Category Archives: Might See

The Haunted House of Horror | Fancy a seance and an orgy with Frankie Avalon? Well you’ve got the wrong address!

At a ‘swinging’ London party, a group of bored teenagers decide they want a new ‘experience’, so Richard (Julian Barnes) suggests they head to a deserted mansion where an infamous murder took place. But during their ‘ghost hunt’, one of their number ends up brutally stabbed to death. Hiding the body, the gang decide not to tell the police, which turns out to be a really bad move. As guilt gets the better of them, they decide the only solution is to return to the scene of the crime…

Oh dear! This dated 1960s Tigon/AIP horror is embarrassingly bad, yet bizarrely enjoyable for its kitsch value. Beach Party‘s Frankie Avalon swaps his shorts and surfboard for some Carnaby Street clobber as the jaded group’s nominal leader. But he looks way older than his character should be, and practically dials in his performance. But he’s certainly not as stiff as Dennis Price (a last minute replacement for an ailing Boris Karloff), whose police inspector does little more than take phone calls. Among the dolly birds and male model supporting cast are future sitcom stars Richard O’Sullivan and Robin Stewart, pop singer Mark Wynter, and actress Jill Haworth (who ended up in Tower of Evil and The Mutations).

For fans of vintage British horror, you either love or hate this deeply-flawed attempt by Tigon to craft what is probably the UK’s first teen slasher, and its production history is certainly way more interesting than the film itself. Originally called The Dark, it was based on an original screenplay by 23-year-old Michael Armstrong, who also got to direct until he was removed by Tigon’s AIP co-producers, who demanded cuts, script changes and reshoots, to the point that the finished product looked nothing like what Armstrong had originally intended (he want to make a satire on the youth scene). Hence why George Sewell’s scenes look like they come from another movie. They were added to make up the running time after big cuts were made, which got rid of a homosexual subplot and other more interesting elements.

The restoration, however, is impressive as it really highlights the effective camerawork and lighting, particularly so in the mansion scenes (shot on location at the Birkdale Palace Hotel in Southport, but using sets constructed to look battered and aged). There’s so much more detail now and the colours really pop (especially in the cast’s trendy attire). Check out the clip below about the restoration work (But BIG spoiler alert! The killer is revealed).

While the film ended up generating good returns (especially when it was released in the US as Horror House on a double-bill with Crimson Cult – aka Curse of the Crimson Cult) it’s a real pity its a dog’s dinner of a thriller. But one can only imagine how it could have turned out had Armstrong had achieved his original concept with his dream cast of David Bowie, Scott Walker, Ian Ogilvy and Jane Merrow. If you want to read Armstrong’s original screenplay for The Dark, you purchase it from Paper Dragon Productions for £13.99. Just click on the link.

The Haunted House of Horror is available on Blu-ray in the UK from Screenbound

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Commentary and a new interview with director Michael Armstrong
• Interview clips with Michael Armstrong, actors Mark Wynter, Carol Dilworth and Veronica Doran; plus hair stylist Ross Carver, camera operator James Devis, production secretary Jeanette Ferber, dubbing editor Howard Lanning and editor Peter Pitt.

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Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich | World War III begins on your toy shelf!

The murderous marionettes are back as Fangoria presents their ultraviolent reboot of Charles Band’s Puppet Master horror franchise, The Littlest Reich, from directors Tommy Wiklund and Sonny Laguna.

When divorced comic book writer/store clerk Edgar (Reno 911!’s Thomas Lennon) finds one of the infamous Toulon Blade puppets in mint condition at his family home, he decides to sell it for some quick cash. New girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) and nerdy pal Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) join Edgar as he heads to Oregon for an auction being held in the mansion where the infamous Toulon Murders took place 30 years previously.

