top of page
Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

The Mummy's Ghost (1944)

"No chains can hold it! No tomb can seal it!"


An Egyptian high priest, Youseff Bay, is sent to America to retrieve the body of Princess Ananka so that she may find peace in her proper resting place. Bay resurrects Kharis the mummy to assist him in the task. When they arrive in America, they find that Ananka's soul now inhabits the body of a young college student. With her fiancé desperate to protect her from Bay's advances, the inevitable showdown with the mummy is just around the corner.


Be forgiven if you think that you've clicked on the wrong link. This is The Mummy's Ghost and not one of the other three virtually identical mummy films released by Universal in the 40s. You could easily mistake one entry for another because it's all practically the same film over and over again: The Egyptian cult wants their stolen Princess back, they send one of their priests along with Kharis to get revenge on those responsible, the priest falls in love with someone, and Kharis ends up turning on the priest before meeting his demise. Is there any wonder that the mummy films were soon consigned to the scrap heap of history before Hammer came along in the 50s and 60s to try their luck (with similar repetitive consequences)?

The Mummy's Ghost doesn't pick up where The Mummy's Tomb left off as Kharis was burnt to a crisp. Not that this matters much as continuity in Universal’s monster films was never a concern. All you really need to know is that there is a mummy and it’s doing, well, mummy stuff. I’m not sure whether this would have been scary back in 1944 – I don’t think audiences would have been that gullible, even back then. But I do know that it would have been boring. Despite the promise of mummy action, Universal usually skimped and saved on excitement. The long stretches of tedious exposition drag, and the underwhelming set pieces fail to deliver any real sense of tension or fear. It's films like this that you wonder how the monster ever became so iconic.

The real star of the show is the titular character. Just like with the Wolf Man, Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, audiences just wanted to see these screen icons. With all fresh bandages and a clean, albeit it shoddily cheap, look, Kharis looks different to before. In fact, this mummy looks to be wearing jeans and t-shirt with some toilet roll wrapped around the top part; it’s a tragic sight, possibly the worst cinematic mummy. Worse yet, the mummy still acts the same as he did from the other films - you'd have thought he'd have learnt his lesson by now not to do certain things like mess around with people with flaming torches. He still walks excruciatingly slowly. He still strangles people to death in very weakly-staged attack scenes where the victims stand waiting for him to slowly lumber over to them and kill them.

***Spoiler alert***

The only difference this time around is that Kharis wins! Well sort of. He finally gets the girl in the finale which is what he always wanted instead of being torched to death or thrown into swamps on his lonesome. The ending is rather bleak and a change to the norm which instantly gives this entry slightly higher marks than the others. More in line with the continual demises of Frankenstein's monster, the mummy is met with hostility and violence from the local townspeople.

***End spoilers***

Horror legends John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr. both star: Carradine makes an extremely sinister high priest but does little more than stand around and boss the mummy about whilst Chaney slumps his way around the set as Kharis once again. George Zucco returns as well despite having died in the last film. There's little to comment on overall though because no one really gets much to do. The film is more or less over before you know it but at least the hour-long film is full of newly shot material. Some of the previous sequels were more than a little guilty of recycling footage from earlier films to pad out the running time. Universal may not have pumped much money into the film judging by the state of some of the sets but at least they made an effort by not padding out the film with filler from the earlier sequels. Despite the new footage, you'll find yourself drifting. The pace is almost as lethargic as Kharis and there's no sense of urgency during proceedings. For an hour long film, this one seems to go on for twice that length.


Final Verdict

The Mummy's Ghost is really hard to recommend when it's practically a carbon clone of the previous films. Like the other films it's pretty lacklustre and doesn't really do much in its short running time. But it's an innocent relic of a bygone era, a reminder of the power of cheap thrills and tired tropes to captivate old audiences.


The Mummy's Ghost

Director(s): Reginald Le Borg

Writer(s): Griffin Jay (story), Henry Sucher (story), Brenda Weisberg (screenplay)

Actor(s): Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Robert Lowery, Ramsey Ames, Barton Maclane, George Zucco, Frank Reicher, Harry Shannon

Duration: 61 mins


bottom of page