While both Dracula and Frankenstein would get sequels in short order, it took eight years for Universal to produce a sequel to their 1932 hit, “The Mummy”. Part of this was due to the film industry cracking down on horror films and instituting a decency code. By the 1940s, horror films became Saturday matinee fare, aimed at kids as much as adults.
The Mummy’s Hand does not feature Boris Karloff and, in fact, features an all-new mummy named Kharis, played by early Western star, Tom Tyler. It opens by re-using footage from the original with just a few scenes re-shot showing Kharis stealing tana leaves replacing the scene where Karloff as Imhotep steals the scroll of Thoth.
We are introduced to horror vet George Zucco as Andoheb, high Priest of Karnak and guardian of the secret tomb of Princess Ananka. Andoheb is able to bring Kharis to life and control by brewing a special tea made from the tana leaves.
Cut to Dick Foran as “Steve Banning”, a down on his luck archeologist and his partner Babe Jensen. Banning discovers the location of Ananka’s tomb and puts together an expedition to uncover it, funded by American magician The Great Solvini and his daughter, Marta. Soon, Andoheb sets Kharis on their trail to kill them after they discover Ananka’s tomb. Meanwhile Andoheb plans to inject himself, and Marta with the Tana leaf fluid in order to confer immortality upon them.
The image we have of the mummy shambling forth and killing anyone in his path comes from The Mummy’s Hand and the other sequels. In all of the films the monster seemingly meets his demise at the end, only to miraculously return in the next film. But, you wouldn’t be a good monster if you really died, right?
Foran is the usual handsome hero and Wallace Ford as Babe Jenson provides the usual sidekick comic relief so common in these movies. Jack Pierce once again created the makeup and while it wasn’t as elaborate as the original it was still quite terrifying. While The Mummy’s Hand is no classic and director Christy Cabanne was definitely no Karl Freund…but it’s still a fun movie and a quick watch at just over 60 minutes.
The Mummy’s Hand, and the later three sequels would all be “B” movies, re-using much stock footage. There isn’t really much of a plot here other than to give Zucco a change to let the Mummy wild on a murderous rampage. The 1940s Universal Horror films all followed a basic formula but they were fairly cheap to produce and made money for the studio which explains why so many horror films were made in the 1940s. It was great escapist entertainment, particularly against the backdrop of the real horror of World War II.