Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mummy's Hand, The (1940)

Director: Christy Cabanne
Notable Cast: Dick Foran, Peggy Moran, Wallace Ford, Eduardo Ciannelli, George Zucco, Cecil Kellaway, Charles Trowbridge, Tom Tyler

With their other monster franchises going strong, Universal decided to resurrect a long dead monster right before the outbreak of World War II. This monster is of course The Mummy, perhaps the most overlooked of all the Universal monsters. This sequel to the 1932 classic starring Boris Karloff doesn't feature the same cloth wrapped foe Im-Ho-Tep. This time we get a mummy named Kharis in the form of Western legend Tom Tyler and a whole new story line would start for a total of four films.

The film opens with plenty of stock footage from the original Mummy, showing the story of Kharis and his forbidden love for a princess. Like the original he gets caught and is buried alive. Cut to 1940 and we are introduced to two struggling archeologists who buy a broken vase because it has an inscription about the tomb of a Princess Ananka. They seek financial support from a wealthy magician and his daughter and head out to the desert only to find the tomb of Kharis, who becomes resurrected with the aid of a solution of Tana leaves to get revenge.

The Mummy never got the respect from Universal horror fans compared to the other monsters and Universal treated the monster the same way with this ultra cheap film. Everything about this film is second rate like Universal just wanted to throw a quickly mummy film together without much effort. We have stock footage from the original Mummy shamelessly used and played off as new footage. The only thing different about these scenes is the close-ups of Karloff are replaced by Tyler! The music is also lifted from previous Universal monster films and the sets are recycled from Universal's jungle adventure Green Hell. There is also no scrolls with magic mumbo jumbo as this time our mummy is resurrected by tea, yes, tea leaves! Sure it was a "unique" idea on how to resurrect the mummy but I found it just a little laugh inducing. The film is also filled with a lot of comic relief from our sidekick archeologist Wallace Ford but most of it falls flat. His joke about Jackals and Jackasses being first cousins and about the same thing made me hit my forehead. All this is crammed into a film barely over an hour long, further proving the lack of effort that went into it.

Despite this films many flaws, it still fulfilled a child-hood wanting that the first film didn't. This sequel has a shambling mummy walking around killing people! The original Mummy only had Karloff in the mummy makeup for a very short period of time. Not this film! The make-up on the mummy is also fantastic, making this perhaps the best looking mummy of the entire Universal franchise. Universal also went in after the film was completed and frame-by-frame blackened out the eyes of Tom Tyler giving the mummy an even more creepy appearance.

This is a B-movie by all means and a cheap cash-in by Universal to bring back one of their classic monsters. Even with all the flaws I actually had a very good time with this film. The characters, other than some lame comic relief, were likable and the mummy was nice and creepy. Plus we get our first shambling, stalking mummy on film! Fans of B-monster movies are encouraged to check it out. Like I mentioned before, the storyline of this film would be carried on into three more films: The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost, and The Mummy's Curse proving that even though Universal showed no respect to this film, it still made a ton of money. Legendary British horror studio Hammer would even remake this film, along with the first follow-up The Mummy's Tomb, into the 1959 film The Mummy starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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