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Delightful hokum from the early sixties and the directorial seat of Herbert Strock. A space flight to the moon brings back the dead body of a man who warns his space station to kill him...and the thing that has partially possessed his body. The man is literally blown to bits on his return flight home, but one lone appendage happens to make it intact to the beaches of California. That's right.....THIS is the Crawling Hand! Two teenagers, very well-versed in science and knowing about these manned flights to the moon, come across the hand. Rod Lauren as a teenaged scientist takes the hand home for scientific glory, but soon becomes a pawn in the hand's quest for murder and body possession. This film has many faults and you will laugh your hands off(okay it's a cheap pun) at the film's bad acting, cheap sets, and incredibly inept scientific logic. But make no mistake....this is a fun film to watch and has a lot of charm. The make-up of the people strangled by the hand is pretty chilling and Allison Hayes and Alan Hale(the Skipper) have some fun in their roles. One scene that really stands out is a hand's on strangle of a soda shop owner with a juke box playing menacingly in the backdrop. I'm sure some statement of misbegotten youth was being made.
MAN!! This movie is the cheese. It's about a astronaut who is taken over by an unknown force and goes mad in space. He begs his friends down on Earth to push the red button and blow him up. So they do so. However, his hand survives the blast and starts killing people. Though, it horrifies his girlfriend, a med student finds it and takes it home. It kills his landlady, and then takes him over. The kid starts acting weird and kills people and attempts to kill the crusty old man who says "No dancing, not allowed!" in his restaurant. The hand is picked clean by cats but then it is attempted to be shipped away and....Well....let's just say never trust the delivery man. This really scared me as kid.
Now here's what cheap sci-fi teen horror is all about, and it's from AIP, of course! Astronaut is killed in space while possessed by an evil alien force, but somehow his severed arm makes its way to earth, still hosting the alien, and begins a killing spree. If that's not good enough, you've got troubled teens, two proto-X-Files scientists tracking the hand, a sublimely weird malt-shop assault scene, and the crawling arm's demise comes via a pack of stray cats! Classic trash from start to finish!
This is a pretty typical piece of Sci-Fi tripe of the late 50's-early 60's
period. With the assistence of the Skipper (Yep, Alan Hale) two
track down a rougue body part that takes over the mind of a local teen,
Paul. The hand controls him through some "cosmic force" that goes
unexplained. The hand/arm strangles the poor lad's toadlike landlady
taking over his mind. Paul is less successful in killing people, as he
to kill both a sour soda shop keeper and his Swedish girlfriend.
Will Paul be able to defeat his foe? Or will he need the help of alley cats? "Dames like this ALWAYS got beer around".
This is not a great movie. It's definitely a B movie. It was clearly done
on a low budget, belongs to a generally unremarkable genre, and has a plot
that leaves much to be desired. For all that, it's actually not nearly as
bad as would be expected.
The major premise (that in space there is some kind of immateriel life form that possesses human flesh and wants to kill people) is obscurely bogus, yes, but many much better movies are open to the same criticism. SpiderMan's premise is hardly more realistic, for example, but that is a major motion picture and gets very good reviews.
Then there's the plot. Sure, it's a little thin, but the movie does *have* a discernible plot (not something you can take for granted in a B-grade movie), and what is more, the plot is quite coherent. You do not find yourself confused part-way through about what is going on, which of the people on the screen are from which group (good guys, bad guys, et cetera), or any of the other vagaries that often haunt the plots of lousy movies. The plot isn't deep, but as far as it goes it is solid.
The acting, moreover, is not bad. I did not notice a single instance of noticeably poor acting. Not that anyone's going to win any awards for the acting in this movie, but they don't do anything to break all pretenses of mimesis and make you want to scream at the actors, either. This is fairly unusual, especially for such an obviously low-budget flick, and extra-especially in the horror genre. You expect, in a movie of this sort, to be disgusted when actors stutter, scream at the wrong times, leave long pauses between lines, and have wooden, unlifelike expressions on their faces. I didn't notice any of that, unless you count characters who were at the time possessed by the alien life form, and that was clearly a deliberate charactarization of the menace as quirkily unhuman.
As for the writing, I've seen worse. The characters were mostly flat and static, but horror movies seldom make any pretenses about having round, dynamic characters. Only a couple of the characters were really obvious stereotypes (notably, the scientists' boss and the deputy).
Probably the worst thing about this movie is that the ending quite obviously left things wide open for a sequel.
One of my guilty pleasures is watching 50s and 60s schlock horror
films. So, when I found this DVD listed on Netflix, it seemed like a
natural choice for me! Well, after having seen it, I can happily report
that it was every bit as bad as I expected--meaning that it was fun to
sit and laugh at the ineptness of this film.
