The Mummy's Hand

Tag line : The Tomb of a Thousand Terrors!

The Mummy's HandAnother Universal Mummy film, but NOT actually a sequel to Boris Karloff's "The Mummy". This one being the first in a separate series of films about a Mummy named Kharis. The film starts off, where most Mummy films do, in Egypt. Where archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford) think they may have discovered the whereabouts of the tomb of the Egyptian Princess Ananka.

Having secured funding from an unlikely source, an American magician named Solvani (Cecil Kellaway), who's amassed a small fortune peddling his tricks around the middle east, they mount an expedition to try and find the tomb and uncover the treasures within.

But the dig doesn't exactly go to plan (well it wouldn't would it?). Whilst they do uncover a tomb, the Mummy is most definitely not that of Ananka. It turns out to be that of a chap named Kharis, a lover of the former Princess, who was executed for trying to steal leaves from the mythical Tana plant, which are supposed to contain the powers of resurrection.

As the party beds down for the night, the camp is rocked by a series of grisly murders and they discover that Kharis is strangely nowhere to be found. Yes it seems Kharis the Mummy (Tom Tyler) is not actually quite dead yet, being kept alive by a secret society of Priests (lead by character actor George Zuco) who've been feeding him Tana leaf potion, and they are determined to keep the explorers from discovering Ananka's tomb at any cost. Even if it means having the undead Kharis murder the whole lot of them.

If you ever wondered where those clichéd images of ancient mummies shuffling around, carrying off nubile young ladies into the night came from, then look no further than this film. Though completely unrelated to the similarly themed Karloff film from 8 years previous (that one being about a character named Imhotep), it does owe more than a passing nod to it, being basically a loose remake (even re-using footage of the Mummification scene from that film). However, this film ultimately proves to be the more entertaining as at least you get to see the Mummy shuffling around in this, unlike the earlier Karloff film in which you only see him in bandages during the intro before spending the rest of that film disguised as an Egyptian.

As with other Black and White Universal films of that era, this isn't a particularly long feature, clocking in at just over an hour. But they do manage to cram a lot of storytelling into that time. Former Cowboy/Western actor Tom Tyler is quite imposing as the titular monster and Wallace Ford, who kind-of reminded me of Lou Costello, helps liven up the story with his comical antics. But owing to the age and style of this film, will probably only appeal to fans of "older" movies.

Overall marks : 4.5/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Alternate tag lines "They dared the curse of the ancients... to solve the most amazing mystery ever encountered by mortal man!", "

  • For the close up scenes, Tom Tyler's eyes and mouth were painted out black on the film reel, frame by frame, to make his Mummy character appear more menacing. However, this was not done on the trailers, where his original eyes and mouth can still be clearly seen.

  • The mummy's make up was created by Jack Pierce, who also did the make-up for the Boris Karloff Mummy film. He also did the make-up for "Dracula" (1931), "Frankenstein" (1932) and "The Wolf Man" (1941).

  • Wallace Ford also starred in Tod Browning's "Freaks" (1932).

  • The camels used in the film were the 2-humped Bactrian type. However, if they were really in Egypt, they would have been riding the single humped Dromedary variety.

  • For the scenes inside the High Priest's temple, they re-used a set left over from the jungle adventure film "Green Hell" (1940).

  • Character actor George Zucco also starred in "Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939).

  • The excavation scenes in Egypt were actually filmed amongst some hills in California, on land owned by Universal Studios. They added a false rock face and some boulders to give it a more "canyon" like feel.

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