Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Beast With Five Fingers

Okay this one was made in 1946, don't care, still doing it!

Whoa, this actually was pretty good. Special thanks once more to Cinemassacre's Monster Madness for bringing this film on my radar, and after seeing it for myself I very much enjoyed it. So let's talk briefly about the story, an aging disabled piano player invites guests to his house to bear witness to his will and soon dies thereafter. No foul play is suspected but odd things keep occuring and a second victim is almost claimed leading our main characters to wonder is someone really behind this caper or is it quite literally a hand of death. For a 1940s film about a severed hand it's pretty technically sophisticated and wonderfully directed, with completely unconventional shots and camera movements I've just never experienced before in this era. Shot in pristine black and white, with bits of eerie atmosphere, great use of lighting, and an orchestral score that accentuates the movie just right with a hauntingly heavy Bach composition on piano, it's enough to satisfy any classic horror movie fan. The acting is just as good too, with Robert Alda (father of Alan Alda) being the most charismatic, smooth talking, suave man I have ever seen in the movies, like seriously John Barrowman has some competition now, my God this man was practically making my pants melt down to my ankles. Andrea King and him have quite nice chemistry and she knows how to bring something unique to each situation, and isn't just a shrieking damsel to fall into the arms of her man. But Peter Lorre. Holy shit! From the first time we see him just dressed all in black standing in a window the kinda unsettling aura leaps from the screen, easily the best performance of his I've seen, the dead staring right through you gaze, that simultaneous lulling and yet unnerving voice, his physicality expertly pronounced with the lighting, and the manic frantic energy we saw in M makes it a class act in my book. I know some people might take grief with the fact that for a movie less than an hour and a half long that it takes an hour for the hand to even appear, but the movie isn't dull or even seems padded. Curt Siodmak writer of The Wolf Man has a lot of that fanciful, dignified, smooth talking that is a relic of a bygone age in this current day that makes it engaging to watch and the film doesn't really give you definitive answers on the strange goings on until the end so it encourages viewer thinking. Is the hand real? Is Peter Lorre just off his rocker? Who's behind it? Who knows! You gotta see it for yourself. This is a real hidden gem from a time period where monster and horror movies were starting to fall from grace, leading the way to the atomic age of aliens and science experiments gone wrong. So check it out, I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10, and our next movie is pretty unconventional but I think it will lead to some fascinating thoughts so stay tuned.

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