But when the puppets are reanimated and start targeting ‘undesirables’, the trio team up with a security officer (Barbara Crampton) and a clueless cop (Michael Pare) to draw the puppets from out of the shadows to take them down…

The political satire may be as subtle as one of Donald Trump’s speeches, and the acting questionable, but the cartoon gore is a whole lotta fun and wonderfully offensive. A gypsy guy has his head chopped off while taking a leak, and ends up pissing on his own head; a Jewish couple get barbecued alive; and a black woman has her unborn foetus ripped from her stomach. But the OTT carnage really gets going when the toy shelf Nazis launch their all-out attack on the mansion…

Joining old favourites, Blade, Tunneler, Torch (aka Kaiser) and Pinhead, in this 13th-entry are seven new deadly dolls, including Junior Fuhrer, a diaper-wearing baby doll with the face of Adolf Hitler, who takes possession of a blonde German muscle dude by ripping open his back and crawling inside so he can operate him like a real-life puppet. But the Nazi nipper does get his comeuppance when Markowitz throws him into an oven.

With a neat (though short) cameo from Udo Keir (as Andre Toulon), a terrific score from the legendary Fabio Frizzi and an ending that hints at the franchise’s return, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a bloody, silly, fun ride indeed.

Out in selected UK cinemas from 19 April 2019

 

The Green Inferno: Cannibal Holocaust 2 and Cannibal Terror on Blu-ray

THE GREEN INFERNO: CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 2 (1988)
For years fans waited for the release of a sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s trendsetting Cannibal Holocaust, yet it would take almost a decade for The Green Inferno, also known as Cannibal Holocaust 2, to arrive… and it wasn’t what followers of the Italian cannibal cycle were expecting.
A group of enterprising adventurers venture into the Amazon jungle in search of a missing professor but soon the youngsters encounter more than they bargained for – European colonialism is exploiting the rainforest and the natives are fighting back! While Deodato’s original critiqued the mondo pseudo-documentary phenomenon, here director Antonio Climati (Mondo Cane, Savage Man, Savage Beast) turns the focus to satirising the hypocrisy and complexity of Cannibal Holocaust itself. A potent mix of macabre imagery, scenic locations, extreme gore and sly in-jokes, The Green Inferno is the gut-munching sequel you always knew you wanted but were too afraid to ask for!

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Brand new 2K remaster from the original camera negative in 1.66:1 OAR
• Extensive clean-up and colour correction carried out in the UK
• Remastered uncompressed English audio
• Remastered uncompressed Italian audio with newly translated subtitles
• ‘Scenes From Banned Alive: The Rise and Fall of Italian Cannibal Movies’. Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino discuss their notorious cannibal films, including The Man From Deep River, Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Holocaust and The Mountain of the Cannibal God
• Italian opening and closing credits
• Remastered trailer

CANNIBAL TERROR (1981)
First there was Cannibal Holocaust… Then came Cannibal Ferox … But somewhere in France, someone was already hatching a plot to cash-in on the Italian intestinal classics with Cannibal Terror. With no budget, no professional actors and no flights to Amazonia, Cannibal Terror instead gives us Deodato and Lenzi on a cash-strapped level and the end result is The Room of cannibal movies! Brilliant and blood-soaked late night entertainment, Cannibal Terror was one of the UK’s infamous ‘video nasties’ – showing that our beloved censors have little in the way of a sense of humour! However, this torrid tale of stranded tourists being hunted by hungry natives is a work of demented genius from director Alain Deruelle that words can barely do service to. Prepare to feast your eyes on Cannibal Terror!

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Limited edition o-card slipcase [first print run only]
• Limited edition collectors’ booklet by Calum Waddell [first print run only]
• High definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Uncompressed English audio
• Optional English subtitles
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• ‘That’s Not The Amazon! – The Strange Story of the Eurocine Cannibal Film Cycle’
• Deleted scene
• Theatrical trailer

88 Films presents The Green Inferno: Cannibal Holocaust 2 and Cannibal Terror on Blu-ray 11 March 2019

The Sentinel (1977) | Michael Winner’s satanic shocker is perversely entertaining

The Sentinel (1977)

Troubled fashion model Alison Parker (Nashville‘s Cristina Raines), with a history of suicidal tendencies, rents an apartment in an old Brooklyn brownstone, where a mute blind priest, Father Halliran (John Carradine), sits all day and night beside an upstairs window.

