The Mummy's Tomb

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The Mummy's Tomb
Directed by Harold Young
Screenplay by
  • Griffin Jay
  • Henry Sucher [1]
Story byNeil P. Varnick [1]
Cinematography George Robinson [1]
Edited by Milton Carruth [1]
Distributed byUniversal Pictures Company
Release date
  • 23 October 1942 (1942-10-23)
Running time
60 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States [1]
LanguageEnglish [2]

The Mummy's Tomb is a 1942 American horror film directed by Harold Young and starring Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis the mummy. Taking place 30 years after the events of The Mummy's Hand , where Andoheb (George Zucco) has survived and plans revenge on Stephen Banning (Dick Foran) and his entire family in Mapleton, Massachusetts. With the help of the high priest Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey), Andoheb and the mummy Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) Bey takes up a job as a caretaker of a graveyard. At the first full moon, the mummy is fed tanna leaves which allow him to break into the Banning residence and kill the now elderly Stephen. Banning's son then seeks assistance from Babe Hanson (Wallace Ford), one of the members of the original Banning expedition to Egypt to stop Andoheb and Kharis.


Lon Chaney Jr. had renewed his contract with Universal Pictures in 1942 and had his first role as the mummy Kharis in The Mummy's Tomb, a role he would reprise in the film's sequels The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse . The film was shot between June 1 through mid-June 1942, not including footage taken from the previous film in the series The Mummy's Hand as well as Frankenstein .


Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis Detail, from- MummysTomb (cropped).jpg
Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis

Thirty years after discovering the tomb of Princess Ananka following a showdown with the living mummy of Ananka’s former lover Kharis, as well as his High Priest guardian Andoheb, Massachusetts archaeologist Steve Banning recounts the events to his family and evening guests in his home. As he concludes his narrative of the successful destruction of the creature, the scene switches back to the tombs of Egypt. Surviving their supposed demise, Andoheb explains the legend of Kharis to his follower, Mehemet Bey. After passing on the instructions for the use of the tana leaves, and assigning the task of terminating the remaining members of the Banning expedition and their descendants, Andoheb expires. Bey and Kharis leave Egypt for the journey to the United States.

Bey takes the caretaker's job at the Mapleton cemetery, sets up shop, and administers the tana brew to Kharis. The monster sets out to avenge the desecration of Ananka's tomb. His first victim is Banning himself, whom the creature kills as the aging archaeologist prepares for bed. As the sheriff and coroner can't come up with a lead to the killer, newspapermen converge on Mapleton to learn more about the story. Babe Hanson arrives on the scene after learning of his friend's death. When Jane Banning, Steve's sister, is killed, Hanson is convinced it is the work of a mummy. Meeting with the sheriff and coroner, Hanson is unable to convince them of the identity of the culprit. He tells his story to a newspaperman at the local bar, but, after a chase and struggle, is himself dispatched by Kharis almost immediately afterwards. Dr. John Banning, the son of Stephen Banning, enlists the help of Professor Norman to solve the puzzle of the "grayish mark" found on the victims' throats. Norman's test results prove that Hanson was right: the substance was indeed mold from a mummy.

Meanwhile, Bey has plans of his own. Knowing that Banning and his girlfriend, Isobel Evans are planning to marry, he sets out to disrupt their nuptials. Bey himself has become smitten with Isobel, and sends Kharis on a mission to bring her to him. Kharis initially balks, but finally adheres to Bey's command. In the dark of the night, the monster stealthily enters the Evans's home and abducts the fainting girl to the cemetery caretaker's hut. Bey unveils his plan to the reluctant Isobel, that she is to become his bride, as a "High Priest of Karnak", and bear him an heir to the royal line. Banning and the rest of the townspeople have become convinced that their recent Egyptian immigrant may be involved in the crimes. Arriving in force, they confront Bey outside the hut. Kharis slips away with Isobel unbeknownst to the horde, and Bey attempts to shoot Banning, but is himself gunned down by the sheriff. The creature is observed heading toward the Banning estate, and the group begins pursuit, many bearing torches. Inside the home, Banning has a fight with Kharis and holds him at bay with a torch while he rescues Isobel from the mummy's grasp, but inadvertently sets fire to some curtains. With the aid of the sheriff and coroner, John and Isobel escape via a trellis as Kharis pursues them out onto the upstairs balcony. The townspeople keep the mummy from similarly escaping by hurling additional torches at him, and the monster perishes in the flames of the thoroughly consumed house. Banning and Isobel wed in short order, as he has received his draft notice and is due to report for his tour of duty in World War II.


Cast adapted from the book Universal Horrors: [1]


The Mummy's Tomb director was a former film editor who worked in England in the 1930s working with people like Alexander Korda films like The Scarlet Pimpernel . [3] His subsequent work in Hollywood as a director predominantly consisted of b-films including The Mummy's Tomb. [3] The onscreen credits and contemporary reviews list George Robinson as the director of photography, early Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Harry Neuman. [2] Lon Chaney Jr. renewed his contract with Universal Pictures in February 1942 and made his first appearance as the Mummy in The Mummy's Tomb, a role he would reprise in two Universal films: The Mummy's Curse and The Mummy's Ghost . [1] [2] Recent naturalized United States citizen Wallace Ford reprised his role as Babe Hanson.

Production on the film began on June 1 and ended in mid-June 1942. [2] Parts of the film use elements from previous Universal Pictures. [3] This includes footage from The Mummy's Hand , Frankenstein , Bride of Frankenstein and The Ghost of Frankenstein with the film's music score containing portions of music written for The Invisible Woman . [3] [4] It also reuses the Shelby House on Universal's backlot originally for the film Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927) for the Banning residence. [3] [4]


The Mummy's Tomb was distributed by the Universal Pictures Company and released on October 23, 1942. [1] [2] The film was a double feature with Night Monster . [4]


From contemporary reviews, Harrison's Reports stated that "much happens, but nothing that will surprise the horror fans", [5] while Theodore Strauss of The New York Times proclaimed "no wonder the Mummy lasted for 3,000 years. In that tandem fashion, he may go on for another 3,0000 - heaven forbid!" [5]

From retrospective reviews, the authors of the book Universal Horrors stated that The Mummy's Tomb was a weaker film for Chaney, noting that "the care and talent that was lavished upon The Wolf Man is sorely lacking in The Mummy's Tomb" and that the film "gets by as entertainment for hardcore Universal enthusiasts by its cozy familiarity alone", concluding that The Mummy's Hand was superior proclaiming that the film is "so perfunctory, so small scale in ambition and execution, it seemed destined for the bottom-of-the-bill slot". [1] [3] [4] Hans J. Wollstein of AllMovie awarded the film two stars out of five, stating that the film "is neither the best nor the worst in Universal's second wave of horror films", finding that "when all is said and done there is only so much that a monster swathed in bandages can do", concluding that the film "is fairly entertaining fare and it is fun to see the angry villagers from the original Frankenstein back in action via stock footage". [6]

Actor Turhan Bey admitted that he had not seen The Mummy's Tomb; he would later state it among his favorite screen roles: "I guess it's my favorite because it was a part closest to my own nationality - it was a young Egyptian who believed in something which we couldn't comprehend with our five senses.... If I could have picked my roles, I would have played these kinds of heavies, people who have a mental quirk or who for some reason or another, are acting against the positive side of the plot of the picture". [5]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 305.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Mummy's Tomb". American Film Institute . Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 306.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 307.
  5. 1 2 3 Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 310.
  6. Wollstein.