Afraid of No Ghost
The poster for The Mummy’s Ghost promises, “All new terror!” an important distiction since the previous Mummy plunged 10-minutes of stock footage into the opening reel. In some sense, Mummy’s Ghost is an example of honesty in advertising – stock footage limits itself to shots of the moon or other similar instances. Lon Chaney Jr. once again entangles himself in tattered bandages to play this part in full.
The untruth then is the story, both ignoring and honoring Mummy’s Tomb. Like the usual instances of Universal continuity, it’s erratic. George Zucco – who died in Tomb – passes the role of High Priest to an imposing John Carridine and the process resets. Carridine resurrects Kharis; Kharis charges ahead aimlessly to kill people in a not-so-new premise. At least Kharis spares some dogs.
Inset with the future formula for slasher flicks, the town of Mapleton is besieged by the monster, primarily around a college campus. Robert Lowery takes the leading man gig, a 30-year old student, protective of his girlfriend, Ramsey Ames. Neither light up the screen, nor does anyone outside of Carridine. Briskly paced at a mere hour, no one has a chance to break free of their rudimentary roles. Ames gets the worst of it, spending most of her screen time sleeping or being carried by Chaney.
Mummy’s Ghost brings back the centuries of romance angle that opened the series. Kharis kills to resurrect his love Ananka, although “love” in this case means wandering through the town looking for her. Repetitive and dry are terms encapsulating this one, part of a series struggling to maintain momentum, if it has any at all.
A bit of World War II-era spirit slips in, notable were it not used within the “angry villagers” trope. A night watchmen states, “We’ve all got to do our part,” bringing the town together to battle the local menace. A better film would stage or frame Kharis in a way to insinuate resentment toward outsiders, but Mummy’s Ghost purely exists to fill seats, nothing more.
Even in the thin Universal Mummy canon, Mummy’s Ghost feels especially empty, at least until a rather daring climax. It’s a wonder why it’s titled Mummy’s Ghost and not Bride of the Mummy given the circumstances and lack of ghosts, but a copycat title might have alerted audiences to the copycat film within.
Mummy’s Ghost throws back to the original Mummy on Blu-ray. Both endure a bit of processing. Grain reduction leaves a lightly flattened image behind, slowing the appearance of fine detail. Minor banding, particularly during mid/long shots, gives Mummy’s Ghost a painted quality. That’s not ideal.
Mastering otherwise impresses, with strong resolution from a modern scan powering each shot. Definition on things like trees nicely show the quality of the disc’s source. Even Chaney’s make-up when in close performs admirably.
Were it not for the mild filtering, Mummy’s Ghost has significant positives to showcase. Preservation of gray scale builds natural depth. Shadows remain deep and rich, despite the film’s insistence on phony day-for-night routines.
In terms of damage, there’s nothing until the final reel. Around 54-minutes or so, black splotches show up, holding to the left side of the frame. A later shot succumbs to minor scratches, but the recovery is rapid. Closing moments maintain stability and clarity.
Universal’s DTS-HD track is predictably basic. All of the stock music that compromises the score nicely reaches a peak without distortion. Any bass holds firm, also without a loss of fidelity. Consistent dialog suffers no ill-effects due to age, rendered without hiss or popping.
Bundled on the same disc as The Mummy’s Curse, no extras are included beyond the original trailer.
Lon Chaney Jr stumbles around and kills people in the meandering sequel, The Mummy’s Ghost, a film with little ambition.
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