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Hands of a Stranger
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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Too bad they weren't the hands of a Chiropractor!

6/10
Author: michaeldukey2000 from United States
24 July 2007

I remember seeing this late at night in the mid sixties on Chiller theater and it really creeped me out so I was anxious to check it out again when it showed up at the public domain bargain bin section. It doesn't really hold up that well but I can see a why it stuck in my mind in a few well shot and staged scenes.

Of the four filmed versions of The Hands Of Orlac (Four and a half if you count sections of Oliver Stones flop The Hand) this one comes in at dead last. It's not awful but it doesn't hold a candle to in inventiveness and weirdness of the Peter Lorre Version Mad Love and it doesn't have the silliness and fast pace of the Mel Ferrer ,Christopher Lee Version The Hands Of Orlac. As noted by others this doesn't credit orlac at all . Although there are marked difference between all of the versions it doesn't take a genius to figure where the story came from even though it ends differently.

I liked the opening and the scenes at the carnival and of course nurse Irish McCalla (Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle)isn't hard to look at. Juvenile actor Barry Gordon is sympathetic without being annoying like many child actors and Paul Lukather (who still works) has enough bravado to carry him through the long winded and stilted episodes of prose.

If you're a horror completist and don't expect much or if you're into B-movie noir you might give this a glance otherwise stick to the Karl Freund version Mad Love. You can't beat Peter Lorre on a tirade anyway.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Daft but entertaining

7/10
Author: Andy McGregor (chaypher@hotmail.com) from United Kingdom
21 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All too familiar old story : guy's hands have made him a successful pianist, guy is in a car-crash, guy wakes up to discover he has lost his hands, guy loses his selfish girlfriend, op doc transplants someone else's hands (a stranger's perhaps?), guy's sister falls for the op doc, guy discovers they were the hands of a murderer, guy loses the ability to play piano, guy resents op doc, guy's sister also resents op doc, guy's sister breaks up with op doc, guy goes a bit mad, guy kills a few folk himself, guy tries to kill op doc in revenge, guy taken out in a meaningless and futile ending, we all feel sorry for guy's sister.

Even though this movie is slow and very dialogue heavy, I find it pretty entertaining. Rather than terrible performances or "over-acting" as someone put it, I find the animated acting styles suit the mood and tone of the movie. There are few action sequences so I feel the cast compensate for this to some degree. The camera work, directing and lighting deserve honourable plaudits here; any sound problems I'm fairly forgiving with.

The premise and plot of the movie may be pretty daft but it is delivered with enough earnestness to make this halfway convincing. Overall - pretty watchable time killer.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not As Good As Earlier Versions

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
3 September 2012

Hands of a Stranger (1962)

** (out of 4)

Low-budget remake of THE HANDS OF ORLAC from the one and only Allied Artists. As in the numerous earlier versions, a concert pianist (James Stapleton) loses his hands in a car wreck so a doctor (Paul Lukather) gives him the hands of someone else. Soon the pianist begins to lose his mind and goes around killing several people. Is it the new hands or is something else going on? HANDS OF A STRANGER really doesn't improve on any of the earlier versions of this story and in the end the film is just way too talky and doesn't feature enough energy or excitement. For a horror film from 1962 I was a little surprised to see how much it was lacking in regards to the horror elements. The death scenes are all rather tame and there were a few times where you couldn't even tell that he killed the people until later in the film when it was mentioned that they were dead. The biggest problem, however, is the fact that there's just way too much talking going on and it just makes the film drag along to a point where you just grow tired of everything going on. The performances are also all over the place but I thought Lukather and Stapleton were good in their parts. The one thing I did like is how the film never really made it clear if the hands were doing the killing or if it was the actual person just mentally unstable from not being a concert pianist anymore. Still, with such better films out there it's hard to recommend this to anyone other than those who want to see every version.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Doctor's Hubris

6/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
25 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This low budget Allied Artists thriller boasts some very unique camera work and a nice and edgy performance as a Van Cliburn like concert pianist whose hands become horribly mangled in a car crash by Paul Lukather.

