mask is reportedly the only remaining physical remnant of his work, preserved by Bob Burns, an archivist and historian of props, costumes, and other screen paraphernalia from science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies.
While Pierce was Universal's go-to artist for monster make-up, his work extended to just about every other genre. He created Irene Dunne's looks in the melodramas Back Street (1932) and Magnificent Obsession (1935) and the musical Show Boat (1936); teen musical star Deanna Durbin's in Three Smart Girls (1936); Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and company in Dressed to Kill (1946); Ginger Rogers as Dolly Madison in the period drama Magnificent Doll (1946); and Ingrid Bergman's Maid of Orleans in Joan of Arc (1948). His last credited work was on the 1960s TV talking horse comedy Mister Ed.
The creepy, almost animatronic look of the scene where Ananka rises from the swamp was achieved by undercranking the film to give it a choppy, sped-up look. The trick is evident in the overly fast jerkiness of the leaves and shadows.
Filmed from June to August 1944 under the title The Mummy's Return, the picture is credited as being shot primarily in studio with some sources claiming a few scenes were shot in the swamps of Louisiana, a questionable assertion.
Director: Leslie Goodwins
Producers: Ben Pivar, Oliver Drake
Screenplay: Bernard Schubert
Cinematography: Virgil Miller
Editing: Fred R. Feitshans Jr.
Art Direction: John B. Goodman, Martin Obzina
Music: William Lava, Paul Sawtell Cast: Lon Chaney Jr. (Mummy/Kharis), Peter Coe (Dr. Ilizor Zandaab), Virginia Christine (Princess Ananka), Kay Harding (Betty Walsh), Dennis Moore (Dr. James Halsey)
by Rob Nixon
The Mummy's Curse
The working title of this film was The Mummy's Return. According to a December 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item, Ted Richmond was orginally set to produce the film. The film contains footage from two earlier Universal films, The Mummy and The Mummy's Hand (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2980 and F3.2982). Although it picks up where the plot of Universal's previous "Kharis" film, The Mummy's Ghost ends, with "Kharis" and "Ananka" disappearing into the swamps, The Mummy's Curse is supposed to take place twenty-five years later, in the late 1960s. This was the fourth and final Universal film featuring Kharis, the Mummy. For additional information on this series, consult the Series Index and the entry for The Mummy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2980). Modern sources add the following names to the crew credits: Contract Writer Ted Richmond; Camera Operator William Dodds; Properties Ernie Smith and Eddie Case; Makeup Jack P. Pierce; Gowns Vera West; Lon Chaney's doubles Eddie Parker and Bob Pepper; and Stunts Carey Loftin and Teddy Mangean.