The Mummy’s Tomb Blu-ray Review

Entombed

It’s nearly 10 minutes into this mere hour long Mummy’s Hand sequel before it actually begins. Dick Foran, returning from the previous adventure, recounts his story via stock footage. With only the second sequel, the mummy series already gasped for air.

Before Mummy’s Tomb concludes, it will invoke the angry villagers cliché and redundantly reset the lore with a new High Priest in command of the walking Egyptian dead. Not much happens as a result.

Universal adds star power to their creature, bandaging Lon Chaney Jr. into the mummy role, eventually playing for three total films. Unlike his stint as the Wolf Man, this mummy doesn’t allow personality. It’s a role with one dysfunctional arm, a leg little more than dead weight, and make-up so confining his face doesn’t move either.

Some of the classic Universal horror is invoked

The action resets to America, pulling away from the Egyptian caves as Turhan Bey brings Kharis’ casket to a small town, seeking revenge on the Banning family who disturbed the burial site in Mummy’s Hand. The change in venue isn’t a change in plotting. Bey commands Kharis, Kharis kills, an investigation ensues. Cue torches.

Routine and unnecessary as Mummy’s Tomb feels (the box office value in 1942 notwithstanding) there are signs of something more. The glimmer of World War II hangs over the piece, from mentions of the Russian front to draft letters. Belief in a free press pop in as well. At a loss for answers, police rely on frenzied reporters, eager to give the public information on a local killer.

A handful of effective scenes benefit from clever staging. One kill builds tension through passing shadows, intercut with Kharis wandering through neighborhoods toward his victim. Increased editing pace adds energy while the stock score ramps up. Some of the classic Universal horror is invoked. For the finale, a rather daring crane shot envelops Chaney in fire as a house burns. Much as this acknowledges the camera and betrays the film’s reality, for the era (and the series), it’s a relief.

Brandished torches and mob mentality or not, Mummy’s Tomb does craft a scintillating finish. Stuntwork happens behind flames and stock music from other horror productions is effectively curated. Dull and droning as Mummy’s Tomb is prior, it leaves on a memorable climax.

Video

A pokey grain structure is evident for much of Mummy’s Tomb’s runtime. Universal’s encode resolves the film stock well. You’ll find no compression issues here, yet it’s hard to ignore how pointed the film grain appears. It’s an unusual look.

No processing is applied. Detail is too substantial for edge enhancement or filtering. Chaney’s heavy make-up comes through this high-resolution transfer, showing an appropriately ghastly appliance. The texture is masterfully done by make-up legend Jack Pierce.

This isn’t only a swell of successful close-up camera work. Environments produce stunning definition, from the trees around the various properties to trellis growth on the main home set. A scene among some tall weeds handles outstanding levels of resolution.

Mummy’s Tomb needs significant shadows and gray scale for its cinematography. Universal’s Blu-ray is a success here too. Deepened black levels cloak the mummy in shadows without a loss of detail. Earlier scenes work in daylight with exceptional contrast. This all happens courtesy of a flawless print (stock footage excluded), free of imperfections. A skipped frame is as close to a fault as found in Mummy’s Tomb.

Audio

Early hiss during Dick Foran’s retelling of his adventures passes quickly. From there, Mummy’s Tomb produces a DTS-HD track of optimal quality. Exceptional clarity for the period permeates the feature.

Oddly, one line appears dropped. Grace Cunnard’s lips move, but no words come out. The soundtrack though continues, making this an unimportant fault.

Extras

Paired on the same disc with The Mummy’s Hand, the only bonus is the theatrical trailer.

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