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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17- The Mummy's Hand (1940)

With the horror genre once again flourishing for Universal Studios, the company decided to put out a new string of Mummy movies. These aren't a direct sequel to The Mummy from 1931. Instead, this set of movies follows a different mummy, named Kharis (played in this film by Tom Tyler).

Tom Tyler as Kharis, the mummy

Andoheb (played by George Zucco)
The Egyptian Andoheb (George Zucco) is summoned to the Hills of the Seven Jackals by the High Priest (Eduardo Cianelli). Andoheb is told the story of Kharis, a mummy who is trying to revive the Princess, Ananka with Tana leaves, which have also been keeping Kharis alive. Kharis was buried alive for trying to revive the Princess in his past life, and in fact, some stock footage from the 1931 The Mummy is shown to explain the death and burial of Kharis (even though Boris Karloff played Imhotep in the original). After this story, Andoheb is given the responsibility of keeping Kharis alive by melting 3 Tana leaves to keep him alive and 9 to ensure that Kharis can protect Princess Ananka's tomb. Andoheb is warned never to brew more than 9 Tana leaves or Kharis will become an "uncontrollable monster." Andoheb is then made the new High Priest of Karnak.

Kharis before becoming a mummy
Meanwhile, a struggling archaeologist Steve Banning (played by Dick Foran) and his assistant Babe Jenson (played by Wallace Ford) are in a bazaar when the spot an interesting piece of broken pottery. It is surmised at the Cairo Museum, with the help of Dr. Petrie (Charles Trowbridge), that the pottery is an important clue to finding the tomb of Princess Ananka. Andoheb, the man in charge of the museum, denounces Banning's desire to find the tomb. While at a bar, Banning and Jenson meet The Great Solvani (Cecil Kelloway), a famous magician, who agrees to help fund Banning's expedition to find the Princess' tomb. Meanwhile, Andoheb convinces Solvani's daughter Marta (played by Peggy Moran) that the two archaeologists are frauds, but the expedition begins nonetheless, despite Marta holding a gun on Jensen at one point.

Wallace Ford, Peggy Moran, and Dick Foran

During the expedition, the group stumbles on the tomb of Kharis, where they also find the tana leaves that have been keeping the mummy alive, although that secret hasn't been revealed. During the night, Dr. Petrie is met in the tomb by Andoheb, who reveals to Dr. Petrie that Kharis is still alive. It is then that Andoheb brews 9 tana leaves, so Kharis can awake and murder Dr. Petrie. It isn't long before Kharis begins attacking the other members at the camp, and the commotion ends with Kharis kidnapping Marta.

About to sacrifice Marta

Banning and Jensen manage to follow Kharis through a secret tunnel to the temple of Karnak from the beginning of the film. There, Andoheb plans to use the tana liquid to make both him and Marta immortal so they can spend eternity together. Jensen arrives and shoots Andoheb, preventing his plan from unfolding. Kharis arrives on the seen, and after Marta reveals the way that Kharis has been kept alive, Kharis is prevented from drinking anymore of the tana liquid. Kharis is set on fire and the day is saved. The Americans return to the United States with the mummy of Princess Ananka.

An early Universal B-Movie. Low budget, still a classic.

This film was the true beginning of the Universal B-movies. For those of you that don't know, B-movies are films made on a rather low-budget in a relatively short period of time. Usually, these films recycle stock footage from previous films, and these films also usually feature obscure actors/actresses or use a single person's star power (one such example is the way Bela Lugosi was used by director Ed Wood to promote his films) in a number of films. This film has a mix of laughs, thrills, and a decent storyline for a B-movie. Moving forward, we'll take a look at the Kharis mummy films featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as the mummy (3 movies, to be exact). Overall though, this movie was pretty well made for what it is. I enjoyed watching it, and I'm pretty sure you will, too.

I give it 4 tana leaves out of 5.

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