After meeting the other tenants, including the overly-friendly Charles Chazen (Burgess Meredith) and Bohemian lesbian couple, Gerde (Sylvia Miles) and Sandra (Beverly D’Angelo), Alison begins having bouts of insomnia caused by strange late-night sounds coming from the apartment above hers and terrible dreams about murdering her recently deceased father.

But when she complains to her real-estate agent, Miss Logan (Ava Gardner) about the noises, Alison learns that there are no neighbours in the property except herself and the priest. Oh dear!

Worried that she might be loosing her mind, Alison turns to her lawyer boyfriend Michael (Chris Sarandon) for help, and then sets out to investigate on her own. Digging through the building’s past, she is shocked to learn that it guards the gates to Hell and that she has been chosen by a secret group of Catholic priests to be the next sentinel…

Riding the satanic horror wave of the Seventies, The Sentinel is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Jeffrey Konvitz, who adapted it for the screen and acted as producer alongside director Michael Winner.

Damned by critics on its release as being ‘grubby and grotesque’, Winner’s only attempt at the horror genre is certainly not up to par with the likes of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen, but its perversely entertaining with some unsettling set pieces, cheesy dialogue and noteworthy performances from its A-list cast. Plus, the special effects and Gille Mellé score are a winning combo, along with the 1970s stylings and New York City locations.

Burgess Meredith, who scored a Oscar nod for his stand-out turn in Rocky the previous year, really goes to town as one of the damned inhabitants, as does Eli Wallach as a shouty detective, whose sidekick is a young Christopher Walken. And among the other familiar faces are José Ferrer, Martin Balsam, Arthur Kennedy, Deborah Raffin and Jeff Goldblum.

The shocks are few, but genuinely frightening: especially Alison fighting off her naked rotting dead dad, the lesbian couple having a cannibalistic late night supper, and the hellish finale in which Winner ‘exploitatively’ uses real people with physical deformities to play the demonic creatures trying to prevent Alison from fulfilling her destiny. But for me, the really gross-out scene is when Beverly D’Angelo pleasures herself in front of an embarrassed Alison.

The Final Cut Entertainment Region 2 DVD (released on 23 November 2018) features an OK print of the film, but no extras.

DID YOU KNOW?
Alison’s Brooklyn brownstone was never knocked down as seen in the closing scenes of the film. It is in fact one of the grandest mansions in Brooklyn Heights, and is located at 10 Montague Terrace.

Nestled in a quiet corner right off the Promenade that runs between Brooklyn Bridge and Atlantic Avenue, the historic 1900 building is distinctive for its dramatic facade, magnificently detailed mahogany woodwork and other original details throughout.

Today, it has been renovated into a number of luxury apartments. One went for around $1.15m in April this year, while another was on offer for $1.8m.

Night of the Creeps (1986) | The cult sci-fi zom-com gets a dual format release

Night of the Creeps

From Eureka Entertainment comes director Fred Dekker’s jokey 1980s sci-fi comedy Night of the Creeps, in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range.

When an alien experiment goes awry, it crashes to Earth in 1959 and infects a college student. 27 years later, his freeze-dried body is unwittingly revived by nerds Chris (Jason Lively) and JC (Steve Marshall), which releases alien slugs that turn their fellow campus students into brain-hungry zombies. Chris, CJ and Chris’ new girlfriend Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) must then team up with a troubled detective (Tom Atkins) to find a way to defeat the zombie horde…

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Presented for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK, this deluxe edition of Night of the Creeps features the original director’s cut and the following special features…

DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL FEATURES
• High-definition remaster of the director’s cut
• Original stereo soundtrack and 5.1 surround audio options, presented in PCM and DTS-HD MA respectively on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary by writer/director Fred Dekker
• Audio commentary by actors Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow
Thrill Me: Making Night of the Creeps: an hour-long series of video pieces on the making of the film featuring new interviews with cast and crew
Tom Atkins: Man of Action featurette
• Video Interview with Fred Dekker
• Deleted Scenes
• Original theatrical ending (which I rather prefer)
• Trivia track subtitles
• Theatrical trailer
• Limited-edition booklet featuring a new essay by critic Craig Ian Mann
• Limited Edition O-Card slipcase

