Dick Foran - Steve Banning
Peggy Moran - Marta Solvani
Wallace Ford - Babe Jenson
Eduardo Ciannelli - The High Priest
George Zucco - Professor Andoheb
Tom Tyler - Kharis, the Mummy
Christy Cabanne - Director
Ben Pivar - Producer
Griffin Jay - Screenwriter
Elwood Bredell - Cinematographer
Jack P. Pierce - Makeup
Hans J. Salter - Film Score
Another cycle of horror films dawned in the early 1940s. Unlike the often slowly-paced movies of the previous decade, the new crop consisted of thrillers, emphasizing action and stalking, mute or brainless monstrosities rather than such quietly terrifying fiends as Ardath Bey. Frankenstein's Monster and Count Dracula were no longer scaring adult audiences but were prompting hordes of younger viewers to devour box upon box of popcorn. It was an era of blaring musical scores, chases and monsters carrying off girls in white gowns. in just such an atmosphere, Prince Kharis lumbered from his dank Egyptian sarcophagus to haunt the sound stages of Universal Pictures.
Unlike Im-ho-tep, Kharis was merely a bandaged, shambling monster, never once sheding his moldy wrappings or uttering a single word (having no tongue). He was Universal's latest addition to the studio's pantheon of horrors dominated by Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), and The Wolf Man (1941). It was the Kharis image that materialized in people's imaginations whenever the "Mummy" was mentioned during the Forties, an image which persists to this day. The Kharis films are not classics like the original Mummy (1932) but provided more than enough entertainment considering their "B" movie budgets.
Kharis first appeared in a 1940 Universal film entitled The Mummy's Hand, directed by Christy Cabanne. He was portrayed in this film by Tom Tyler, an actor primaraly known for his performances in Westerns and serials. Selected because of his resemblance to Boris Karloff, Tyler could somewhat match the shots from The Mummy which would be incorporated into The Mummy's Hand. Make-up artist Jack Pierce designed a special rubber mask which sufficed in the long shots. In order to save time and money, Pierce only made up Tyler's face once so that all the close-ups could be photographed in a single day.
The Mummy's Hand brings an expedition consisting of Steve Banning (played by another Western star, Dick Foran), his partner Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford), a pretty young lady named Marta (Peggy Moran) and her father, a stage magician called Solvani (Cecil Kellaway) in search of an Egyptian princess named Ananka. Throughout the centuries a fanatical group called the High Priests of Karnak have kept alive the Mummy Kharis to protect the tomb of Princess Ananka against violators. In a secret tomb the ancient high priest (played by Eduardo Cianelli) reveals the story of Kharis to his disciple and successor Andoheb (George Zucco).
There is, unfortunately, an overabundance of comic relief footage in The Mummy's Hand, particularly scenes involving Solvani and Babe Jenson. But once the actual horror of the story begins the film is rather satisfying. Again recalling the rumored curse of King Tutankhamen, the motion picture further establishes the basic theme of virtually all mummy films to follow--that all who desecrate the tombs of the Egyptian dead must perish. Hammer Films of London reopened the musty crypt of Kharis in 1959 with the production of The Mummy starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, a remake of virtually all the Universal mummy films including the original starring Karloff.
--DONALD F. GLUT, from
Classic Movie Monsters, 1978
A selection of Mummy's Hand related films.
Find Mummy's Hand on eBay.com
A selection of Mummy's Hand in books.
A History of Horror
Any comments, additions or suggestions should be adressed to:
History of Horror / Eric B. Olsen / firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Web Sites:
The Film Noir 'net Hard Bop Homepage
The War Film Web Author Eric B. Olsen