Thirty years after the events of The Mummy’s Hand, Steve Banning relates his Egyptian adventures to his family over tea and coffee one genial afternoon. The story of his fight against Andoheb and Kharis, the mummy, is a little far-fetched for his son and other relatives to believe, but if his wife, Marta (whom you’ll remember from the last movie), were still living, she would validate his story as truth.
What the old archeologist doesn’t know is that Andoheb and the mummy both survived. Even as Steve is telling his tale, Andoheb is tasking the young Mehemet Bey with the responsibility of using the mummy in an act of revenge on Banning and his family and friends for the desecration of Ananka’s tomb. Bey smuggles Kharis, and the tana leaves, into the United States. Once there, he acquires a job as a caretaker at a cemetery in Banning’s hometown.
Boiling up the tana leaves, Bey sends the mummy forth where he kills an unsuspecting Steve Banning. With the police baffled, Steve’s sister is next murdered. Steve’s old sidekick, Babe Hanson (whom you’ll remember from the last film) arrives in town. With the evidence of the mold on the throats of the victims, Babe is certain it was the mummy who killed them. Of course, being the voice of reason and experience, no one believes the old coot. After Babe is killed, Steve’s son, John, sets about to solve the mystery.
This would not be a Mummy movie if it didn’t have a maligned love story somewhere in the plot threads. Bey becomes infatuated with John Banning’s girlfriend, Isobel, and wants to make her his wife in order to continue the bloodline of the High Priests of Karnak.
In the realm of B-movies there is no such thing as convoluted. The Mummy’s Tomb begins to test that theory, which will permeate throughout the rest of these Mummy movies. For example: Andoheb was filled so full of hot lead in the last entry he could have used any number of anatomical appendages as a pencil. Yet, he survived. ‘Tis but a flesh wound, I suppose.
For all the lack of mummy action in the previous movie, The Mummy’s Tomb doubles down. This movie also marks the first appearance of Lon Chaney, Jr., as the mummy. He would play the titular monster for the remainder of the series. Chaney, Jr., does a good job as the creature and his performance– subdued, basically– is a change of pace from that of Larry Talbot or Alucard. With only body language and grunts and groans he gives the best performance of the entire cast.
I don’t know why it took Hollywood so long to adopt a numbers system for sequels. I admit, when it comes to the Invisible movies and now the Mummy ones, the later installments are more difficult to keep in order from memory. For me it’s because the movies do not differentiate themselves enough from each other. With the Invisible installments, each was a little (sometimes a lot) different than the previous one; that helped to tell them apart. Not so here: from The Mummy’s Tomb onward, it begins to feel like the same movie over and over.