Saturday, September 1, 2012
MY FAVORITE MUMMY
Call it a guilty pleasure, but my favorite Mummy movie is not Karloff's version, it's not Lee's version -- it's Tom Tyler's in Universal's THE MUMMY'S HAND (1940). Mix in one part ancient curse, one part all-out adventure story, and one part reanimated Mummy, and you've got yourself a rollicking 60- minute thrill ride.
This film marked a departure from the original story of Imhotep and Ankh-es-en-amon and began the series that told the story of Kharis and Princess Ananka. Complete with a secret cult lead by the newly-appointed George Zucco as Professor Andoheb who guards the resting place of Ananka and the mysterious tana leaf fluid that keeps the Mummy alive, what's there not to like about this movie? While it doesn't reach the filmic heights of the original, or feature a canonized director like James Whale, it nevertheless is a fun, B-movie monster melodrama that's filled with action from the first reel to the last.
Tom Tyler plays the titular monster in THE MUMMY'S HAND. He does not have the luxury of mixing into modern society like Karloff's Ardath Bey/Imhotep. Instead, he is portrayed as a souless demon from hell, reanimated with the nine tana leaves that will make him "kill and kill"! He is the unquestioning automaton of a raving madman, determined to uphold the secret he was sworn to protect from the prying eyes of the unwashed and uninitiated.
Mr. Tyler had a career playing all sorts of characters, including Capt. Marvel, but my favorite has always been his role as Kharis. Those flickering eyes!
Here is an article that covers his career. It's from Warren's SCREEN THRILLS ILLUSTRATED #6 (October 1963).
Based on the foregoing, you can probably guess that one of my favorite monster models was The Mummy, as well. The kit wasn't fashioned after either Karloff or Tyler, however, but by the later Lon Chaney, Jr. portrayals.
Now, you have to remember, I'm from the original Monster Kid generation, so that means the model I'm talking about is the Aurora Plastics kit with the now-famous James Bama box art.
I have few artifacts from those days other than a fairly hefty stack of monster mags. Among my treasures are a few of the Aurora kit instruction sheets and the box art, albeit with the sidepanels cut off for "easy storing". Some of those side panels found themselves scotch-taped or rubber cemented and used for titles on the pages of my homemade monster magazine, MONSTERS MAGAZINE.
Here are images from a bygone day -- the James Bama box art and the instruction sheet from the Aurora Plastics model kit, The Mummy!