The Mummy's Tomb (1942)

OCTOBER 7, 2009


Apparently in order to make up for Mummy's Hand having nothing to do with the first Mummy, the filmmakers behind The Mummy's Tomb (which would have made a better title for the last film, since this one takes place entirely in common locales) make sure we know we are watching a related story, by having the first 12-13 minutes of the film devoted to one of the survivors of the first one (Banning) telling the story in painfully hilarious detail. Assuming we are seeing a visual depiction of what he is saying, Banning tells his guests about each moment of his fight with the Mummy, as well as what happened in scenes that he wasn't present for.

And the movie is only 61 minutes total (runtime includes a reminder to buy war bonds, which I keep putting off), so with flashbacks, credits, and 70 year old advertisements, we're only talking about maybe 45 minutes of movie. Luckily, those 45 aren't all that bad. You can't accuse Universal of rehashing the previous Mummy movie - this one takes place in modern times and the climax occurs at a nice suburban house, with a picket fence and everything. The villain is pretty much the same guy as the last one (he even gets his "rules of controlling a Mummy" speech from an old guy in a cave, again), but everything else feels fresh.

Well, at least, fresh for a Mummy movie. The scene where the Mummy (Lon Chaney Jr this time, making him the 3rd actor to play the Mummy in this, the 3rd film. Sort of the Batman or lead singer of Further Seems Forever of his day) kidnaps the heroine resembles an outtake from any Dracula film, and the fiery climax (someone actually shouts "Stop him with fire!" Yeah, no shit, like they ever use anything else at the end of these movies?*) feels an awful lot like a Frankenstein movie, with the big dope lumbering about, a crowd of angry torch-wielders, and two guys in fedoras shooting at him.

Wait, that last one's not really a tradition. As this movie came out in the 40s, there's a touch of gangster-movie-ism to enjoy here, with a lot of fedora-ed guys saying "Yyeaah, seee!" and hustling about in every other scene. I was also reminded of Nightmare on Elm St 4, since the film is largely about the monster killing everyone that he missed in the last movie (poor Babe!) and then leaving it to new people we don't really care about yet to take him on. And like with Hand, it's easy to see where Sommers got some of his influences from; this movie, shot only 2 years later, takes place about 30 years after the last one, much as his Mummy Returns inexplicably launched forward 10 years (and paved the way for Rachel Weisz not returning for the 3rd film, as she was offended at playing a character that would have been like 20 years older than she is in real life).

And the movie has an epilogue! It's probably the only time in history where a 30 second epilogue can be considered draggy, but since I don't really give a shit about this film's heroes (the son of the last one's hero - sorry I suck at names), I REALLY don't care that their wedding went off without a hitch and that they are doing quite well in their careers. I DO care about the "living bologna" that is mentioned in one of the smaller headlines of the full-screen newspaper that tells us about the wedding (slow news day I guess), but sadly it is not mentioned in the remaining 12 seconds, nor do the sequels focus on it from what I understand. Bummer.

What say you?

*One of the VS. films, I forget which, ended with a flood. That's the complete opposite of fire! Pretty creative.

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  1. The flood ended Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman, drowning both characters. Don't worry, they got better.

  2. If you continue through this series, you really should take a look at Hammer's version of The Mummy afterwards. It's pretty much a remake of The Mummy's Tomb, combined with a little bit of The Mummy's Hand backstory, except Christopher Lee is much more effective as the Mummy and the movie is much lusher and more atmospheric.

  3. It's interesting they credited Lon Chaney Jr as Lon Chaney. That's like crediting Frank Sinatra Jr as Frank Sinatra. No, it's worse.

    I'll see the Mummy movies next. George Zucco was good in Dr. Renault's Secret, which came out the same year.


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