John Ary's Aint It Scary Reviews #7 Of 31!! Lon Chaney Jr In THE MUMMY'S CURSE!!
John Ary here with another installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews. Today Universal’s classic Mummy franchise limps into it’s final installment.
Lon Chaney Jr. signed a contract with Universal Pictures in 1941. His first monster picture was The Wolf Man playing the titular character. From there he would go on to play the Wolf Man again several times along with other monsters like the Frankenstein creature, the Mummy, and the son of Dracula. Chaney gets top billing in 1944’s The Mummy’s Curse, but the true star of the movie doesn’t appear on camera. I’m talking about Chaney’s behind the scenes adversary, makeup artist Jack Pierce. There are only two reasons to see this film: Pierce’s amazing make-up work and if you are Mummy completist.
This is the fifth installment in the Mummy franchise from Universal. It started in 1932 with Boris Karloff as Imhotep, but the series was quickly rebooted in 1940. Somehow the Mummy, now name Kharis, has been trapped in a Louisiana swamp with his princess. If the timeline presented in the film works out right, the year is 1995. Apparently things haven’t changed much from the 40s as racial stereotypes still inhabit this rural work camp. A land developer wants to drain the swamp, but all of the workers are fearful. They believe the swamp is cursed. Some guys from a museum show up and tell the land developer that they believe there are a couple of mummies in the swamp and they can’t wait to start digging. It’s around this time that the first body shows up. We later find out The Mummy is indeed on the loose and searching for his princess. She also wakes up, but for some reason can’t remember her past. Anyone who tries to help her, ends up dead at the hands of a the mummy.
The movie only runs 62 minutes, but after the first few kills it all becomes very repetitive. The Mummy looks great, but moves like an old lady. It doesn’t seem like he would be that hard to get away from. While he can take a shotgun to the gut and has the strength of ten men, his lack of speed makes him the worst assassin ever. Also the writing and acting are not that great. If there was one character that I wanted the Mummy to take out it would be the main hero. Every line he delivers is terrible, but really the rest of the cast isn’t far behind in the hammy overacting category.
The main reason to see this is the makeup work. It’s stunning. The Mummy’s face looks like dried out leather. His costume is perfectly detailed. When the princess awakens, her body is covered in layers of dirt. It’s such a shame she has to go and wash off her outer mummified layer. Jack Pierce and Chaney hated each other. Apparently with bandages and make-up it took 8 hours to prepare Chaney each day for his role as the mummy. Before this, Pierce would glue yak hair to Chaney’s face and then burn it with a hot iron to get the right look for the Wolfman. The Mummy’s Curse proves the old adage: with great suffering comes great art. Thank you to Lon Chaney Jr. for suffering through Jack Pierce’s torture. The Mummy makeup is spectacular. Fans of classic creature features are richer for it.
The Mummy’s Curse is currently streaming on Netflix. It’s also available on DVD with The Mummy’s Ghost here.
Check back in tomorrow for another Ain’t It Scary Review as a hardened detective takes on a master of the occult in a 1990’s horror noir tale.
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Oct. 7, 2012, 9:16 a.m. CST
My first Mummy comment
Oct. 7, 2012, 10:11 a.m. CST
These personal appraisals of old movies are not what ain't it Cool News was supposed to be about. It ain't cool and it ain't news.
Oct. 7, 2012, 11:47 a.m. CST
by Monnie Knapp
These are fun articles celebrating the season and showcasing some older/more obscure films that a lot of readers probably overlooked. The real point here is: if you don't like this series, don't read the articles. These articles don't "push" anything off the board, just click on "Cool News" at the top and you'll get access to whichever story you wish.
Oct. 7, 2012, 12:31 p.m. CST
by Monnie Knapp
But, at least no Brendan Fraser. Amiright? Now Scott Bakula, that's a different story. I'd trust Captain Archer and his cheese eating dog to protect me from mummies, black magic, Klingons, or whatever.