The film opens with someone killing and then being killed and it's those hands that are grafted on to Lukather when he's brought into the hospital. James Stapleton plays the surgeon whose hubris leads him to using Lukather as an experimental guinea pig for a new surgical transplant technique.

Who knows if eventually it might have worked, but imagine asking Van Cliburn to put his career on hold around this time for several years. Lukather is not that patient and several fatalities result because of that, most tragically the death of child prodigy Barry Gordon.

Though the film holds up pretty well for such a low budget product with limited production values in 1962 no one would have mistaken the lead for anyone else other than Van Cliburn. That dimension is lost to today's generation.

Doesn't mean they can't enjoy a good low budget shocker.

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Concert pianist wakes up from an accident with new hands

5/10
Author: msroz from United States
7 April 2017

"Hands of a Stranger" (1962) is rated about right by IMDb voters at 5.2. It is a low average movie because it tends to talkiness and several pedestrian staged conversations. But it's still a worthwhile version of this familiar story, even if not coming close to others. What it has going for it are three things. The first is a full-blooded music score that's highly emotional and melodramatic. It's by Richard LaSalle. He might just be an underrated composer because his career began in 1958 and he worked on lesser movies. Second, the actors are intense, directed to be intense, and this adds a lot of interest. Third, there's a sequence in a carnival that's really good. The direction does at a few times like that come through with interesting staging.

I'd class the film less as a horror story and much more as a late noir inasmuch as it focuses on character, the hangup of the pianist and the torn moral position of the surgeon on the case. The two main actors, Paul Lukather and James Noah went on to do a lot of roles on TV series. Sally Kellerman has a small part.

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Pretty Good Version of Orlac

6/10
Author: Peppermint Twisted from United States
19 October 2016

Hands of a Stranger is nothing more than another version of "Hands of Orlac" (1924/1960). It's a pretty good version of the story.

A murderer dies and concert pianist looses his hands in a car wreck around the same time frame. A policeman is still solving the case of the murderer and the pianist's surgeon has given him the murderers hands. Somehow the hands have a mind of their own and murders people while the pianist seems to black out or block out in a way as he takes on the personality of the murderer and the murders taking place from his new hands.

it's odd but still makes for a decent horror story.

6.5/10

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Solid psychological drama

6/10
Author: opieandy-1 from United States
8 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This 1962 movie felt like a cross between a soap opera a made-for-TV movie or Perry Mason episode in its production values and musical score, but that's true of many movies of this era. Despite the apparent low budget, the movie provides intriguing if not compelling drama as we watch the world-class pianist in a classic man vs. himself struggle after the replacement of his hands following an accident.

What happened to James Noah? He has features of Elvis and Jack Lord and I thought he did a fine job in this role. His acting career, such as it was, went on hold for 20+ years after 1966. Odd.

I thought the pacing was unnecessarily slow in some places, but again, that's somewhat characteristic of the era. This film was close to a 7 for me but didn't quite have the it factor to get it there. Still, a solid film.

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Return of a Theme with Under-known Actor

5/10
Author: ccbc from Nelson, BC
9 October 2015

The plot is very standard here. If you have seen The Beast With Five Fingers, The Hands of Orloff/Mad Love, or even the Michael Cain vehicle, The Hand, you know what this is about: guy gets new hands sewn onto his wrists, gets an itch to go out and strangle pe0oople . (This is a twist on the Eyes Of A Murderer concept, which may be reviewed other places. One difference: these are not necessarily the hands of a murderer being grafted onto the gifted pianist's wrists, in fact we never do learn whose hands these were -- but murder ensues nonetheless. So the question is: why watch this? For me, the interest was with the young actor (denied lead billing) and the men's incredibly greasy hairdos. Leaving hair for another day, we have James Stapleton who reminded me of a young Ray Liotta, but (as another reviewer perceptively noted) was directed as Hurd Hatfield. Too bad. One or two Liotta humorless laughs and we would have had an Academy performance. Such is the danger of being born between two film concepts, Hatfield and Liotta. Let this be a warning to would-be thespians: is now your time? Or should you go back to that comfortable barista job? (James Stapleton changed his stage name to James Noah. He got work for years, but not much and I think, given the proper role, could have been dynamite.)