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The Monster (2016) | This slow-burning creature feature is a tense, but flawed affair

MONSTER (2016)

Neglectful alcoholic mum Kathy (Zoe Kazan) is driving her 10-year-old daughter Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) to her ex-husband’s home when she hits a wolf, which damages her car. An ambulance crew soon arrives, along with tow car mechanic, Jesse (Aaron Douglas), who starts fixing the car when he’s attacked by a monstrous creature. When a severed arm lands on the bonnet and a severly wounded Jesse is dragged under the car, Kathy and Lizzy must work together in order to survive the night…

MONSTER (2016)

This claustrophobic two-hander horror from director Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) runs 91mins, but you have to wait for nearly 40mins before anything happens by way of action – even then it quietens down again before the final showdown. It certainly is a slow-burner, but most of the film’s running time is taken up with the kind of mother-daughter domestics that you’d expect from a weepie melodrama. It’s a bit of a drag, despite the effective man-in-a-furry-suit creature design and the engaging performances from both Ballentine and Kazan (who replaced original choice, Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss).

MONSTER (2016)

Still, the slow bits (and flashbacks) gave me time to wonder what this monster was, where it had come from and why attack now? At first I thought it might be a werewolf or even Bigfoot, then I wondered if it weren’t a manifestation of Lizzy’s internal anger, similar to the superb 2014 Oz shocker The Babadook, which also dealt with angst-ridden parent-child issues. Bertino doesn’t offer up any answers, which makes me think he may have missed a trick (or did I read this film all wrong?). Oh, and the pay-off (involving a large stick) is just a tad too silly after all that build-up. Lots of reviewers have given this four or five stars – I’m giving it ★★★

The Monster lurks onto DVD and Digital from Icon Film Distribution on 8 October

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Outpost III: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013) | The Nazi horror is back for another gory testosterone-fuelled adventure

Outpost3_DVD_cover

‘CRY HAVOC, LET LOOSE THE DOGS!’
On the Eastern Front during the dying days of World War Two, Sergeant Dolokhov (Bryan Larkin) and his Russian Red Guard raid a Nazi convoy, but are captured and detained in an underground facility, where they discover the Nazis are attempting to create an army of invincible undead soldiers.

Fearing the success of the Lazarus project could turn the tide of the war effort, Dolokhov and fellow soldier Fyodor (Iván Kamarás) try to find a way to escape. But first they must survive becoming the next subjects in the terrifying experiment.

Outpost III (2013)

‘DYING ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE’
If you like your horror dripping in blood and testosterone, then you’ve certainly come to the right place. I’ve never seen the first two instalments of this Nazi franchise, but the lure of beefy blokes engaging in some brutal bare-knuckle combat with some seriously pumped up zombies, I couldn’t resist.

Outpost III (2013)

On the plus side, the production values are pretty good, featuring some cool vintage soldier kit, uniforms, vehicles and armoury and an explosive opening. While the descent into the underground bunker is a genuinely spooky ghost ride. On the minus side, there are few surprises on offer, the dialogue is delivered badly, and the corny humour just doesn’t work in a film that wants to be a tough, brutal horror. The German accents are particularly laughable, while Larkin slips into his native Scottish tongue on more than one occasion.

Outpost III (2013)

Despite this – and the fact that the monstrous creations are no more than wrestlers bulging out of their uniforms – the film does exactly what it says on the tin, and kudos especially go to Larkin as the fearless Wolverine-inspired Russian fighter hero. He certainly gets my vote as Man of the Match.

Outpost III (2013)

FAVOURITE LINE
‘Asshole or bullet? In the end you’ll scream just the same’

Outpost III: Rise of the Spetsnaz is out on DVD in UK from eOne Entertainment (order from Amazon) and premieres on The Horror Channel (Sky 317, Virgin 149, Freeview 70, Freesat 138) today at 11pm.

