The movie The Mummy’s Hand (1940) is a classic horror film directed by Christy Cabanne and produced by Ben Pivar for Universal Studios. The film is about the ancient Egyptian mummy of Kharis (Tom Tyler), who is kept alive with a brew of tana leaves by The High Priest (Eduardo Ciannelli) and his successor Andoheb (George Zucco)¹.
In Egypt, Andoheb journeys to the Hill of the Seven Jackals in response to the call of The High Priest of Karnak. The dying priest of the sect recounts the tale of Kharis to Andoheb: over three millennia ago, Prince Kharis had secretly loved Princess Ananka, but she passed away. Kharis stole sacred, life-giving tana leaves, but he was apprehended before he could use them to resurrect the deceased Princess Ananka. Upon being discovered, Kharis was sentenced to be entombed alive, without a tongue, and the tana leaves were buried with him. Priests recovered him and kept him alive as the guardian of Ananka’s tomb. During the full moon cycle, the fluid from the brew of three tana leaves must be given to the creature to keep him alive. Should intruders enter the tomb of the Princess, a fluid of nine leaves will restore movement to the monster so he can protect it from defilers. Any more than nine will render him uncontrollable.
In Cairo, archaeologist Steve Banning and his clownish companion, Babe Jenson, discover fragments of a shattered vase in a bazaar. Banning is convinced it is a genuine ancient Egyptian artifact, and his interpretation of the hieroglyphs on the piece leads him to believe it contains clues to the location of Princess Ananka’s tomb. Banning visits Andoheb, who misleads him about the significance of the vase and then deliberately drops and breaks it. With the support of the esteemed Dr. Petrie of the Cairo Museum, but against the wishes of Andoheb, who is a professor of Egyptology at the museum, Banning seeks funds for his expedition. Banning and Jenson encounter an American stage magician, Solvani, who agrees to fund their quest in return for a share of the spoils of the tomb. They then get into a scuffle with Andoheb’s henchmen. Solvani’s daughter Marta is not convinced of his investment, thanks to a prior visit from Andoheb, who brands the two young archeologists as frauds.
The expedition sets off in search of the Hill of the Seven Jackals, with the Solvanis tagging along. In their explorations, they stumble upon the tomb of Kharis, finding the mummy and the tana leaves but nothing to indicate the existence of Ananka’s tomb. Andoheb surprises Dr. Petrie in the mummy’s cave and has the scientist feel the creature’s living pulse. After administering the tana brew from nine leaves, the monster quickly dispatches Petrie by strangling him with one hand, and escapes with Andoheb through a secret passageway to the temple on the other side of the mountain. The creature marauds about the camp, strangling the Egyptian overseer Ali and eventually attacking Solvani and kidnapping Marta. Banning and Jenson set out to track Kharis down, with Jenson going around the mountain and Banning attempting to follow the secret passage they have discovered inside the tomb.
Andoheb has plans of his own: enthralled by Marta’s beauty, he plans to inject himself and his captive with tana fluid, making them both immortal. Jenson arrives in the nick of time and shoots Andoheb dead in self-defense, while Banning attempts to rescue Marta. However, Kharis appears on the scene and in the ensuing struggle, Banning’s bullets have no effect on the mummy. Marta had overheard Adoheb describe the secret of the tana fluid and tells Banning and Jenson that Kharis must not be allowed to drink any more of it. When the creature raises the tana fluid to his lips, Jenson shoots the container from his grasp. Dropping to the floor, Kharis attempts to ingest the spilled life-giving liquid. Banning seizes the opportunity to overturn a brazier onto the monster, engulfing it in flames.
At the end, the members of the expedition head happily back to the United States with the mummy of Ananka and the diamonds from her tomb.
- Dick Foran as Steve Banning⁵
- Peggy Moran as Marta Solvani⁵
- Wallace Ford as Babe Jenson⁵
- Eduardo Ciannelli as The High Priest⁵
- George Zucco as High Priest Andoheb⁵
- Cecil Kellaway as Tim Sullivan aka The Great Solvani⁵
- Charles Trowbridge as Dr. Petrie⁵
- Tom Tyler as Kharis⁵
Some interesting trivia about the movie includes the fact that to make the mummy appear more frightening, Tom Tyler’s eyes (and the inside of his mouth) were blacked out frame-by-frame in almost all close-ups⁸.
The large impressive tomb set was originally built for Universal’s “Green Hell” and appeared again in other Universal features⁸.
Several shots and sequences in this film (including the scene where Kharis is punished by being buried alive) are lifted directly from Universal’s 1932 original version of The Mummy⁸.
“As a film in its own right, The Mummy’s Hand is a brisk and fairly efficient effort, mixing occasional welcome flashes of imagination with equally enjoyable absurdities. – andyoucallyourselfascientist.com 
“Basically, this film does not come off favourably when compared to the 1932 classic but as a 67-minute oddity, it does have its appeal and is worth checking out if you are a fan of the Universal Monsters.” – manapop.com