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The Beast with Five Fingers
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Beast with Five Fingers More at IMDbPro »

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23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:


Author: whpratt1 from United States
14 March 2003

It is very easy to critize the plot or story line of this picture, however, Peter Lorre made this film into an all time great classic along with the great supporting skills of Victor Francen and J. Carrol Naish. Lorre made his own human hand into a monster with his great acting talents, telling us all that mental illness can cause many things to happen within our very souls. The piano music pounded in my ears throughout this picture and the black and white effect made it a great thriller. Police inspector J Carrol Naish gave a great final touch to the ending of this picture, he gave us all a BIG LAUGH!

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23 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Vintege horror at its very best

Author: Chris Gaskin from Derby, England
14 November 2005

The Beast with Five Fngers has to be one of the best classic horrors ever made, along with The Haunting (1963).

A pianist is killed, possibly murdered after he falls down the stairs in his creepy mansion. After his death, strange things start happening including the piano playing on its own accord and the strange behaviour of the secretary. Then murders start to take place and these turn out to be the work of the pianist's severed hand, which haunts the mansion.

With creepy music by Max Steinor, a howling wind and windows slamming open and shut, all these things make this movie very scary.

The excellent cast includes a creepy performance by Peter Lorre (Mad Love, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Robert Alda, Andrea King and J Carrol Naish (The Monster Maker).

This is a must for all horror fans. Excellent and scary.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Most unique and unusual music in the movie.

Author: John Brousch (jbrouschsships) from United States of America
20 June 2001

This movie should be much appreciated by anyone who plays, knows, or likes classic piano music. The piano music played with one hand only is amazing, exciting and bewildering. It is obviously a soundtrack but I feel the actor, and later on, the hand, do a wonderful job making the viewer believe that they are playing this fast tempo and highly complicated piece of piano music, possibly a concerto. I this movie to be overall a really great horror film.

John Brousch

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

More suspense than horror but a must-see for true fans of the genre.

Author: Wilbur-10 from Isle of Man
26 August 2000

Classic early horror with Lorre in superb eye-popping form. Film is set in an Italian mansion where a wealthy pianist is close to death. When he passes away it turns out he has left everything in his will to his nurse, who incurs the wrath of the grasping relatives who have arrived. The bickering takes a sinister turn when the solicitor is strangled, seemingly by the severed hand of the dead pianist.

Lorre plays the deranged librarian whose sightings of the hand send him increasingly over the edge into madness. Despite the true horror potential of the storyline, the film tends to play more like a murder mystery. Much of the atmosphere is wasted by the air of light-heartedness, particularly the contrived slap-happy ending.

Misgivings aside, 'The Beast with Five Fingers' is still one of the genre making horrors, and while not in the same league as the heavyweight films of the 1930's like 'Frankenstein', 'The Invisible Man' or 'Mad Love', still rates serious attention.

Other severed hands featured in ' Dr Terror's House of Horrors, 'Evil Dead II', and Oliver Stone's 'The Hand'.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Worthwhile (6.0-7.0/10.0)

Author: jplenton from cardiff, wales
18 April 2001

The Beast With Five Fingers predates any other ‘disembodied' hand film I've seen by a good twenty years. Such films include Dr. Terror's House Of Horror, The Hand, Evil Dead II, Severed Ties, and the two Addam's Family films and television series. This selection illustrates the gamut of horror film quality, from the delightful Evil Dead II to the atrocious Severed Ties. Happily, their precursor, The Beast With Five Fingers is ‘hands down' one of the better entries in this sub-genre.

The Beast… is set in an Italian village, home of the successful pianist, Francis Ingram, who resides in a sumptuous villa. Ingram is wheelchair bound as his entire right side is paralysed, and is forced to play piano using his single left hand. His style is suitably heavy and melancholic. He is a haunted figure, heavily reliant on his young nurse to the point of obsession, and fixated on his own death. Therefore, he summons his companions to dinner to witness the signing of his will. Amongst them is his personal secretary Hilary (Peter Lorre), a man with his own obsessions; astrology and the occult. It is not long before the Grim Reaper arrives as a belated dinner guest.

The film's most prominent actor is Peter Lorre. Lorre's career in horror fare has seen a slight regression over the years, though not as profound as some of his contemporaries such as Bela Lugosi and John Carradine. In the Thirties, Lorre starred in Fritz Lang's classic M and the rather good Mad Love. However, by the Sixties he was resigned to playing second fiddle to Vincent Price in horror-comedies The Comedy Of Terrors and The Raven. These two films are reasonable enough but eclipsed by his formative work. The Beast… makes a fitting mid-point between these two eras.

Lorre is an engaging actor, his childlike physique and strange manner always invoke some degree of viewer sympathy no matter how heinous his crimes (cf. M). J. Carrol Naish who plays the affable police inspector (yep, never heard of him before) is also notable but his more comedic moments do lessen the film's impact.

The special effects used to animate the hand are impressive for their time, although as the film is in b&w this helps mask its inadequacies somewhat. The rubber hand in Dr. Terror's House Of Horror is pitiable in comparison, and that was made twenty odd years later. The interplay between Lorre and the hand as he alternatively soothes and struggles with it are reminiscent of Ash's plight in Evil Dead II.


The majority of the players seem primarily motivated by avarice. It is somewhat surprising then that the final bodycount is so low. A modern horror would have casually knocked off such ‘sinners' with glee. Perhaps, this highlights a rift between ‘vintage' and modern horror. The vintage film has a more human approach to its characters, although they do suffer in terms of danger and scares, they do not die. The usual modern approach is to emphasise the killings, the characters are just fodder for the killer's and the audience's whimsy. Of course this reasoning parallels the change in audience expectation and tolerance with time, and also what the changes the filmmakers could get away with in terms of censorship and ‘decency'.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Lorre at his best!

Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
3 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Solid gothic melodrama featuring a killer hand -- or is it only killing in the mind of Hilary (Lorre)? Robert Alda is good as a not very straight leading man (he makes his first appearance selling "new antiques" to gullible tourists) and King is adquate as his lover with a secret connection to Hilary. Interestingly, this connection/conspiracy remains a mystery to the police and her lover when the film ends. Siodmak has crafted both an excellent psycho-drama in gothic style, and also a perfect vehicle for Lorre's exquisite theatrics.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Old Fashioned SCARY Movie...

Author: sagg928 from California
12 November 2005

This is one of the scariest movies I ever saw. It really plays with your mind. I admit that I first saw this movie as a kid int the back seat of my parent's car at the drive-in, and FOR YEARS, I was very afraid of the hand coming out from under sofas, beds and anywhere dark.

It connects with something deep in the subconscious as the hand is the part of the body that does all things and in this movie it is a power all unto itself.

The black and white film makes this movie a perfect expression of the subconscious, fearful and malevolent. Definitely one that I hope would eventually make it to DVD, and one to own if you're into the classics of this genre.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Allusion or reality?

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
29 October 2004

In a gloomy 1900s mansion in Italy a famed pianist(Victor Francen)lives with his devoted nurse(Andrea King) and his faithful secretary(Peter Lorre). The wheelchair bound pianist is only able to use one hand to play. An antique dealer(Robert Alda)adapts a piece of music to be played with one hand to dull the musician's bitterness. Francen dies after a rolling tumble down a staircase leaving his fortune to his nurse. A couple of upset relatives arrive protesting the will; but this moves to the back burner when murder and attempted murder is committed by the dead pianist's severed hand. Plus the hand likes to play the piano which adds to the terror. Lorre nails the hand in a box; and even throws it in a fire after confrontations with the disembodied member. Local Commissario Castanio(J. Carrol Naish)investigates this creepy mystery. Lorre is outstanding in a passive demented way. His wrestling with the severed hand is hilarious. Max Steiner is responsible for the haunting score. Great black and white from Warner Brothers.

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13 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Wonderfully Suspenseful

Author: David (Handlinghandel) from NY, NY
7 September 2003

This movie has you on the edge of your seat. Its atmospheric direction is brilliant.

The cast, too, is excellent: Andrea King, a damsel in distress but a little icy and with kind of an edge (and a hairstyle resembling a headdress0; Robert Alda as the wry romantic lead figure. And of course, Peter Lorre -- neurotic as ever (in roles he was cast in.)

It's scary and has superb music and gorgeous photography.

It does have two flaws: the illogical central conceit of a disembodied hand and the obvious casting of Lorre. Yes, he is excellent, but wouldn't it be nice to see him the hero occasionally, instead of the delusional, pathetic villain?

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful performance by Peter Lorre

Author: TheFiendsThatPlagueThee from United States
15 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A wealthy piano player who can no longer play is surrounded by parasitic people who survive on his beneficence. He, though, is bitter because of his loss of ability to play his beloved piano. Shortly after his death, when the others are arguing over his will, a number of murders occur and the locals believe they are committed by the severed hand of the dead man.

The tale itself if fairly simple, though the ending is not totally clear until it occurs, which is a definite plus in this film. And there are good performances by Robert Alda, Andrea King and J. Carroll Naish. But it is Peter Lorre's performance that really makes this movie. In many ways similar to his role in "M" (though with a few significant differences), Peter Lorre brings a realness to the character of Hilary Cummins that few others could bring. I detested him, yet still felt some sympathy, which I think was necessary for this movie to work.

Overall, a lesser known movie that is worth a viewing.

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