This is a tough one. Which to choose? The classic 1932 Boris Karloff film The Mummy which set the stage for undead Egyptians chasing archeologists? Or the first rampaging mummy film, the kind of mummy that’s wrapped in bandages like in the film The Mummy’s Hand (1940)?
Karloff was briefly seen in walking bandages at the start of the 1932 film but he quickly ditched them for some modern clothes so he could carry out his evil schemes unnoticed. The Mummy’s Hand on the other hand is about a priest named Kharis (Tom Tyler) who is entombed without his tongue and kept alive with tanis leaves in order to protect the tomb of Princess Ananka. He shambles about in bandages for the entire film and is conveniently silent throughout the film (having no tongue will do that).
After a brief introduction to the history of Kharis, The Mummy’s Hand follows archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and sidekick (and comedy relief) Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford) as they discover a broken vase that can lead them to the tomb of the Princess. They form an expedition and soon encounter Kharis. The evil Andoheb (George Zucco) has revived Kharis to dispatch with the expedition before they find the tomb.
This film wasn’t a sequel to the original 1932 The Mummy. In that film Karloff’s character was named Imhotep and he was trying to resurrect his dead beloved. Here Kharis has a similar back story but he is just a murderous monster being controlled by his master. The film was so successful that Universal made three more sequels that featured Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis. Hammer Productions remade this film as The Mummy in 1959 with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as the undead Kharis. The next time Imhotep showed up was in the cheesy 1999 remake of The Mummy where he was mostly CGI.