THE MUMMY'S GHOST (Universal, 1944), directed by Reginald LeBorg, marks the return of Kharis, the living mummy, for the first time on screen since THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1942) where he met his doom in a blaze of fire in the Frankenstein monster tradition. He lives again (with no explanation on how he survived) in another venture set on American soil in a college town ten years after his last stalk.
In THE MUMMY'S TOMB, Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey) was assigned by the aged High Priest Andoheb (George Zucco) as the new guide for Kharis. After failing on his mission, THE MUMMY'S GHOST starts off its new chapter in Egypt where the High Priest assigns Bey's son, Yousef (John Carradine), a high priest of Arkhom, to undertake the new assignment by going to the New England town of Mapleton where Kharis still lives, and bring him, along with the mummy of Princess Ananka, whose remains are displayed at the Scripps Museum, back to their final resting places in Egypt. In the meantime, Matthew Norman (Frank Reicher), a college professor of Egyptology, lectures his class of the mummy that terrorized the town years ago. One of his students is Amina Mansori (Ramsay Ames) of Egyptian ancestry, engaged to Thomas Harvey (Robert Lowery), another student. As Professor Norman experiments with the tana leaves associated with Kharis, this restores him to come over and strangle the professor to death. Because Amina was nearby when the murder took place, and not knowing how she ended up on his grounds, she is automatically linked with Norman's murder. After Yousef Bey and Kharis break into the museum to retrieve the body of Princess Ananka, Kharis touches the preserved body only to have it crumble into a pile of tattered bandages. (At that very moment, Amina awakens from her sleep to the horror of feeling that someone has touched her). With Ananka now living in another form, it is revealed that Amina is the reincarnation of Ananka. (Take notice that the reincarnation of the princess is borrowed from the 1932 version of THE MUMMY starring Boris Karloff). After Amina is abducted and taken to a secluded building where Bey is to perform the sacred rites, Kharis carries her away as he is pursued by the villagers while the young girl slowly ages into a centuries old woman, to startling results.
While he stories tend to repeat themselves by this time, making it hard to determine which Mummy movie was which, THE MUMMY'S GHOST, another one of Universal's attempt in keeping their studio monsters alive with its endless series of cut-rate sequels, is in fact, a pleasant surprise as being by far the best in the entire series, thanks to its straightforward story and very creepy scenes. And if this is not the best, then an improvement over the others. Lon Chaney Jr. is offered little or no opportunity in adding more than he already has with his character, bandaged head to toe, dragging his one leg and walking slowly, having the strength to stretch out his one arm and kill. In addition to the series is police inspector Walgreen (Barton MacLane) investigating the murders with questions in the traditional detective movie mystery fashion. There's also a cute little dog named Peanuts adding some light touches to the story. Regardless, THE MUMMY'S GHOST (what ghost?) is a very effective production that should not disappoint horror movie fans.
Formerly shown in the 1990s on the Sci-Fi Channel during its "Mummy's Day" festival in October for Halloween, and American Movie Classics (2000-2002), this, and other Universal monsters, can be found on video cassette or on the current DVD format. Next installment: THE MUMMY'S CURSE (1945).(***)