“The moon rides high in the sky again, Kharis; there’s death in the night air. Your work begins.”
I don’t know how it happened, but this is somehow worse than The Mummy’s Hand (1940).
You want to know what happens in this movie’s poor, bare-bones excuse for a plot? You really want to know? Fine. I’ll tell you.
It’s been 30 years since the events of The Mummy’s Hand. Steve Banning (played by Dick Foran in age makeup that actually isn’t bad) is an old man living in Massachusetts, his wife Marta has died of couldn’t-be-bothered-itis, and Babe (played by Wallace Ford in more nicely added wrinkles) is spending his golden years in New York.
Meanwhile, the dying Andoheb (the villain from the last film, played by George Zucco) passes on his sacred duty to guard the tomb of Princess Anaka to his young follower Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey).
Anaka was brought to the United States years ago. For revenge, Bey intends to kill the remaining members of Steve’s archeologist party (him and Babe) and his surviving relatives (his son John, played by John Hubbard, and his sister Jane, played by Mary Gordon).
The mummy Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr. in a role unworthy of his talents), with a sluggish pace and one leg dragging behind him, is hardly the creature you want brought to life to pick off your enemies. If any of the characters had any sense, they would run away from the beast. But no. They back themselves into a door or a back alley instead of easily staying out of Kharis’s reach.
Kharis reminded me of a zombie, but the only reasons slow-moving zombies are scary at all is because A. They can turn you into one and B. There are about ten million of them. They have strength in what appears to be insurmountable numbers.
Here we have one mummy that shows very limited signs of intelligence and no indications of long range attacks. So unless you’re disabled or just a moron, you should have no problem keeping his old, dirty hands off your neck.
The characters that aren’t killed off stupidly are dull, underdeveloped, and busy being annoyingly passive throughout most of the film.
John, despite being told of the events of Hand since he was a boy, doesn’t believe in the mummy “nonsense” until the last third of the movie. Why? Because Kharis is easily dealt with once the characters set their minds to it. Mindless, pointless padding – where our characters plod along without much purpose or points of interest – is therefore introduced to stave off the eventual climax.
This is all after the film even bothers to begin the story at all. Tomb spends a whopping 12 minutes (a big deal in a 60 minute movie) recapping (through the use of fancy clips) what happened in Hand and then another three minutes setting up Bey and the main plot. The first kill, i.e. the first real piece of action, doesn’t happen until almost halfway through the movie.
I don’t think anyone put much effort into The Mummy’s Tomb, which doesn’t even make sense as a title, by the way. Everything from the by-the-numbers scares to the stock characters to the moody-but-standard dark cinematography is done with minimal care and effort. I don’t know how this mummy series could get worse than this forgettable outing.