Director: Christy Cabanne
Writers: Griffin Jay and Maxwell Shane
Cast: Dick Foran, Peggy Moran, Wallace Ford, Eduardo Cianelli, George Zucco, Cecil Kelloway, Charles Trowbridge, Tom Tyler, Siegfried Arno, Eddie Foster, Harry Stubbs, Michael Mark, Mara Tartar, and Leon Belasco
Composer: H.J. Salter
Release Date: 9/20/1940
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Financed by the Great Solvani (Cecil Kelloway)—an elderly magician—and his daughter Marta (Peggy Moran), Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford) search for the burial site of Princess Ananka. Though unsuccessful in their efforts to locate Ananka, the archaeologists uncover the mummified remains of Kharis (Tom Tyler), who, when administered a rejuvenating tana leaf brew by the conniving Andoheb (George Zucco), finds himself compelled to guard the princess’ tomb at all costs.
A superfluous reimagining of The Mummy, The Mummy’s Hand forgoes the atmospheric tension of its predecessor in favor of a more adventurous, lighthearted execution. Despite employing the formula of a generic safari feature, this installment puts a unique spin on the mummy premise by placing a high priest, not Kharis, in a position to commit unspeakable acts of evil.
Rendered a mere puppet subject to the machinations of a malevolent Egyptian priest, the titular mummy fills a less dynamic role than did his counterpart from the original film. While Universal Monster fans may find Kharis’ function as a mute henchman to be undignified, such an approach should nonetheless be commended for allowing George Zucco to counter the high jinks of Dick Foran and Wallace Ford with his sinister acting.
A poor man’s Abbott and Costello, Steve and Babe frequently overshadow the Mummy with their lackluster comedy routine. Especially distracting are the flippant remarks made by Babe following the death of a fellow expedition member, which serve only to undermine the monster’s foreboding presence and therefore have no place in a serious horror film.
As opposed to Imhotep, Kharis commits his murderous deeds while fully visible to the audience. Though a crippled, lurching manner gives Kharis an imposing quality, a lack of physical concealment diminishes any suspense that would have otherwise “shrouded” the Mummy prior to revealing himself at the appropriate time; in contrast, the first film never completely exposes Imhotep until he assumes a more human appearance—an effect that provides him with an air of subtlety from start to finish.
Similar to Dracula and the Wolf Man, Kharis is driven to perform heinous crimes by a power far greater than his own; thus, the Mummy cannot be considered altogether evil despite the brutality of which he is capable. Unfortunately, The Mummy’s Hand never attempts to elicit sympathy for its eponymous character—a tactic that, if properly implemented, could have allowed Kharis to join the ranks of Frankenstein’s creature, the Gill-man, Larry Talbot, and other “monsters” who kill only when motivated by supernatural forces and/or severe provocation.
The Mummy’s Hand is a decent, albeit forgettable, follow-up to the 1932 masterpiece starring Boris Karloff. Exceptionally commendable is Zucco’s portrayal of Andoheb, which arguably surpasses the one-dimensional performance of Tom Tyler.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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