Wow, 200 of these. Who’da thought?
Imhotep starred in Universal’s A mummy picture, but Kharis of the B movies series is who we generally think of when we speak of The Mummy; the tanna leaves and all that. Although obviously inferior to the Karloff picture, the Kharis movies remain fun monster stuff. Indeed, the mummy movies are the ones I point to to justify my position in the Universal vs. Hammer debate. Hammer had great movies, but their lame stuff (such as their own later mummy movies) could often be really, really lame. Universal’s junk remains quite fun to watch.
Kharis was first brought to the screen by ex-cowboy star Tom Tyler; Lon Chaney Jr., who Universal was trying to make into a one-man monster factory (with mixed results), played him in the three sequels. Chaney brought little to the part other than a certain inappropriate bulk which suggests a Ben and Jerry’s flavor called Chunky Mummy.
More interesting was the backup players Kharis got. His handlers (who inevitably met a bad fate, occasionally at Kharis’ own bandaged hands) included George Zucco, John Carradine, Turhan Bey and a young Martin Kosleck. Again, that sort of casting indicates why the Kharis movies hold up today.