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shiny eye shadow, bad script, bad acting a distraction

5/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
2 September 2012

After a horrible car accident, a concert pianist's hands are transplanted and he becomes a monster in "Hands of a Stranger," a 1962 film starring Paul Lukather, James Stapleton, and Joan Harvey.

Somewhat based on the often remade "Hands of Dr. Orlac," Stapleton plays Vernon Paris, a gifted pianist. The cab he is in has an accident, and his hands are mangled. A surgeon (Lukather) decides to try a hands transplant, taking hands from a corpse brought in a couple of hours earlier. When the bandages come off and Vernon realizes they're not his hands, he basically flips out and goes on a killing spree. A couple of times, he doesn't know his own strength and people end up dead. Then he starts deliberately killing.

Unlike Mad Love, where we know the transplanted hands are those of a killer, we never do learn the identity of Vernon's new hands. As for Vernon, I guess we just assume for some reason he goes nuts. His hands are ruined, the doctor gives him a chance to continue his career, and he's furious with everyone involved and seeks revenge.

Directed by Newt Arnold, this is a fairly atrocious film. For one thing, the eye makeup and use of a shiny eye shadow used to draw light is obvious. On Stapleton, who has effete features, it looks ridiculous. The dialogue is mind-bogglingly dense and the images in the film are sledge-hammer obvious, focusing on hands, hands, hands.

The acting - I imagine most of these poor souls did the best they could under the circumstances. Joan Harvey is so over the top screaming and fake crying that she's practically on the ceiling. In contrast, Stapleton's face and voice remain completely unchanged throughout the movie. Paul Lukather, whose voice is famous because of all the video games he's done, had a very distinguished career in all mediums and tries to strike a balance. But what could he do talking about beauty and science and mankind all the time.

If you want to watch it, be advised and just get a kick out of it.

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Prolix,affected dialog slows this picture down to a crawl

5/10
Author: lemon_magic from Wavy Wheat, Nebraska
30 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie as part of one of those 50 pack public domain DVD collections, which means I paid something like 50 cents for the privilege of viewing it. Well, it's not like I want my 50 cents back, but this was a frustrating film.

There's a good looking, reasonably talented cast at work here (although Lukather comes across as a bit of a one-note stone face), some crisp black and white photography that makes it easy to see what's going on in any given scene...even if the actual art direction is risible. (You've never seen so many ham-handed (hah) attempts at visual metaphor and symbolism.) There's even a decent (if somewhat dated) premise to drive the story.

But the screenplay loads the actors down with several long tons of the most affected, mannered dialog this side of an Ed Wood Jr. film, and the resulting tar pit of inaction just kills any forward momentum the story might develop. It's the kind of dialog that reads on paper much better than it works in the mouth of live actors, and there's just way too much of it. Also, some of the line readings are weird - the actors apparently devoted so much energy to memorizing and delivering their page-long sentences that they couldn't spare any to figure out where to pause, or take a breath. (I fault the director for this).

It's as if someone locked themselves in a room with the entire oeuvre of psychological thrillers and noir styled movies from the last 20 years, watched them all straight through, learned all the wrong lessons,and went right out to make a movie. (Although I understand this is actually a remake of sorts of a particular earlier film.)

"Hands of A Stranger" isn't all that bad, mind you. The people who made it tried so hard to be intense and expressionistic and psychologically subterranean that they probably gave themselves mental hernias, and you can't help but enjoy the results...in the same way you would enjoy a high school version of "The Crucible".

Based on the results here, I wouldn't balk at watching another movie with this director or this case, but I also don't imagine I would be in a big hurry to do so.

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