Continuing almost directly from where the previous film left off, The Mummy’s Tomb finds Kharis alive and well, or at least as alive and well as he could ever hope to be. Also alive is Andoheb who imparts his knowledge about Kharis and the tana leaves to a new caretaker named Mehemet Bey with the oath that those who violated the tomb under the Hill of the Seven Jackals will be punished, after which he then passes from the Earth. So it is that Kharis is sent to exact his revenge upon those who did him and his wrong.
With this third picture of the franchise, and the second featuring the current continuity, the very first thing that is noticeable is that there is a larger concentration on making this a horror film instead of a comedy; in fact you would be hard-pressed to find any. Because of that fact, the film turns out to be a much more enjoyable experience than the previous one and in turn a lot more eerie, moody and frightening too. Cinematography and direction helped with this a lot, but so did lighting as Universal returned its mummy to the land of shadows. Lighting is one of the key ingredients in a Universal monster movie and is especially important for a horror film as it can usually make or break your film. Seeing a mummy shamble out of the dark when you least expect it is much more effective than seeing it in a brightly lit room. When Universal wanted to make a good horror film, they most often did, but the previous film was more a comedy than anything else and while it was entertaining, just did not seem to fit into their usual mold.
Though he would not speak, nor would you ever see his real face, Lon Chaney Jr. would star in the film as Kharis and receive top billing as well. His makeup was extremely well done and because of that Kharis seemed a little more decayed and desiccated than before. That too would lend to the horror of the film and when you see him advancing on someone, you know immediately that there can be nothing innocent about it. While you could say Chaney was good in the film, all he really did was shamble about and choke people and so if you were judging him by that single criteria, then he did a great job.
There was a little repetition to be had in this picture in a couple of ways, one being the look back at the previous film as this one started. That was fine and it gave some much needed background to those that might have missed the previous movie and explained a few plot points in doing so. Another moment where writer Neil P. Varnick did a little retreading was in the way that Kharis was ultimately defeated. Though it might not have been word for word or scene for scene, it has to do with Mehemet Bey and you know it when you see it. What would have been nice was if something just a little more different had been done instead of essentially repeating what had come before. It was not terrible but it had a sense of ‘been there, done that.’
At the end of the day, The Mummy’s Tomb was far more successful in being a horror film than The Mummy’s Hand ever was. Everything about the picture was just a bit stronger than the last as this tale of revenge featuring a creature that no longer resembles the man he once was kept you captivated from start to finish. A mummy film or any horror movie in general, should be a spooky thing and with this picture, Universal succeeded.