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Director: Charles Lamont
Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marie Windsor, Michael Ansara, Peggy King, Richard Deacon, Mel Welles
By the end of the 1940s, both the Universal monster cycle and the comedy duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were running on fumes. Bringing them together in 1948’s …Meet Frankenstein was a last hurrah, an idea that shouldn’t have worked, didn’t in some places, but was still massively enjoyable all the same. That was it though. Time to call it a day.
Universal had other ideas and the pair would go on to “meet” everyone from The Killer (Boris Karloff) and The Invisible Man (sadly not voiced by Vincent Price) to Jekyll & Hyde.
By 1955, their comedy stylings were a busted flush and their partnership was approaching its end, which just adds to the visible lack of enthusiasm with their second last film together.
Abbot And Costello Meet The Mummy is, to put not too fine a point on it, wretched. Lacking as much in scares as well as laughs (which …Meets Frankenstein at least had in abundance), it’s what happens when people are going through the motions. There’s no joy, no sense that anyone involved cares in any way about The Mummy, or even about making a decent film.
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are Americans stranded in Egypt who hear of the discovery of an ancient Mummy called Klaris, guardian of the tomb of Princess Ara.
Dr Gustav Zoomer (Kurt Katch) plans to take the find over to America, but is murdered by the followers of Klaris, led by Semu (Richard Deacon) who has the mummy stolen just before the duo arrive at the house to apply for the job of transporting it.
The cultists have left behind Klaris sacred medallion though, which falls into the hands of Bud and Lou. As well as Semu, a shady businesswoman called Rontru (Marie Windsor) has her eyes on it and the pair find themselves in a series of scrapes as they try to make their fortune while avoiding the cultists and the now reanimated Klaris…
God, this is bad. For all it’s faults, …Meet Frankenstein showed what you could do with dropping the Universal monsters into a comedy. Play them straight, as if it’s their film and let Abbot and Costello react to it. It’s not rocket science. Here though, it’s just lazy, uninspiring slapstick from the off.
There’s no drama, no tension or horror, but no laughs either. There’s nothing to engage the viewer at all.
Worse, there’s a feeling of “that’ll do” running all through it. Abbot and Costello don’t even bother using the names given to them in the script, they just use their own, while the Mummy, who has been called Kharis for nearly the entire series, it’s spuriously renamed Klaris here. It’s just a little thing, but it’s so pointless, it just smacks of a production that doesn’t care.
Bud and Lou’s chemistry is well past it’s sell-by date by this point. We’ve seen it all before and there’s a tangible feeling that the pair would rather be anywhere else. The repetition is so bad that even the scene where they are repeatedly trying to foist the cursed amulet on each other is a direct lift of their famous Slipping the Mickey routine from 1848’s The Naughty Nineties.
Kharis…sorry *Klaris* looks decent enough. Not great, a bit exposed in the mouth area, but better than The Mummy has looked on at least one other occasion. He’d played strictly for laughs though and that’s the problem. The Mummy is an undead killing machine, one that will not stop trying to murder its victims until it’s put down. That’s what it does. By making it the butt of the jokes, or at least the facilitator of the humour, you lose everything that makes it what it is. And that’s what happens here from the moment it appears.
It’s not all bad as there’s some nice scoring from the uncredited Henry Mancini, Irving Gertz, Lou Maury and Hans J. Salter. That’s it though. The only thing I can recommend about this awful, awful waste of celluloid.
Sure it was repetitive and compared to other Universal monsters, it wasn’t the best, but The Mummy cycle deserved a better ending than this.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy