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The Devil's Hand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Devil's Hand
The Devil's Hand.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam J. Hole Jr.
Produced byAlvin K. Bubis
Rex Carlton
Written byJo Heims (screenplay)
StarringRobert Alda
Linda Christian
Ariadna Welter
Neil Hamilton
Gere Craft
Music byAllyn Ferguson
Michael Terr
CinematographyMeredith M. Nicholson
Edited byHoward Epstein
Distributed byCrown International Pictures
Release date
  • 1961 (1961)
Running time
71 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

The Devil's Hand (a.k.a. Witchcraft, The Naked Goddess, Devil's Doll and Live to Love) is a 1961 American independent horror film. It was produced by Alvin K. Bublis and directed by William J. Hole Jr. The film stars Linda Christian, Robert Alda, Ariadna Welter and Neil Hamilton. The movie was made in 1959 by Rex Carlton Productions, but not distributed until 1961 by Crown International Pictures. It follows the activities of a group of modern-day Los Angelenos who are members of a cult that worships Gamba, the Great Devil God.

Plot

Rick Turner (Robert Alda) has a problem. He awakens night after night seeing visions of a beautiful woman in a negligee dancing in the clouds. The visions disturb him. One night he gets up, goes walking and is drawn to a doll shop. In the window he sees a doll that is the exact image of the woman in his visions. He takes his girlfriend Donna Trent (Ariadna Welter) there the next day. To his surprise the doll shop owner, Frank Lamont (Neil Hamilton), not only knows his name but insists that he ordered the doll, a likeness of Bianca Milan (Linda Christian), whom Rick has never met.

Donna spots a doll that looks just like her. Frank refuses to sell it. As Rick and Donna leave, Frank takes the doll into his oddly-decorated back room - curtains, open-flame lamps, an altar, a statue of the Buddha - and stabs it with a long pin. Donna suddenly collapses in pain. Rick takes her to hospital, where a doctor (Roy Wright) tells him that she has had a "spasm of the heart" and needs complete bed rest.

Rick has another vision of Bianca. He tells Donna that he's going to deliver the Bianca doll to Bianca "to get this thing off my back." When Rick returns to the doll shop, Frank hands over the doll, insisting that Rick had paid for it in advance. Perplexed, Rick goes to Bianca's luxurious apartment and is entranced by her beauty. They become lovers that night. Bianca explains that his visions are a "simple process of thought projection or thought transference," which she learned as a member of the cult of Gamba, the Great Devil God. She makes Rick accompany her right then to a cult meeting so that he can be inducted. The meeting is held in the oddly-decorated room at the doll shop, for Frank is the High Executioner of the Gamba cult.

At the meeting, Bianca explains that a human sacrifice ceremony is to be held. A young woman is laid on the altar; above her a wheel studded with knives is spun. As it lowers, Gamba decides if the sacrifice lives or dies. Frank goes behind the lectern and steps on a foot pedal, making it unclear whether he or Gamba controls the wheel. The knife blade that strikes the sacrifice is rubber. She survives unhurt. A man in the cult covertly snaps a photo of the event.

Later, at the doll shop, Rick spots the Donna doll, pinned to the wall through the heart, but he can't remove the pin without being seen. He goes to the hospital and tells Donna that she will be completely cured at midnight that night.

Donna is in fact cured at midnight and discharged. Mary (Gene Craft), a cultist and nurse at the hospital, calls Bianca to report the sudden turn of events. When Rick arrives at Bianca's apartment, she tells him that they must attend an emergency meeting of the cult at 10:30 that night. During the meeting, Frank says that one of them is an "intruder" and will die at midnight, then adjourns until 12:30 am. At the stroke of midnight, Frank grabs the doll of the man who took the photo - an undercover reporter - and jams a pin through its head. The reporter, who is driving, screams and clutches his forehead. His car plunges down a hillside and as Frank burns the doll, the wreckage bursts into flame.

At the 12:30 meeting, Frank announces that Rick's loyalty is now to be tested, and Donna is brought in as a sacrifice. Frank makes Rick spin the wheel, but as it drops, Rick pulls Donna to safety. A fight breaks out. The wheel falls on Frank, killing him. The room catches fire. Rick and Donna escape. Bianca picks up her doll. Everyone else apparently dies.

With fire department sirens wailing, Rick and Donna, a romantic pair again, drive away. "That's the end to it," says Rick. Then Bianca, once again among the clouds, gets in the last word, smiling and saying, "That's what he thinks!"

Cast

Production

The producer of the film was Alvin K. Bublis and Jack Miles was the executive producer. Rick Newberry, Pierre Groleau, Harris Gilbert, and Dave Harney are all listed as associate producers.[1]

Rex Carlton Productions began work on The Devil's Hand in Mexico City in mid-January 1959,[2] but the movie did not have its premiere until September 13, 1961, in San Diego, California,[3] released on a double-bill with Bloodlust![4] It was filmed in various locations around Los Angeles, including McArthur Park, the storefront at 2534 West 7th Street, which served as the doll shop, and a building at 5907 West Pico Boulevard, used as Belmont Hospital.[5] The movie opened in Mexico on December 12, 1962 and was also released in Venezuela and West Germany.[6]

Of the production, Linda Christian said, "The picture was shot really quickly. They were having financial problems and wanted to get it in the can. ... I don't think everybody got paid. They owed us quite a bit of money. My sister, Ariadna [Welter] was also in the film ... she said later, 'Never again!' to doing a film in America."[7] By the time The Devil's Hand was released, Welter had starred in 21 films made in her and her sister's native country of Mexico.[8]

Soundtrack

The "Theme from 'The Devil's Hand,'" performed by Baker Harris and the Knightmares, was released as a 45 RPM 7" single on the Chess Records label in July 1961.[9] The song was composed by Allyn Ferguson and Michael Terr[10] and failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.[11]

Reception

The few critics who reviewed The Devil's Hand when it was released panned it. Margaret Harford of The Los Angeles Times called it a "sub-standard horror feature" and wrote that "the plot is absurd and performed in dead earnest." She added that "Miss Christian is certainly an eye-opening lass wearing a flimsy negligee; in fact, she models several flimsy negligees, At no time, however, is she quite as transparent as the plot."[4]

BoxOffice magazine's anonymous reviewer said the film was a "tale of woe not to be dismissed lightly by those audience components known to acclaim and accolade all-out stress on the indelicate in man." The reviewer continued, "the production's overall effect is one of ponderous detail as all concerned strive excessively for gruesomeness" and concluded that "the audience should be regulated to adult participation."[12] The magazine's "Exploitip" for exhibitors to drum up business was to "invite a local woman to sit at a special post-midnight screening, appropriately covered by press, radio and TV."[13]

The actors voiced similar disapproval of the film, with star Linda Christian stating, "I liked my part. It was rather glamorous, but I was disappointed when the script was made into a film because it was so superficial. They changed the emphasis from magic and witchcraft to devil worship."[7] Bryan Senn later noted that "according to co-star Ariadna Welter, Robert Alda 'wasn't too pleased with the results' of this picture." Senn agreed with The Los Angeles Times' assessment of the physical appearance of Christian, writing that the "only real point of interest in this threadbare obscurity lay in the astounding beauty of its star, Linda Christian".[14]

Later reviewers also had little praise for The Devil's Hand. British film critic Phil Hardy billed it as "cheaply made" and noted that it "compares distinctly unfavourably" with Hole's Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959), a film Hardy describes as "an inane, virtually plotless mixture of haunted houses, hot-rodders and rock'n'roll".[15] Senn criticizes the film's characterizations, saying it "offers no depth of character anywhere, ignoring whatever tortured reasons caused these people to seek out this 'devil-god of evil.' (None of the bland characters seem as if they've lost their soul - they don't appear interesting enough to have even had one in the first place - and the coven comes across as nothing more than a rather silly and dull after-hours club)."[16] Bill Warren, reviewing a different film, refers in passing to The Devil's Hand as being "as boring a film as I've seen."[17]

Television release

The Devil's Hand went to television little more than a year after its theatrical release, being sold in October 1963 by Westhampton Features, a part of Desilu, as part of a 41-title package.[18] Clips from the film were later used in the "Witches" episode of the 26-episode TV program 100 Years of Horror, which first aired on March 20, 1997.[19][20]

Home release

The Devil's Hand has long been available for home viewing. VCI Home Video released the movie on VHS in the USA in 1997, and its first domestic release on DVD was by Alpha Video in 2004. The first release outside the USA was by World Editora in Brazil in 2005. In 2009, GoDigital Media released it in "world-wide all-media" form, and Elea Media released it on DVD in Germany in 2016. Other companies have released it on DVD as well.[21] The DVDs Shiver & Shudder Show in 2002 and The Crown Jewels: America's Oldest Indie Film Company in 2016 both used clips from the movie.[19]

References

  1. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment, Drive-In Cult Classics 8 Movie Collection, Vol. 2. 2005
  2. ^ "Pictures". Variety. New York City, NY: Variety Media, LLC.: 7 December 17, 1958. ISSN 0042-2738. OCLC 810134503.
  3. ^ "The Devil's Hand". American Film Institute.
  4. ^ a b Harford, Margaret (12 January 1962). "Horror Film Stars Some Old Friends". The Los Angeles Times. p. A8.
  5. ^ "Filming Locations". IMDb.com.
  6. ^ "Release Information". IMDb.com.
  7. ^ a b Parla, Paul; Mitchell, Charles P. (2000). Screen Sirens Scream! Interviews with 20 Actresses from Science Fiction, Horror, Film Noir and Mystery Movies, 1930s to 1960s. McFarland & Co. Inc. p. 42. ISBN 0786407018.
  8. ^ "Arianda Welter Filmography". IMDb.com.
  9. ^ "Theme from The Devil's Hand". 45cat.com.
  10. ^ "Theme from 'The Devil's Hand'". Soundtrack.net.
  11. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 - 1961". Billboard.com.
  12. ^ "Review of The Devil's Hand". Boxoffice,com.
  13. ^ "Review of The Devil's Hand". Boxoffice.com.
  14. ^ Senn, Bryan (2007). A Year of Fear: A Day-to-Day Guide to 366 Horror Films. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. Inc. p. 118. ISBN 9780786431960.
  15. ^ Hardy, ed., Phil (1986). The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies. NY: Harper & Row. pp. 118, 119. ISBN 0060550503.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Senn, Bryan (2007). A Year of Fear: A Day-to-Day Guide to 366 Horror Films. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. Inc. p. 71. ISBN 9780786431960.
  17. ^ Warren, Bill (2010). Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, the 21st Century Edition. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. Inc. p. 134. ISBN 9781476666181.
  18. ^ Heffernan, Kevin (2004). Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business 1963-1968. Durham NC: Duke University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0822385554.
  19. ^ a b "Movie Connections". IMDb.com.
  20. ^ "Complete Episode List". The TV Data Base.
  21. ^ "Company Credits". IMDb.com.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 April 2021, at 10:04
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