Ep 1.8: The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)

We bid you welcome to Universal Monsters Cast, where your horror hosts – Gillman Joel, Dr. Shock and Wolfman Josh – regularly brave discussions of the monstrous side of cinema, with a special focus on the Universal Monsters, both the classic films and the emerging Dark Universe.

Season 1. Episode 8. In this episode we are returning to the classic Universal Monsters with Part 1 of a 3 Part series on the Universal mummy sequels. We are joined by special guest The Bride who helps us unwrap the first two Universal mummy sequels, The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942).


[ 00:00:00 ] I. Intro

– Welcome, The Bride
– Dr. Shock’s Famous Monsters find


[ 00:07:47 ] II. Feature Review – The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

Ratings and Recommendations
Dr. Shock: 8/10 ( Rent it )
Wolfman Josh: 6.5/10 ( Rent it / Buy the 6-film DVD collection )
The Bride: 5/10 (  Watch the original first / Buy the 6-film DVD collection )
Gillman Joel: 5.5/10 ( Rent it / Buy the 6-film DVD collection )

[ 00:37:29 ] III. Feature Review – The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)

Ratings and Recommendations
Dr. Shock: 5.5/10 ( Rent it )
Wolfman Josh: 6.5/10 ( Rent it / Buy the 6-film DVD collection )
Gillman Joel: 6.5/10 ( Rent it / Buy the 6-film DVD collection )
The Bride: 8.5/10 ( Buy the 6-film DVD collection )

[ 01:03:51 ] VI. Wrap up / Plugs 


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The Bride’s Links:
Liz covers all things science fiction at The Sci-Fi Podcast
Liz recently appeared on Geek Cast Live
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizReadsComics

Gillman Joel’s links:
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Joel used to cover forgotten flix at Forgotten Flix Remembers

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Dr. Shock’s links:
Dave writes daily movie reviews on DVDinfatuation.com
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Dave podcasts about horror movies on Horror Movie Podcast and Land of the Creeps
You can read all of Dave’s “Universal Horror” written reviews (HERE) at DVDinfatuation.com

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9 thoughts on “Ep 1.8: The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)

  1. I really enjoyed revisiting these movies. It was easily 20 years since I last saw them. Despite being such a young age, several scenes were stuck in my head. All of them are such an easy watch at 60mins.

    ‘The Mummy’s Hand’ is fantastic. By far my favourite Mummy movie… ever! The humour was spot on, loved the pace and Kharis looked great.

    The Mummy’s tomb is definitely a step down. The 10 minute recap is ridiculous! People may think we are exaggerating, but seriously, 10% of the movie is literally flashbacks. Still, Lots to appreciate here. As Dave said – The ending is really exciting, but that’s perhaps a given for a Universal horror.

  2. Great episode as always. Enjoyed hearing your comparisons between The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb. I’m more in line with The Bride’s, and to an extent, Gilman Joel’s, thoughts on both films. The humor in Hand really annoyed me, and the mummy action was lacking. I agree that blacking out the eyes was a cool effect (which apparently they did by hand every frame? wow!). Tomb was much more enjoyable to me, despite some of the more ridiculous writing I think Wolfman pointed out. I liked the gothic atmosphere, and the mummy seems to go into full slasher mode, making him more menacing than ever. Here are fuller reviews of each – I wrote reviews of most of these original Mummy films and am uploading them to Letterboxd under the name Andread. They probably seem harsh, but the Mummy is probably my least favorite of all the Universal monsters.

    The Mummy’s Hand
    Coming in at a sleek running time of barely over an hour, The Mummy’s Hand marks the first Universal appearance of the mummy we’re used to: the bandaged, silent, shuffling killer. But that doesn’t come until about 45 minutes in, and to get there we have to put up with annoying characters, inane comedic moments, and some hard-to-stomach racism. Stephen Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford) are amateur archaeologists who seek the lost tomb of Princess Ananka (the Ankh-es-en-amon figure from last film). For financial backing, they finagle money from gullible magician Solvani (Cecil Kellaway), who joins them on their expedition. Thinking Solvani is being scammed, his daughter, Marta (Peggy Moran) also joins, confronting Banning and Jensen, and seeming like one tough cookie, although she screams and faints when the mummy comes around. And when the mummy (now renamed Kharis, played by Tom Tyler) does appear, his scenes aren’t that exciting. In short, I was highly disappointed by this.

    The Mummy’s Hand isn’t a sequel to The Mummy. It’s more of a reboot, with the following films following a loose continuity. I remember liking these later films better, though I hadn’t remembered this one as much from my younger years. Despite being so short, a good chunk of runtime is eaten up by footage from the original Mummy to set up the story. All the Egyptian characters are either evil and manipulative (like the high priest controlling Kharis, Andoheb, played by George Zucco), or stupid and superstitious. Oh, and did I mention the “comic relief” sidekick, Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford)? He is one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in these classic movies. Many people rip on Una O’Connor for her over-the-top, nails-on-chalkboard screaming in Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. But I actually find her entertaining and pleasant compared to Babe Jensen. (I’m not saying it’s the actor’s fault—he worked with what he had, which was a lousy part.)

    The film ends in the very opposite of the original Mummy. Both end with the young couple getting together (at least this is implied in the 1932 film), but whereas The Mummy ends with the triumph of Isis, The Mummy’s Hand ends with the triumph of white men, defeating Kharis and plundering the wealth of Egyptian tombs. This comes without the slightest qualm, and we think of Banning and Jensen as Western heroes, while all the Egyptians are portrayed as either bloodthirsty fiends or superstitious cowards. Although these “curse” stories are to some extent exploitative, at least the original was a bit more ambiguous and morally complex, and the Westerners were more ineffectual than heroic, even though you still kinda root for them.

