Plot: What’s it about?
A team of American archaeologists have traveled to the barren sands of Egypt, in search of the legendary tomb of Ananka. Among the team is Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and his partner Jenson (Wallace Ford), who might be out of work most of the time, but they’ve kept their sense of humor, without a doubt. The two somehow manage to uncover some evidence that the tomb does exist, which means some funds are needed to continue, but the cash is about to become plentiful, thanks to an outside source. The money comes from The Great Solvani (Cecil Kellaway), a strange magician and his gorgeous daughter, Marta (Peggy Moran). So armed with their extensive funding, the team sets out into the deserts, but find themselves under attack, from an evil high priest (Eduardo Ciannelli) and Kharis (Tom Tyler), the living mummy who protects Ananka’s tomb.
The first film in this Mummy themed double feature is The Mummy’s Hand, which has the usual horror elements as expected, but also packs a keen sense of humor. This is also not a direct sequel to The Mummy, though of course, some themes remain and what not. In any event, The Mummy’s Hand is a lot of fun to watch and if you’re a fan of the Universal classic horror pictures, then this a must see title, to be sure. The blend of comedy and horror makes The Mummy’s Hand stand out from most of Universal’s horror based efforts, but this still retains the usual elements, so don’t be concerned in that respect. There’s some good scares, plenty of suspense, and of course, atmosphere to burn, just as expected from a Universal horror flick from this time. Dick Foran (Horror Island) and Wallace Ford (Spellbound) would return their roles in this film’s sequel, The Mummy’s Tomb, which happens to the second half of this double feature. In the end, this is a worthwhile release for anyone interested, especially with two flicks on one disc.
After the events in The Mummy’s Hand, we’re thrown into the future and of course, Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.) has some business to attend to, namely revenge. A maniacal high priest named Mehemet (Turhan Bey) has brought Kharis to the United States, where the team of archaeologists that stormed his lover’s tomb can be found. It seems that time has passed, but Kharis still holds a grudge and plans to exact some payback, in serious fashion. As Kharis stalks and kills the various team members one by one, Mehemet begins to fall in love with Isobel (Elyse Knox), the daughter of team leader Steve Banning (Dick Foran). Mehemet tries to surmise a way to force Kharis to kidnap Isobel, in order to make her his high priestess, but those efforts are in vain. Can these two be stopped before total disaster strikes, or is this the chance Kharis has been waiting for, the time when he can settle the score once and for all?
As I mentioned above, this is a sequel to The Mummy’s Hand and as such, it makes a perfect choice for this double dose of Kharis. I do like this movie somewhat, but it fails to live up the prior picture, in almost all respects. As usual with sequels, this one tries to tread the line between old and new, with not so impressive results. It is nice to see Dick Foran and Wallace Ford reprise their roles, as well as the presence of Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Mummy’s Curse, House of Dracula), but those elements simply aren’t enough to keep this one above water. I think those who love this series and the Universal classic horror movies will find some parts to like, but it doesn’t rank with the better installments. It uses too much recycled footage and in the end, just doesn’t deliver the usual chills these movies often provide. But fans of Universal horror should give it a look and since it is offered with the terrific The Mummy’s Hand, that makes the decision even simpler.
Video: How does it look?
The Mummy’s Hand is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. The visual treatment here is solid, but has more problems than most of these Universal classic horror releases, to be sure. The print used shows a lot of grain, marks, and debris, which isn’t unusual for a film of this age, but since Universal has been so consistent with these flicks, I suppose I expected more. The contrast is strong however, with stable black levels and no visible detail loss. I still rank this above average, given the age and condition of the materials, but I wish the same care were taken with this title, as was shown to some of the others.
The Mummy’s Tomb is also presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. This transfer looks a little better than The Mummy’s Hand, but again, isn’t as impressive as some of Universal’s other work in the series. The print shows less defects, but grain and debris are still seen, though I suppose again, that’s to be expected from a film of this age. I saw no errors with the contrast, as detail stays high throughout and black levels are dead on, without fail. This is a solid visual presentation, but once again, I wish Universal could have pulled out all the stops, like they’ve done with some of their other classic horror titles.
Audio: How does it sound?
These are mono tracks from the 1940s and that’s obvious, but the results turn out better than expected, I think. The audio seems cleaner than you might think, given the age of the materials, with minimal age related defects to report. I heard no hiss and the basics seem in fine order, no real complaints to lodge here. Of course, the dynamics don’t stack up against more modern options, but under the circumstances, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed here. The sound effects are as effective as mono allows, while vocals are always on the mark also. Both films also feature Spanish language options, as well as English and French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You’ll find production notes, talent files, and theatrical trailers for both films.