Oct. 7, 2012, 3:14 p.m. CST
Even though that was the title of the movie, he was always referred to as Count Dracula and never the son of. Another interesting bit of trivia, Pierce was fired during Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstien because of the length of time it took for him to apply the makeup, and was replaced by his assistant Bud Westmore, who was a pioneer of foam latex applications which saved time and were more comfortable for the actors. Chaney was ecstatic, what took hours before now only took about one and was much easier to wear.
Oct. 7, 2012, 4:10 p.m. CST
If you're still taking requests. Besides 'Murder By Decree' I'd reccomend The Changeling. Not the Clint Eastwood movie but the 1980s George C Scott ghost story about a guy who loses his wife and kid in a car accident and retreats to a nice quiet - oh who are we kidding? - haunted house where the ghost has a secret. Really quiet yet disturbing seance and post-seance scenes.
Oct. 7, 2012, 4:34 p.m. CST
Actually elmolincoln (bitchy nitpicking alert), even though Chaney the younger WAS actually Count Dracula in that movie, he is referred to as Count Alucard for most of the flick until the light finally goes off with our heroes (Oooh. What a clever ruse. It takes about 1/16 second for anyone with more than a single brain cell to figure that out, but somehow takes an eternity for the rocket scientists in the film to work out.). ;-)
Oct. 7, 2012, 8:19 p.m. CST
by Monnie Knapp
It's George C. Scott at his most intensely vulnerable. I gotta watch some C. Scott soon, They Might be Giants perhaps?
Oct. 7, 2012, 8:51 p.m. CST
Oct. 7, 2012, 11:50 p.m. CST
You're right, of course, I didn't mention his alias. But he didn't fool Professor Lazlo, the great J. Edward Bromberg, remembered chiefly as the evil alcalde Luis Quintero in the Mark of Zorro, my favorite film.
Oct. 8, 2012, 4:21 a.m. CST
I have nothing to do with this, but I sure have enjoyed it. It's called Oh-the-horror. com. You would like it John Ary. Here is an east link http://www.oh-the-horror.com/ Seriously, my favorite horror website. Great reviews.
Oct. 8, 2012, 4:38 a.m. CST
by albert comin
I second your enthusiasm for "The Changeling" and how good in such an atypical performance George C. Scott is in the movie. I really love that movie. Good to see others feel the love for it.
Oct. 8, 2012, 4:39 a.m. CST
by albert comin
But i was never good at scrabble.
Oct. 8, 2012, 4:41 a.m. CST
by albert comin
- "These personal appraisals of old movies are not what ain't it Cool News was supposed to be about." - Do you actually understand the mission statement of AICN? It's not just about the latest news, you know? Despite what the title might indicate. It's not that literal.
Oct. 8, 2012, 4:47 a.m. CST
Let's call a spade, a spade.
Oct. 8, 2012, 5:50 a.m. CST
If so you'd know how to pronounce Kharis. Thank you to Lon Chaney Jr for complaining about Pierce's attention to detail and the time it took so much he basically got the guy fired. It's also worth noting that in this film the great make up you speak of was nothing but a latex mask by this stage and a zip up suit, all to placate Chaney Jr. Want to see great Mummy make up? This is not the film to see it, as good as it is by comparison to any other Mummy that's not in a classic Universal film
Oct. 8, 2012, 8:17 a.m. CST
You ignored completely the amazing scene where the Princess crawls out of the earth! It's an amazing scene. Something tells me you were watching this film while doing something else.
Oct. 8, 2012, 9:38 a.m. CST
by Gabe Athouse
It would be far more watchable if you improvised with bullet-points, then edited. Just sayin'.
Oct. 8, 2012, 11:08 a.m. CST
Drank 10 gallons of premium!
Oct. 8, 2012, 7:22 p.m. CST
The movie had a very low budget.
Oct. 8, 2012, 7:30 p.m. CST
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