    I’m having a hard time finding anything nice to say about this film, which probably isn’t fair. The latter half is a decent monster flick, but it’s nothing really special. Obviously with it being so short, it won’t hurt to watch if you’re interested in the whole Mummy cycle, but I don’t think it will ruin your life if you never see this.
    Rating: 5/10

    The Mummy’s Tomb
    It’s hard not to think of The Mummy’s Hand and its sequels as quick cash-grabs and thinly coded wartime nationalistic fantasies of defeating foreign evil. They have short running times, don’t develop much in the way of character or story, and use footage and elements from previous films. However, The Mummy’s Tomb is an enjoyable B-movie monster flick if you don’t let all that get too much in your way.

    Set thirty years after The Mummy’s Hand (which would place it in the 1970s), it begins with an old Stephen Banning (reprised by Dick Foran) telling of his discovery of Kharis’ tomb and battle with him and the high priest to a parlor of guests, including his sister, Jane (Mary Gordon), his son, John (John Hubbard), and John’s love interest, Isobel (Elyse Knox). This essentially entails ten minutes of replaying footage from The Mummy’s Hand. The younger generation finds the story hard to swallow. Meanwhile, Andoheb (reprised by George Zucco) passes on his title of high priest to young Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey, known to his fans as the “Turkish Delight”), and charges Mehemet with carrying through on the vengeance against the defilers of Ananka’s tomb. Why he waited 30 years for this is never addressed.

    Mehemet takes Kharis (now played by Lon Chaney, Jr.) to the USA to hunt down the Bannings and Babe (reprised by Wallace Ford), transferring the setting from the “exotic” Egypt to a sleepy New England town. Once Kharis gets loose, the bodies start piling up quickly, and so do the horror clichés. However, Mehement gets distracted by Isobel’s beauty, derailing his plans for vengeance. This would be a theme in each of the Mummy sequels, making me wonder if they weren’t playing upon anxieties over miscegenation.

    The move incorporates music from The Wolf Man, as a number of other Universal monster flicks would do. Kharis is essentially a Michael Myers-esque slasher in this—emotionless, silent, stealthy, and seemingly unstoppable. The tone, pacing, and action are vastly superior to The Mummy’s Hand. The Mummy’s Tomb is campy, but it is serious camp, without the goofy comedic elements of The Mummy’s Hand, and much more exciting stalk-and-kill scenes. I can’t say there’s any noticeable difference between Chaney and Tyler’s performances, as Kharis doesn’t allow too much to show through the bandages. However, he does deserve kudos for sitting through the grueling, eight-hour preparations from Jack Pierce he underwent with this and the subsequent two Mummy films.

    In conclusion, this short little chunk of monster cheese is worth a watch.
    Rating: 6/10

    • Glad we could start our with your least favorite monster! No, honestly, I’m right there with you. I kind of had to pinch myself the other day when I realized that at some point we were going to be covering Dracula movies for a damn year.

      Great reviews. Thanks for posting them here and don’t feel shy about linking to your actual Letterboxd reviews as well. I want to give those a <3! Looking forward to the upcoming episode where you'll be sharing your thoughts on another mummy-themed movie with us. It's taking a lot longer to get there than I thought it would!

      Nice trivia about blacking out the eyes being done by hand on every every frame! That is incredible.

    • Andread, those are great and, I think, fair reviews of the films. I think that other than the iconic imagery of Jack Pierce’s makeup of Karloff from the opening of the original, The Mummy is a lot of monster fans’ least favorite. That said, like so many other films from this era, there is something charming and enjoyable about them (ok, some of them) and I have enjoyed covering them. Looking forward to having you on the show and the line “short little chunk of monster cheese” will be something I unashamedly steal and use when referring to many future cinematic viewings. 🙂

    • “Both end with the young couple getting together (at least this is implied in the 1932 film),”

      Yea, they almost all do that. Looking up the actors from this time is interesting because they often have been married and divorced multiple times. I guess that was a big goal back then. Even when the love story barely has anything to do with the plot there’s a couple getting together in the last shot.

      “but whereas The Mummy ends with the triumph of Isis, The Mummy’s Hand ends with the triumph of white men, defeating Kharis and plundering the wealth of Egyptian tombs”

      I like what you said here, AnDread. This story must have been tapping into the nation’s fears at the time. This film was released in 1940 so although WW2 was happening the US wasn’t involved yet. The threat was over seas.

      Then Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 and the war came to the US. Following the attack, (and as someone had mentioned in the podcast), the Mummy’s Tomb (1942) was released and the Mummy threat came to the US.

  3. The comedy in The Mummy’s Hand (1940) doesn’t really bother me. In fact I like it. AnDread mentioned above that Una O’Connor doesn’t bother him from Bride Of Frankenstein or The Invisible Man but the Mummy’s Hand comedy does. I do think James Whale was a master at blending comedy into his horror. The Old Dark House (1932) is another good example. There’s a lot of comedy in the Universal Horror films and quite a few comedy horror films like the Abbott and Costello series, but the comedic elements often spoil these films for viewers. I guess comedy in horror is just a divisive topic.

    The Mummy’s Hand feels very “Indian Jones” to me. anyone else feel that way?

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