The Mummy’s Hand (1942)

*. Bold. It’s not a long-delayed sequel to The Mummy, or a remake of that film, but it steals a bunch of footage from it and gives the characters different names and slightly different roles to play. Joe Dante calls it a “re-imagining.” I guess they thought nobody would notice the borrowing-without-continuity. And perhaps no one did.
*. I found the plot of The Mummy awkward and hard to follow in places, but it stands as a model of clarity compared to the chaos we get here. Kharis (the Mummy) has some plan to bring the Princess Ananka back to life with a concoction of tana leaves but before he can do so he is put to death. There is, however, a cult that keeps him alive with low doses of tana. I think the idea is that he’s supposed to guard the princess’s tomb. When some archaeologists (and a comedian with a daughter) find the tomb an Egyptian fellow named Andoheb (George Zucco) revives Kharis. Kharis doesn’t seem much interested in Ananka, but will kill for tana leaves. Meanwhile, Andoheb wants to make himself immortal along with the comedian’s daughter, who he seems to have fallen in love with at some point.
*. I feel awful just having typed all that out. It’s actually a lot less interesting than it sounds, and I hope it doesn’t sound that interesting. It’s an altogether lighter affair than the 1932 film, with the hero even having a comic sidekick named Babe. Perhaps they figured that the Mummy just wasn’t very scary and decided to go in another direction.
*. At least we do get the classic monster in action this time out. You get to see him in all his stiff, shambling, bandaged glory as he shuffles about the camp looking for his next tana hit. He does, however, take a while before he first appears, and this is a short film. That we have to begin with such a prolonged passage of exposition, which doesn’t help explain much anyway, is a serious flaw.
*. As you may recall from my notes on The Mummy, I’m not a big fan of that film. And The Mummy’s Hand marks a considerable drop off. One wonders how such a creature became iconic given these uninspired beginnings. Perhaps it was just the lure of the exotic. In any event, it was going to be a while before the Mummy became an interesting character again. Universal, however, still had a few movies left with this bag of bones.

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