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House | The hit horror franchise restored and uncut on Blu-ray and DVD

HOUSEStep inside! You’re frightfully welcome! The hit horror House franchise opens its creaky doors once again with the release of all four instalments on DVD and Blu-ray, with 2k restorations and all uncut.

For those who didn’t snap up the House: The Collection box-set back in March 2017, you can now add these beauties to your home cinema collection as individual releases.

House

Having looked at the bonus extras on offer, Arrow have added some newbies, including the first draft screenplay of House, vintage Making Of featurettes of House and House II, and workprint footage of the final two instalments, alongside all the other great special features that were featured in the Collection box-set.

Makes for a great stocking filler! And don’t those covers look cool?

If you want to read more about the House franchise, check out my original post HERE

HOUSE IIHOUSE IIIHOUSE IV

 

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Blood Diner (1987) | The insane cult horror comedy restored and remastered on Blu-ray!

Blood Diner (1989)

This semi-sequel/remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast (1963) was written by Michael Sonye (aka Haunted Garage’s Dukey Flyswatter) and directed by Jackie Kong. It follows two weirdo brothers Michael (Rick Burks) and George (Carl Crew) and the reanimated brain of their serial killer uncle Anwar (Drew Godderis) as they attempt to resurrect an ancient Lumerian goddess, Sheetar, using the body parts of immoral young women and the sacrifice of a virgin to awaken Sheetar’s powers…

Blood Diner (1987)

Given only a limited release back in 1987, Blood Diner’s cult reputation has grown over the years. Now, I do remember seeing it lurking in VHS bargain bins back in the day, but I never saw it until now as it’s been dusted off and given a HD Blu-ray makeover as part of Lionsgate’s Vestron Video re-issues – and I must say Blood Diner certainly belongs in the ‘it’s so-bad it’s good’ section of my cult film library.

Blood Diner (1987)

The music is a bizarre mix of dire synth score, 1960s soul and mambo; while the acting (featuring the worst accents ever) is abysmal, but it’s all shot with such energy and OTT garishness – just like the Troma films of the day – that I’ve actually gone back for a second helping.

Featuring hilarious gross-out sequences and lots of blood, gore, cartoon violence and projectile vomiting, Blood Diner is one seriously insane ride. It also boasts the kind of way-out characters you’d expect from an early John Waters movie, including a burger bar owner whose ventriloquist dummy does all the talking, an obese food critic, a manic archaeologist, and that talking brain in glass jar.

Blood Diner (1987)

Naked female flesh – and their entrails – are high on the menu alongside some quite nasty acts of violence against women and misogynist humour like ‘Every heard of battered girlfriends?’, which made me question whether the film’s female director was making some kind of a statement or not? There’s also some broad swipes against health food fanatics and the homeless which border on being just a little too unkind.

Blood Diner (1987)

Filling out the running time is a unnecessary wrestling match involving an Ayran bloke wearing a Hitler moustache and Nazi insignia, while the film’s big set piece is the ‘blood buffet’ where Sheetah, now resurrected, and sporting what looks like a man-eating vagina with teeth in place of her stomach, causes complete mayhem.

Blood Diner (1987)

Given the cult status that Troma’s Toxic Avenger has acquired over the years, this insane 1980s horror comedy is certainly in the same league. And now that its been restored and remastered – you never know, we might just see a stage musical adaptation one day soon. I know I’d pay to see that (just minus the misogyny).

Blood Diner is released through Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK, and includes the following special features:
• Audio commentary with director Jackie Kong
• Six Blood Diner featurettes: Queen Kong; The Cook, The Uncle, and The Detective; Open for Business; Scoring for Sheetar; You Are What They Eat!
• Archive interview with project consultant Eric Caidin
• Trailer, TV Sports and Still Gallery

 

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Your Guide to Universal’s Mummy Films of the 1940s

The Mummy's Ghost

Recently, I got a hold of Universal’s The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection on Blu-ray, which gave me a chance to revisit not only the Karloff original, but also the 1940’s Kharis Mummy movies, which I had not seen since I was a kid.

