31 Weeks to Halloween: The Mummy's Tomb (1942)
Spawned from the depths of doom comes the most fearful monster of the ages
to strike with paralyzing terror the despoilers of ancient tombs!
Saturdays have become the best day of the week for me, because as part of our 31 Weeks to Halloween countdown, watching all of these Universal Monster movies has been bringing back so much nostalgia and appreciation for the films we've seen before, and a passion for the ones we haven't. This week's film is a new one for me: The Mummy' Tomb from 1942 directed by Harold Young. This film is the first of three sequels to the 1940 film The Mummy's Hand which, if you read our review, was an absolute spectacular film with a fantastic story and production. But for this movie, the studio passed on using Tom Tyler as Kharis - The Mummy - and instead used a name you should all be familiar with: Lon Chaney Jr., who is probably best known as Larry Talbot in The Wolfman just a year prior! Chaney kicked a ton of ass as The Wolf Man, and he kicked just as much ass as Kharis in this film; the make-up artists managed to do a pretty sick job recreating the look from The Mummy's Hand but using Chaney this time, and if you didn't watch the films back-to-back right away, you probably wouldn't even realize it's two different actors under the wraps! Chaney gives an absolutely thrilling performance as The Mummy with no shortage of on-screen time, action scenes and a pretty juicy fight scene and ending. If you're a fan of The Mummy's Hand film, this one is going to be right up your ally!
The Mummy's Tomb starts off thirty years after the events of The Mummy's Hand, with Steve Banning telling the events of the previous film to his family and friends, including his breaking of the seal to the tomb and the run-in with Kharis. There's some flashback scenes from the original film to recount exactly what happened, but it ultimately ends with him telling them about the destruction of Kharis. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the reigns of Kharis' caretaker are handed over to new blood: Mehemet Bey. Bey is responsible for the maintenance of the tana leaves and is tasked with ensuring that the people responsible for the events in the previous film (desecrating Ananka's tomb) - as well as their descendants - are killed. That means both Steve and Babe from The Mummy's Hand, as well as Steve's sister and son, are on Bey and Kharis' hit-list. What follows in the film is the telling of Bey and Kharis' travel to Mapleton, Massachusetts to seek and destroy the expedition party, and it involves some unsolved murders, a mob, a creepy tomb, a kidnapping, and a pretty wicked conclusion! Will Kharis dish out justice for the desecration of Ananka's tomb, or will mob justice prevail and save the lives of the expedition party? Find out in... THE MUMMY'S TOMB!
This film - like its predecessor - is very short, running at just over an hour - but in that time, they manage to tell a fucking awesome continuation to The Mummy's Hand. Like I said before, if you liked that movie, this movie is going to be a welcomed watch for you; the story is about Kharis' revenge on the expedition party, and the sins of the father justifies punishment for Steve's son and his soon-to-be wife Isobel (played by the stunning Elyse Knox). It's pretty funny seeing The Mummy out of the tombs of Egypt and into the streets of Massachusetts. Seeing him roam around, leaving behind his wrapping on bushes, is so out of place it's almost comical. But Chaney's movements, facial expressions and actions are just totally awesome and totally in line with what Tom Tyler did in the previous film - it really does feel like a great follow up movie. I love the fact that they had Kharis going after Steve and Babe as punishment for what they did to the tomb, but honestly wasn't expecting Bey and Kharis to go after the sibling and son of Steve too. But honestly, it makes for a better story since it portrays the two are more diabolical than just revengeful. I love the creepy, evil element to The Mummy, and this film definitely does an excellent job at keeping that going. Kharis definitely feels like a mindless zombie in cloth sometimes - his movements slow reaction time feeling like there's nothing upstairs - but I guess he is a couple thousand years old, right?! And he is technically undead, he just doesn't eat people!
One of the highlights to revisiting all of these Universal Monster movies is enjoying all of the amazing mob justice scenes that so many of these movies have. It feels like all of the townsfolk are constantly picking up pitchforks and torches and are ready to kill, torture, and set ablaze the monster in all of these movies. These people always seem to be recklessly setting shit on fire and causing damage and it's seriously become a highlight for me seeing the mobs chase down the monster; and The Mummy's Tomb delivers a pretty great mob justice scene, if that's your thing too! But that aside, the film has a well written ending that (seemingly) puts the story of Kharis to end, but the final fifteen minutes or so of the film are gold! You get to see how weird Bey is and plenty of Kharis on-screen time, and the kidnapping of Isobel is pretty chaotic and comical. In all honesty I'm not the biggest fan of the classic 1932 Mummy film, but these two sequels kick a ton of ass and pair so well together. You don't necessarily have to watch The Mummy's Hand to appreciate this film, but I'd highly recommend you do so you can fully appreciate the characters of both films and the revenge that Kharis and Bey are seeking on the Banning expedition party. It's pretty awesome seeing Dick Foran and Wallace Ford reprise their roles of Steve and Babe for another film, but John Hubbard as Dr. John Banning is a totally welcomed and enjoyable character. Him and Isobel make a great pair in the film and have a special presence in the movie. I think this film is one of the better sequels we've seen in the countdown so far, so I cannot recommend it enough - check this one out!!!