Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Mummy's Ghost - in Brief

To continue yesterday's discussion of those 8mm digested movies which were available for home viewing (if you had a suitable projector) right up to the early eighties, today I present a cut down version of one of those Universal Mummy movies from the forties I was on about last week.  Reduced to eight minutes or so, The Mummy's Ghost is actually almost tolerable. Even with a running time of just over an hour, the full version is unbelievably tedious, with its reincarnation theme and leaden pace.  Even the presence of John Carradine can't enliven it.  However, the shortened version makes no more sense than the full version - just why does the girl carried off by the Mummy apparently turn into a mummy herself?  After all, she's meant to be the reincarnation of an Ancient Egyptian princess, not her mummified remains, (which we see turn to dust at the beginning of the film).

This condensed version of The Mummy's Ghost was one of a number of such digests of Universal horror classics produced and distributed by Castle Films, (some when in the fifties Universal became the major shareholder in Castle, thereby giving them access to the studio's library).  Although many were, like this one, straight digests of an entire film, others took a more radical approach, highlighting one particular sub-plot and constructing am eight minute mini-movie around it.  Doom of Dracula, for instance, takes all of the Dracula-related footage from House of Frankenstein and fashions it into a stand alone story.  Likewise, I've seen two similar features edited from House of Dracula, one featuring the vampire footage, another the wolfman footage, (although they can't avoid Lon Chaney Jr briefly popping up, without explanation, in the Dracula segment).  I presume there was also a short featuring the Frankenstein monster edited from House of Dracula

This whole world of 8mm shorts is quite fascinating, (I say 8mm, but Castle also produced some in 16mm, including a condensed version of Psycho), and the more I dig into it, the more interesting stuff I turn up. So, stay tuned for more from the world of 8mm movie digests!



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