The Devil’s Hand (1961)
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- The good news, it’s a scant 71 minutes. The bad news, the opening credits have a ’60s rockin’ surf guitar theme.
- A sleep-deprived man wakes up and sees a dancing woman in negligee surrounded by clouds in his bedroom. Then a scene later he’s walking down the street when he sees in a shop window a doll with the same face of the dancing woman on a doll. How he would even recognize a plastic doll face and associate it with the dream woman is astonishing.
- The next day he goes in the shop to maybe buy the doll when the shop owner recognizes the fella and says the doll was custom made just for him based on the photo he brought in. What a mystery!
- Is the protagonist’s name Mr. Tuna?
- I’m just as confused as Mr. Tuna at what’s transpiring.
- In the basement of the doll shop is what I’m assuming a voodoo church complete with a young African-American playing the bongos.
- It’s still funny seeing old movies and people smoking in hospitals.
- The dream woman wakes up Mr. Tuna and asks him: “What’s wrong, can’t sleep?” HE WAS SLEEPING YOU TRAMP!!
- Just realized that Mr. Tuna is played by Alan Alda’s father.
- Did his fiancé just say she has to stop acting like a woman? I don’t think that will please Mr. Tuna.
- The doll shop owner told Mr. Tuna that the doll that looked like his fiancé was picked up by the buyer that morning. But after Mr. Tuna buys the one that looks like his dream woman and leaves, the shop owner looks over to the display case and the fiancé doll is still there. He’s a lousy liar.
- Oh good, a stereotypical Tibetan butler.
- Mr. Tuna is a very strong-willed man to be able to withstand Bianca Milan’s sexual advances.
- “Who gave you the recipe, Dr. Jekyl or Mr. Hyde?” That really is an odd statement. What I mean is Dr. Jekyl was the good persona but he actually made the recipe that turned him into the evil persona of Mr. Hyde. So if Mr. Hyde made the recipe it would do the opposite right? My head hurts.
- Bianca Milan worships Gamba, the devil God of evil. Not Vincenzo Gamba the 17th century Italian musician. Or Sandro Gamba the Italian basketball player. I didn’t even know they played basketball in Italy that long ago.
- He starts to make love to Bianca and she’s says that before they do he must become a worshipper of Gamba. He says “tomorrow.” Totally classic Rick.
- Oh it’s Mr. Turner. The way the shop owner keeps saying his name it sounds like Tuna.
- I’m going to assume that all doll shops have voodoo/satanic temples I their basements. It just makes sense.
- The “human sacrifice” ceremony is absurd. A woman is on a table with a large circle with about 8 blades hanging down like a chandelier. The shop owner/Gamba priest takes a stick and spins the circle and presses a foot lever to lower the circle onto the girl. It just so happens this girl is worthy of Gamba since the blade that touched her was rubber.
- Rick quickly forgot all about his fiancé, What’s-her-name.
- Now we see that with Bianca he’s winning lots of money in gambling and stock market trading. All thanks to Gamba. Not Enrico Gamba, the 19th century Italian painter.
- Some random drunk woman is trying to persuade Rick to leave the cult. I have no idea who this woman is.
- Rick can’t leave the Gamba cult. Bianca is giving him the best blow jobs he’s ever had. Presumedly.
- It was just a loyalty test to see if Rick would rat on the woman. Which he did. Top notch Rick.
- Hahaha. The shop owner still has Rick’s fiancé’ doll still on display in the shop with a large pin stuck in its gut.
- Why did the Gamba cult choose Rick anyway? Was it random? He’s not an extraordinary man of influence or wealth. Just an average joe who happened to be unemployed.
- I just noticed that the cult has a Buddha statue in its temple. Did anyone ever know what Satanists actually worship or how they decorate their places of worship. Almost every old movie is wholly inaccurate.
- Bianca receives a call that Rick is coming over. A moment later Rick is in her living room having a drink and Bianca enters the room wearing negligee again. This isn’t uncommon in older movies where the ladies change into “something a little more comfortable.” I wish my old lady would change into something more comfortable more often.
- “If I thought I’d ever lose you, I’d …”
“I’d kill you!”
Logic at its finest.
- There’s a subplot here about a portly cult member who is clearly a spy or reporter, who, earlier in the film was taking pictures. When Rick was helping his fiancé by taking the pin out of her doll he made a small ruckus in the temple and the shop owner investigated but only found the mole’s note about his plan. Now the shop owner is telling the cult that there is a traitor amongst them and at midnight he will be eliminated. The next scene has the leader stick a pin in the fella’s doll’s eye and as the fella was driving he shrieks, covers his eyes and drives off the cliff and then his car explodes.
- When Rick took the pin out of his fiancé’ doll she miraculously was cured. But the cult had a member posing as the fiancé nurse to spy on her. But the nurse never told the cult that she was cured meaning that something with the curse is wrong. The doll is still hanging in the display but without the pin. The nurse only told Bianca when the fiancé was discharged from the hospital. What a lousy spy.
- Why is it always dancing at these satanic/cult ceremonies. In this film it’s just a black couple dancing normally fully clothed. It doesn’t look ritualistic at all. AT ALL!
- SHOCK! Rick’s fiancé is now on the sacrificial table! Time to pay the piper you two-timing louse!
- I guess the fiancé is under a trance or spell since she’s not moving to try to escape.
- Rick knocks out the leader and purposely makes the blade fall on him. MURDER!
- But he manages to escape a room full of cult members and sets it on fire. Luckily his car was parked right outside and he and the fiancé were able to flee Scot-free. Great parabolic horror film. Rick was basically the morally bankrupt fool the whole time.
Scare Level: I’m just shocked at how I stayed awake watching this wet blanket of a flick.
Gore Level: Move along son…
Nudity Level: Early 60s negligee in black and white is the best you’re gonna get.
Best Scene: I’m always a sucker for a good unnecessary car explosion off a cliff gag.
Worst Scene: Nothing in this piece of schlock was any good so the whole thing was terrible.
Level of Hell: This was a total snore-fest, being so mostly because it was still made during the Hays Code of movie-making, hence being like a typical filmmaking style like Leave It to Beaver. And thrills not unlike Leave It to Beaver too.
Overall: I can’t believe I watched enough “satanic” themed horror flicks to still have leftovers. Days and days of leftovers. But this one was at least different being the oldest I watched as well as the tamest. I kinda knew what I was getting into being an early 60s low-budget black and white horror film. No gore, no nudity, barely a scare or even scary make-up. It was supposed to be a “psychological thriller” I suppose, in the vein of a Tales From the Crypt style of story but it barely raises and eyebrow. It may have made an impact on my parents’ generation. But probably not. I just learned that this was made in 1959 but not released until 1961. Meaning this came out a year after Hitchcock’s Psycho, so there was examples of decent level of gore, suspense, shock and scares way better than something like The Devil’s Hand.
Score: 3 Glasses of Gamba Juice (out of 10)