One night in the deserts of Egypt, a man named Andoheb visits the Hill of the Seven Jackals to inherit the title High Priest of Karnak. His responsibility is to keep the mummy, Kharis, alive. A brew of three tana leaves keeps the mummy alive, but sedated; nine leaves gives him enough life to walk. The mummy’s walking usually leads to a lot of deaths.
In life, Kharis was in a forbidden love affair with Princess Ananka. She died, Kharis stole the tana leaves to resurrect her, got caught performing the ceremony and was buried alive as punishment. His mummy is kept alive to guard Ananka’s tomb. (If a lot of this sounds familiar, that is because it rips off the original film, The Mummy, in the story department; Karloff can be seen in a flashback sequence even though it’s meant to be a completely different person.)
In the modern day (of 1940), archeologists Steve Banning and Babe Jenson have come up bust in Egypt. While shopping in a local bazaar, Steve finds a pottery piece whose hieroglyphics point to the way to the lost burial site of Princess Ananka. At the Cairo Museum, Dr. Petrie agrees with him, but his colleague, Andoheb, tells them the vase is worthless– but he would, wouldn’t he.
Steve, Babe and Petrie ignore Andoheb. They plan to mount an expedition to find the tomb. The only thing holding them back is a lack of money. As the fates would have it, Steve and Babe meet Solvani, an American magician, in a local bar. Thinking he’s rich and famous, the two archeologists convince Solvani to fund their expedition with an investment of $2,000 (it was the ‘40s).
Solvani’s problem is that the money was all he had to get him and his daughter, Marta, back to the United States. When Marta learns of the deal, she hits the roof as Andoheb, who knows of the deal, has already warned her of scam artists posing as archeologists fleecing people for fake expeditions. She confronts Steve and Babe, who have already spent the money on supplies, guides, and workers for the dig. The only thing left for her to do is go along with them to make sure her and her father aren’t cheated (it was not only the ’40s, but a movie also).
If that seems like a lot of movie before we get to a mummy, you’d be fairly correct. The Mummy’s Hand, which is not a direct sequel, feels like it was initially written to be something else, an action/adventure/comedy, until the studio said they wanted a mummy movie (after the first came out eight years previous) and decided to slap a mummy into it. I don’t know if that’s what happened, it just has that vibe.
With a runtime of sixty-seven minutes, it feels like very little mummy for your buck and a lot of other stuff instead. But somehow it mostly works and the mummy stalking is pretty good. The Mummy’s Hand is not the greatest by any stretch of the imagination, but it has a casual charm.