Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Mummy's Hand (1940)

The Mummy's Hand (1940) was produced by Ben Pivar for Universal Studios. Although it is sometimes claimed by fans as a sequel or follow-up to the 1932 film The Mummy (1932), it does not continue the 1932 film's storyline, or feature any of the characters from the original film.  It was the first of a series of four films all featuring the mummy Kharis, played By Tom Tyler, who is remembered for his roles in low-budget Westerns during the silent and sound eras, and for his role as Captain Marvel in the serial film The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). The film was directed by Christy Cabanne who is remembered as one of the most prolific directors in the history of American film, having directed 166 films from 1912 to 1948. The screen play was written by Griffin Jay and Maxwell Shane. Shane later became a writer-producer for the Boris Karloff anthology television series Thriller.

The cast was made up of a who’s who of b-western actors, including Dick Foran known for his performances in western musicals and for playing supporting roles in dramatic pictures; Peggy Moran who starred in a number of B movies like Slightly Tempted (1940), Treat 'Em Rough (1942) and King of the Cowboys (1943); Wallace Ford, a former Vaudeville actor who also appeared several B- westerns and  Eduardo Ciannelli who plays The High Priest is best known for playing gangsters and criminals.

Jack P. Pierce, known for creating most of the Universal classic monsters painstaking  glued strips of cotton on Tom Tyler's face, to create deep wrinkles. But in long shots, Tyler wore a rubber mask to help save time. To make the mummy appear more frightening, Tom Tyler's eyes (and the inside of his mouth) were blacked out frame-by-frame in almost all close-ups during post production. The mummy's stumbling gait was allegedly due to Tom Tyler’s acute arthritis.

The excavation scenes were shot on the Universal back-lot in a section of the natural hills known as "Gausman's Gulch," which was named after Russell A. Gausman who was the set decorator for  the film and many other  Universal horror films. The musical score will sound familiar to horror fans since it was lifted from Hans J. Salter's score for Son of Frankenstein (1939).

The Mummy's Hand (1940) was released September 20, 1940 with a runtime of 67 minutes. Despite its low budget of $80,000 The Mummy's Hand (1940) did pack quite a punch among the mummy fans. Now a classic it is considered one of the better mummy films released by Universal during the studio’s classic horror period.

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