Now released in HD for the first time, they sure look great, but – boy! – aren’t they a perfect example of the law of diminishing returns? Here’s a look back at the shuffling mis-adventures of Kharis, the ancient Egyptian avenger…

The Mummy's Hand

The Mummy’s Hand, 1940
Starring Dick Foran, George Zucco, Cecil Kellaway.
Director: Christy Cabanne.

Eight years after Boris Karloff donned bandages for Karl Freund’s The Mummy, Universal resuscitated the movie monster (now called Kharis, as Karloff’s Im-Ho-Tep had crumbled to dust) for four new adventures. Cowboy star Tom Tyler is the black-eyed Egyptian avenger restored to life (with the fluid from a handful of Tana leaves) by Andoheb, George Zucco’s-newly appointed High Priest of Karnak, to wreak revenge on the archaeological team who are trying to locate the tomb of the Princess Ananka (whom Kharis tried to raise from the dead back in 1472 BC, but ended getting buried alive with his tongue cut out).

Dick Foran is the archaeologist, Steve Banning, and Wallace Ford is his wisecracking sidekick, Babe Jenson; while Cecil Kellaway is the travelling magician who funds their doomed trip, and Peggy Moran is his daughter who gets carried away by Kharis (literally) when Zucco’s Andoheb decides to make her immortal – much to Kharis’ annoyance.

To save on the budget, Kharis’ back-story incorporates Karloff’s incarceration from the 1932 film, while the temple from Universal’s 1940 adventure Green Hell is also re-used as Zucco’s secret lair in the Hill of the Seven Jackals. Looking at it today, the film is a bit of a joke as there’s no real horror on display, suspense or drama (although Tyler’s weird black eyes still disturb). It plays more like a comical adventure serial, and nobody bothered to double-check the hieroglyphics (which are meaningless), the Arabic (misspelled), or doing any historical research (Zucco’s temple is more Mayan than Egyptian, and his character mistakes the Incas as coming from Mexico).

Except for the odd flash of inventiveness that recall Universal’s 1930s glory days when German expressionism informed its production design, it’s a poor start to the Kharis series. Thankfully, Hammer would put their own macabre stamp on the iconic creature when they used this film and its sequel, The Mummy’s Tomb, as the basis for their 1957 Technicolor version.

The Mummy's Tomb

The Mummy’s Tomb, 1942
Starring Lon Chaney Jr, Dick Foran, Turhan Bey.
Director: Harold Young.

30 years after the Banning Expedition desecrated Princess Ananka’s tomb in The Mummy’s Hand, Kharis (who survived his blazing demise) is transported to a cemetery in Mapleton, Massachusetts by Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey, aka the Turkish Delight), under the orders of George Zucco’s expiring Andoheb (who somehow survived being shot multiple times in the previous entry) to hunt down and kill the remaining members of the dig and their descendants.

Purists have often wondered whether it really is Lon Chaney Jr all the time under Jack Pierce’s make-up and bandages (as there are three stunt people also credited, including Eddie Parker); and whether playing a role in which he neither speaks nor is recognisable was a wise career choice. His shuffling Kharis is pretty poor. Moving at a snail’s pace with one lame arm, it’s incredible that any of his victims don’t just run away – instead they stay put (as though frozen in fear), or pretend to be cornered so that he can lunge at them with his one powerful arm (he was supposedly restored partially paralysed in the first film because of a lack of Tana leaf juice) and strangle them to death.

To keep the budget small and to fill out the running time, extensive flashbacks from The Mummy’s Hand are used before we get a repeat of the previous film’s revenge plot – only minus the wise cracks and pratfalls. The film does have some atmospheric cinematography and lighting effects, courtesy of George Robinson (Son of Frankenstein, Tower of London), especially the scenes set in the American gothic-styled cemetery. And it all looks a treat in this HD Blu-ray presentation, although it does show up the rubber mask on the Mummy as well.

