The Mummy's Hand
Adventure / Fantasy / Horror
The Mummy's Hand
Adventure / Fantasy / Horror
A couple of comical, out-of-work archaeologists (Dick Foran and Wallace Ford) in Egypt discover evidence of the burial place of the ancient Egyptian princess Ananka. After receiving funding from an eccentric magician (Cecil Kellaway) and his beautiful daughter (Peggy Moran), they set out into the desert only to be terrorized by a sinister high priest (George Zucco) and the living mummy Kharis (Tom Tyler) who are the guardians of Ananka^Òs tomb.
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The Mummy's Hand (1940) ***
Not a sequel to Boris Karloff's THE MUMMY (1932), but the start of an entirely different series of unrelated films featuring a new mummified prince called Kharis. A group of amateur but likable treasure seekers search for the tomb of an ancient princess, but they encounter the still-living mummy instead, bent on destroying anyone who would dare defile the ancient Egyptian gods.
While not a great Universal horror movie by any means (one critique would be the re-usage of the same exact shot again and again of Kharis shambling about in the wilderness) this was the first and best of four Universal films featuring the mummy Kharis. At this stage of the game the formula was still fresh and not at all clichéd or monotonous, so that already places HAND at a distinct advantage over its other sequels and spin-off's. Tom Tyler makes one very creepy mummy, all arthritic and twisted, with weird eyes that are optically blackened out for full effect in chilling closeups (albeit the same repeated closeup). George Zucco takes top honors as the deliciously mad High Priest who keeps the mummy alive and killing via the sacred brew of nine ancient tana leaves. Dick Foran, Wallace Ford, Cecil Kellaway and the perky Peggy Moran are all very pleasant as the awkward explorers who stumble upon Kharis' cursed tomb. Comic relief is well used throughout, but never becomes intrusive, as the action always remains dead serious whenever the mummy takes center stage.
*** out of ****
good mummy movie with some comedic elements, but definitely a horror film
An Egyptian man is told by is father an account of a Priest named Kharis who was in love with a Princess Annanka, and wanted to bring her back from the dead by stealing Tana leaves. There's no indication that she was in love with him. He is caught, and his tongue cut out, and buried alive with Tana leaves. The Egyptian man in the current day made high priest and is given the responsibility of keeping Kharis semi-alive with doses of three liquefied Tana leaves. If the Princess' tomb is going to be violated, then Kharis is to be revived with nine Tana leaves to destroy those responsible.
I found it odd that a man who was going to desecrate Annanka's grave was given the responsibility of guarding it. Perhaps it was poetic justice, and he lacked the ability to want to try to bring her back to life again. Indeed, the mummy of Kharis lacks the ability to do much more than move and carry out orders, and desire Tana leaves almost like a junkie.
Two men from Brooklyn stumble across a vase with a clue as to the whereabouts of Annanka's tomb. They see the opportunity to become rich and famous. They run it by the head of the Egyptian museum, who is the high priest, as it happens. He tries to dissuade them. His dual identity reminded me of Karloff's dual identity as mummy and scholar in The Mummy, to which this is only thematically a sequel.
The Brooklynites manage to get funding from a fellow Brooklynite and stage magician. After some trouble with his daughter, who was led to believe they were frauds, they go to find the tomb. (Oddly, one of her lines seems to have been dubbed in "I'll fix them with my trick revolver," to what purpose I'm not sure.) This of course means that a mummy is going to come to life! The mummy is given creepy jittery all-black eyes which was neat.
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just plain old fashioned fun
This movie marked the beginning of a new series of Mummy films from Universal Studios--seven years after the original Boris Karloff classic, THE MUMMY. This was the one mummy film starring Tom Tyler as the monster, but it is a really good film--so good that it inspired three followup films.
The real star of the film isn't Dick Foran or his pal, Wallace Ford,...nor is it Tom Tyler. No, the guy who really steals the show is the ever-campy George Zucco. In traditional films I don't know if Zucco would have succeeded, but in B-horror flicks, he was great--with his cool accent and crazy eyes. It seems that madman Zucco (that's not much of a stretch) is leader of a weird cult and he is trying to revive the mummy, Karhis, using the dreaded Tanna Leaves! Can he be stopped in time or will this horror be unleashed on the infidels?! Tune in and see.
I love this film not because it is great art but because it is great entertainment and is a great example of the Saturday morning B-horror films of yesterday. Kids and adults loved them despite their predictability--because they were just plain escapist fun! This movie has it all!