Valentine’s Day – I Love My Mummy!

I love my wife dearly. We never do much on Valentine’s Day and when we do, it is often low-key or unconventional. We loathe the ridiculous crowds and jacked-up prices of the holiday. One disastrous Valentine’s Day (when we were much poorer), I took her to Taco Bell and then to see Resident Evil. That was where I first learned that my wife is terrified of zombies.

This year, I hired one of The Montford Park Players to go to her work and read her one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (#116 if you must know – the one about Love being constant). My wife made me a book of “100 Memories & Things I Love About You” – she bound it herself and included a crisp dollar bill in between each page.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Tonight we are going to the Thursday Night Horror Show at The Carolina. Ken is playing a double feature of Universal’s The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse. I wonder if it will be crowded for Valentine’s Day or empty – either way we will enjoy ourselves.

The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)

“An Egyptian high priest travels to America to reclaim the bodies of ancient Egyptian princess Ananka and her living guardian mummy Kharis. Learning that Ananka’s spirit has been reincarnated into another body, he kidnaps a young woman of Egyptian descent with a mysterious resemblance to the princess. However, the high priest’s greedy desires cause him to lose control of the mummy..”.

The Mummy’s Curse (1944)

“An irrigation project in the rural bayous of Louisiana unearths Kharis the living mummy (Lon Chaney Jr.), who was buried in quicksand 25 years earlier. “

Lon Chaney Jr. – Horror Movie Month

Creighton Chaney had a really tough cross to bear. His father Lon Chaney was one of the most famous actors of the silent screen and was a whiz with makeup and prosthetics. Lon Chaney is best remembered for the title roles of The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Although born to show business, Creighton didn’t begin appearing in films until after his father’s death in 1930.

He appeared in bit parts until Of Mice and Men (1939) where he did an excellent job of portraying Lennie. His signature horror role came in 1941 with The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man (1941) – Not rated

After teasing his friends for believing in werewolves, Larry (Lon Chaney Jr.) is promptly bitten by a rabid wolf and faints. Horror superstars share the screen when Larry wakes to find a gypsy (Bela Lugosi) who moonlights as a werewolf. Cursed by the werewolf’s bite, Larry suffers torturous full-moon transformations and tries to escape the townsfolk who hunt him. Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers and Ralph Bellamy also grace this classic B movie.

Lon Chaney Jr. was not a very good actor but he did excel at portraying depressed-types. He is wonderful as the doomed Lawrence Talbot and would reprise this role repeatedly (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein).

He has a wonderful supporting cast and of course incredible makeup by Jack Pierce. Bela Lugosi has a small but integral role and the delightful Maria Ouspenskaya plays the gypsy fortune teller. Universal stalwarts Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy and Evelyn Ankers round out the cast.

The Mummy’s Curse (1944) – Not rated

When a crew sent by high priest Zandaab (Peter Coe) of Arkam and his servant, Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), unearths the bodies of Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Princess Ananka (Virginia Christine) in a Southern bayou, the bandaged monsters start destroying everything in their path. Leslie Goodwins directs this chiller; Kay Harding, Kurt Katch, Addison Richards, Holmes Herbert and Dennis Moore co-star.

Universal puts some good atmosphere into their horror movies and the Mummy series is no exception but only the Karloff original is classic. The Mummy’s Curse has Lon Chaney Jr. as the slow-shuffling, easily escapable Kharis the Mummy. Fun but highly forgettable.

 

The Black Sleep (1956) – Not rated

Three titans of the horror genre make appearances in this grisly period piece about a young doctor on the verge of being wrongfully executed for murder. Enter Sir Joel Cadman (Basil Rathbone), who gives the condemned man a drug that induces the appearance of death. Once the ruse works, the body is handed over to Cadman, who has his own sick plans for the still-living man. The high-caliber cast includes Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi.

For a Lon Chaney Jr. or Bela Lugosi film this is a big disappointment. Both feature prominently on the poster but neither has much screen time and essentially no dialogue. Still it’s the last film Lugosi completed and it stars Basil Rathbone who has plenty of screen time. John Carradine has a goofy guest spot and Akim Tamiroff is quite humorous as well. Look for noted Ed Wood veteran Tor Johnson as well.

If you are a fan of the above cast then this is a fun watch and a good pick as the film is only available on DVD-R through MGM’s on-demand program.