Like the first film, it ends with a frightened lovely (Elyse Knox) dressed in another stunning Vera West gown being carted off by Kharis, so that the infatuated High Priest can make her his immortal bride. And, once again, the villain is shot while Kharis goes up in flames…

The Mummy's Ghost

The Mummy’s Ghost, 1944
Starring Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine, George Zucco.
Director: Reginald LeBorg

My favourite of the Kharis mummy series, this one starts off just the last two, with George Zucco again playing the withered old High Priest (who seems to have more lives than a cat) who tasks another acolyte, this time a youthful John Carradine (as Youssef Bey) with bringing Ananka and Kharis back home to Egypt.

Bizarrely, Ananka’s protectors aren’t the High Priests of Karnak now, but Arkam. However, those Tana leaves are still lurking about – but with added mythology. Just as wolfbane can cure lyncathropy if prepared during a full moon, the fluid taken from the Tana leaves during the same lunar cycle can usher forth Kharis’ ghost (hence the title).

While the film is basically the same plot as the previous two, director Reginald LeBorg does stir things up by having the Princess reincarnated in the shapely form of former pin-up Ramsay Ames. She plays Amina Mensori, a student of Egyptology who is based in the very same town that Kharis shuffled amok years beforehand. LeBorg brings much flair to the proceedings, and there’s a real effort to make Chaney’s Mummy more menacing looking (BTW: his appearance ended up being used as the template for Aurora’s classic glow in the dark model kit that I have had since I was a kid).

In a clever nod to The Bride of Frankenstein, Ames gets a white streak in her perfectly-coiffured bonnet, which turns pure white as Ananka’s soul takes over (causing her to age rapidly) when Kharis ends up carrying her down into the murky depths of a nearby swamp in the film’s climax.

The Mummy's Ghost

The Mummy's Curse

The Mummy’s Curse, 1944
Starring Lon Chaney Jr, Virginia Christine, Martin Kosleck.
Director: Leslie Goodwins.

Five months after the release of The Mummy’s Ghost, Universal rushed out this final sequel for a Christmas release, thus completing Lon Chaney Jr’s trio of turns as the shuffling undead Kharis (although he did spoof the character in an episode of Route 66 in 1962’s Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing). And – except for one sequence – this is the worst of the lot.

Unlike today, Universal had little care for their franchise and totally stuffs up the continuity and mythology by setting this follow-up in Louisiana instead of New England. When the swamp where Kharis and Ananka drowned is planned to be drained the Scripps Museum sends two representatives, Dr James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and an Egyptian colleague Zandaab (Peter Cobb), to retrieve their bodies. Of course, Zanbaab is secretly a high priest of the Arkam set, and he has help in construction worker Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), who has Kharis’ body interred at an old abandoned monastery.

Meanwhile, Princess Ananka emerges from a muddy coffin and ends up a Jane Doe in the care of Halsey and his girl Betty (Kay Harding). Of course, its not long before Kharis arrives on the scene and whisks her away for the final showdown at the monastery… which ends badly for one and all, especially poor Ananka.

This was a rare horror entry from British-born director Leslie Goodwins, who was better at low-budget comedies, and also marked the feature debut of Virginia Christine, who’d go onto light character roles. It’s quite poor, and reeks of racial stereotyping, especially the Cajun Joe character. Chaney only gets one good scene, at the end, as the monastery collapses on him (watch him keep his composure as a heavy brick smashes into his face); and the day-for-night shots are infuriating. But it does have one scene which still haunts, and that’s when Christine’s Ananka emerges from her resting place in the swamp. It’s a striking scene, especially in the way in which Christine plays it.

The Mummy's Curse

Of course, Universal couldn’t keep their Mummy down for too long. In 1955, Abbott and Costello got their chance to have a date with Klaris (a pun on Kharis) for their 28th and final film comedy, with Eddie Parker wearing what looks like a onesie decorated with a bandage motif. Except to fans of the comic duo and their verbal gymnastics, this was a poor end to their feature film careers.

Abott and Costello Meet the Mummy

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