Mummy's Hand, The (Blu-ray) (1940)

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Released 10-May-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1940
Running Time 66:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Christy Cabanne
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Dick Foran
Peggy Moran
George Zucco
Wallace Ford
Charles Towbridge
Cecil Kellaway
Tom Tyler

Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In the space of a couple of years in the early 1930s Universal introduced a number of horror / monster icons to the screen: Dracula and Frankenstein (both 1931), The Mummy (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933). After this flowering new monsters dried up with the exception of The Wolf Man in 1941; instead Universal produced a succession of sequels and spin-off throughout the rest of the 1930s and 1940s. Some were excellent in their own right, such as The Bride of Frankenstein (1936), but many were lesser productions, cashing in on the earlier hits. In the case of The Mummy there were five additional Universal films, the first being The Mummy’s Hand in 1940.

     Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford) are two bumbling American adventurers in Cairo, c. 1940. In the Cairo bazaar Steve buys a broken pot with an inscription on it; Steve believes it identifies the location of the lost tomb of Princess Ananka and takes it to the Cairo Museum where Dr. Petrie (Charles Towbridge) considers it genuine. However, when they show the pot to his superior at the museum, Professor Andoheb (George Zucco), he dismisses it as a fake. We already know, however, that Professor Andoheb is in reality the High Priest at Karnak, the latest in the line of High Priests who have kept the mummy of Prince Kharis alive over 3000 years by a monthly infusion (at the full moon) of a brew made from Tana leaves. Kharis, was buried alive for trying to steal the Tanna leaves to resurrect the Princess Ananka after her death, and he is controlled by the High Priest who can unleashed the mummy of Kharis to murder anybody who comes to excavate the tomb of the Princess.

     Steve and Babe are not put off by Professor Andoheb’s dismissal of their find and seek funds to mount an expedition. They stumble upon an American magician about to leave Cairo, the Great Solvani (Cecil Kellaway), and persuade him to finance them, much to the disapproval of Solvani’s daughter Marta (Peggy Moran). The four, plus Dr. Petrie and some diggers, head into the desert towards the location of the tomb of Princess Ananka where the revived mummy (Tom Tyler) and Professor Andoheb lie in wait.

     Unlike the sequels of the other Universal monster franchises, the spin-offs from The Mummy (1932) bear no relation to the parent film; the stars and director of the original did not return and in fact the mummy is not called Imhotep but Kharis and he is not trying to resurrect his lost love. An even bigger change is the tone of the new film: while the original The Mummy was a love story played straight, and the creature and it’s bandages were never clearly seen, The Mummy’s Hand is much lighter in tone, with a number of scenes, especially those featuring the “sidekick” Babe, played for laughs. The new film is also cheaper looking; it lifts a number of scenes directly from the earlier film, cutting in close-ups of Tyler to replace the Karloff ones, the scroll is replaced by leaves and it is hard to believe that the tomb of Ananka has been undiscovered for 3000 years. It sits prominently on a hill, with stairs leading up to it with a normal opening, with a large carved face on the exterior (which actually looks more Mayan, or even Cambodian, than Egyptian). The Mummy is not even the main villain; it is Professor Andoheb who controls Kharis, sending him out to kill, and it is Andoheb who tries to sacrifice Marta.

     That said, The Mummy’s Hand in its own right is a lot of fun; for example, we get to see the full mummy costume, including the iconic image of the mummy carrying away the girl in his arms. While the humour of both the Wallace Ford and Cecil Kellaway characters can be a bit forced, Dick Foran is an acceptable hero and he and Peggy Moran look good together. The Mummy’s Hand has some tension, a couple of scares and humour and, at just under 70 minutes in length, prolific director Christy Cabanne (with 166 credits on his resume) keeps the film speeding along.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Mummy’s Hand is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     It this film really over 75 years old? The Mummy’s Hand is hardly a high profile title so I didn’t know what to expect but the film print has been restored and looks great (for comparisons have a look at the trailer). There is controlled grain in some sequences but otherwise this is a very clean print without obvious marks or artefacts. Blacks, greyscale and shadow detail are very good, if a bit light, the close-ups are clear.

     Large white subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
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Overall

Audio

     The only audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (mono).

     Dialogue was always easy to understand. There was little by way of effects but gun shots are crisp and the music clean. There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use. There is no credit for the score but it was provided by Hans J Salter and Frank Skinner.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was generally fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailer (1:35)

     On start-up you are required first to select The Mummy’s Hand or The Mummy’s Tomb to watch. The selected film commences without a further menu, but you can use the pop-up menu via the remote to select chapters, subtitles and the film’s unrestored trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray release of The Mummy’s Hand starts with the US FBI antipiracy warning. The same double bill of The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb appears to have also been released in the US and UK. The The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection (see the summary below) is also available in other regions.

Summary

     It may seem a strange thing to say but the original The Mummy from 1932, although a classic by any reckoning, was by no means a typical Mummy film as we now, 85 years and many spin-offs and re-imaginings later, think about them; it was a love story and the creature only put in a fleeting appearance. The Mummy’s Hand, the first sequel / spin off, however, set the more remembered image of the Mummy as a bandaged, walking creature with murder in mind, carrying the heroine into the night in his arms. If you don’t expect anything serious, The Mummy’s Hand is a heap of fun.

     The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. A trailer is the only extra although there are two complete Mummy films on this Blu-ray.

     The Mummy’s Hand is available as stand-alone single Blu-ray paired with The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) on one Blu-ray but it is also included in Universals’ 4 disc The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection which also has The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb on one Blu-ray, The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) and The Mummy’s Curse (1944) on another and The Mummy (1932) and Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955) on single Blu-rays.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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