The Karnak Archives

The Mummy's Tomb (Universal, 1942)

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Lobby Poster--Kharis invades the U. S. A. in this 1942 production, 
filmed less than a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His immigration
to American shores reflected the generalized anxiety caused by the sneak
attack. In this second Kharis film, the mummy is brought to Mapleton,
Mass., by High Priest Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey) who attempts kill the
surviving members of the Banning expedition. (Actors in poster, from
 top down: Lon Chaney, Elyse Knox, Dick Foran, Wallace Ford,
 and Turhan Bey.)





tomb1.jpg (53419 bytes)Kharis still lives despite being scorched by an overturned brazier at the climax of the last film. Andoheb (George Zucco) also revived from his gunshot wound and tumble down the temple stairs. Here he initiates Mehemet Bey into the mysteries of Karnak. Bey learns that he must take the twisted, maimed, but still lethal mummy to America, where the members of the Banning party flaunt their discovery and desecration of Ananka's tomb. The Banning clan must perish for their unholy deeds. Bey accepts his mission, and voyages by ocean liner to the USA, where he poses as a cemetery caretaker.  


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By night, Mehemet Bey conducts occult rituals and awakens Kharis with fluid prepared from nine of the sacred tana leaves. The scenes of the mummy's revival in The Mummy's Tomb are especially effective. The soft, suave voice of Turhan Bey intones magical spells among the shadows as the wind whispers restlessly outside. An ill wind for the members of the Banning expedition....


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Kharis wanders into the uneasy, wind-swept darkness, guided unerringly toward the Banning house by supernatural instincts sharpened over three-thousand years within the tombs of Egypt. As elderly Stephan Banning prepares to go to bed, the mummy enters his bedroom through an open window. Terrified to see the creature he thought had been destroyed years ago, Banning backs away from the withered hand reaching for his throat. But Kharis quickly overpowers the old man, strangles him, and returns to Mehemet Bey and the darkness of the night, leaving only a trace of mold around the neck of the throttled Egyptologist.  



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Police are baffled by the murder of Stephan Banning, and when it is quickly followed by the slaying of Banning's elderly sister they become even more bewildered. Jim, the Banning's groundskeeper, has seen the murderer, but falls into a mute state of shock from which he never recovers. Babe Hanson (Wallace Ford) is summoned, and hears about the mold found on the necks of the two victims. He knows immediately that Kharis the mummy is the killer, but the police refuse to believe him. While in a local bar, Babe carelessly voices his theory about the mummy for all to hear. Mehemet Bey, who happens to be present at a nearby table, overhears Babe's conversation, and leaves to awaken Kharis. Leaving the bar, Babe runs into the mummy and flees down a blind alley....



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Trapped in the alley, Babe tries frantically to escape in a scene of claustrophobic terror. But the mummy easily overpowers the older man, and claims another victim. Three senior citizens have now been dispatched by the mummy. It's interesting that the silver-haired prey of Kharis in The Mummy's Tomb are just like the elderly parents and grandparents that soldiers were leaving back home as they went overseas to fight in foreign lands. Some more unconscious war-related anxieties were probably manifesting in the film via frightful scenes of the mummy attacking oldsters.  





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Just as in the first Kharis adventure, the High Priest becomes diverted from his objectives by a pretty woman. Mehemet Bey develops a letch for John Banning's fiancee, Isobel (Elyse Knox) and sends Kharis out to fetch the girl to his graveyard hideout. Kharis reluctantly obeys, and soon Bey has the blonde in his clutches. Like his predecessor, he intends to immortalize the girl with tana fluid and make her his undying lover. 




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The mob which is out hunting for the mummy discovers the priest's secret base of operations. Kharis escapes out the back with Isobel, and Mehemet Bey confronts the mob. He is gunned down by the sheriff while trying to shoot John Banning. Most writers note that the mob sequences in The Mummy's Tomb use stock footage from Frankenstein. They also use some of the graveyard scenes from Bride of Frankenstein.




TombF.jpg (90111 bytes)The mummy heads back to the Banning home, closely pursued by the mob. John Banning catches up with the monster, and manages to save Isobel after a terrific battle. By now, the rest of the townspeople are at the scene, and begin throwing torches onto the balcony of the Banning house. John and Isobel escape, but Kharis remains trapped in the blaze, and supposedly perishes.
But we all know better.......

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The Mummy's Tomb
at Universal Studios

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