The movie begins with hearing that the space program has once again lost contact with one of their ships returning from the moon. They assume the astronauts are dead but don't know why. Then, suddenly, one of the men appears on the view screen. Oddly, he now has eyes like a raccoon or Robert Downey and he is screaming about having an urge to kill. He begs the people on Earth to push the self-destruct button before the ship can return and so naturally they do(!).
Later, some horny teens are at the beach and bits and pieces of the ship are scattered about--including a human arm that naturally made it through the atmosphere. In such a case like this, what would you do? Yep,...take the arm home and stick it on a shelf!! And, since this is a low-budget horror film the arm comes to life and begins to kill--though how a disembodied arm can so easily find people (even though it's missing eyes and ears) is beyond me. And, when it fails to kill our dumb hero (the one who brought it home), he, too, becomes a raccoon-eyed maniac!
The film is dumb but what makes it worse is that again and again, scenes were not re-shot even though they had obvious mistakes. My favorite was when the hero woke up in the back of an ambulance. When he saw the corpse next to him, he screamed AND then the corpse blinked its eyes!! Also, this same lady was seen breathing at one point AFTER she died! So my recommendation is that if you like good film, keep looking. If you like schlock and could use a laugh, give this one a try.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Q: What do you get when you bring together this cast: Alan Hale, Jr.
(Skipper from "Gilligan's Island"), Kent Taylor (1950s-60s "B" star who
once worked with Mae West), Peter Breck (volatile actor from "The Big
Valley"), Allison Hayes (title role in "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman"),
Rod Lauren (wannabe teen idol from the early 1960s with almost no
acting talent), Arline Judge (aging, washed-up actress from the 1930s
and 1940s), and Richard Arlen (old, tired, and faded early 1930s
leading man)? A: You get "The Crawling Hand", and what an enjoyable
mess it is. Directed by 50s sci-fi veteran Herbert L. Strock, this
movie will either leave you dumbstruck or rolling on the floor with
I've commented on "Disembodied Head Movies", so I'll write about this "Disembodied Hand Movie". Breck and Taylor are project managers for a "Space Operations" moon mission that goes bad when the astronaut gets very wacky and grows black makeup around his eyes. For safety reasons, Taylor has to blow up the spaceship and the astronaut, causing great anxiety to Arlen, who plays the head of "Space Operations". Breck spends the tense final moments of the mission yelling, throwing things, and smoking cigarettes. The explosion of the spacecraft results in the astronaut's disconnected hand landing on a California beach, where it is discovered by college student Lauren and his girlfriend (Sirry Steffen). I've always thought the hand looks pretty good, considering it has experienced a spacecraft explosion and fiery re-entry into the earth's atmosphere; it isn't even singed!
Lauren, being a naïve kid, takes the hand home instead of notifying authorities. In short order, the hand strangles Lauren's landlady (Judge, who has one of the funniest death scenes ever), and tries to strangle Lauren, transferring the hand's "strangler curse"or whateverto him. Breck and Taylor arrive in town, and spend the rest of the film battling the local Sheriff (Hale) while Lauren periodically goes crazy. The hand meets its ultimate demise in a salvage yard where it's promptly eaten by stray cats.
Although there have been other "Disembodied Hand" movies ("Hands of a Stranger" comes to mind), this one is in a league of its own. Space travel, romance, grisly murders, bad acting, bad makeup, very dated technology, goofy "pop" music, a once-in-a-lifetime cast, and unintentionally funny situations make this film quite an experience. Breck, Hale, and Arlen all overact so outrageously that it's hard to decide which one is worst while Taylor and Hayes are both quite good. The best scene has two really dopey paramedics loading Judge's body on a gurney before they search the poor lady's house for a cold can of beer! It isn't something to watch if you're looking for a good movie, but if you like early 1960s campy sci-fi/horror, it's a must-see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is exactly the kind of low budget laugh fest that has fans of
Fifties/Sixties schlock in Nirvana. A cadre of random b-movie
superstars, all taking the whole absurd premise 110% seriously, a
classic sci-fi/horror movie idea of disembodied body parts going on a
rampage, cheap jack production, and the rocking awesomeness of "The
Bird's The Word" by The Rivingtons (heard several times during the
show). That's the precursor to the even more incredible "Surfin' Bird"
by The Trashmen, so I'll have to give the producers thumbs up for good
taste in music.
An astronaut on his way back from the moon is possessed by...something. Something which is never explained, but it gives him a bad case of excess eyeliner. He begs mission control to blow up him and his spaceship, by pressing the red button (if I can quote Daffy Duck, "No! Not the wed button!") and they do so. The Head of the space agency deals with the loss of his colleague the only way that guys in bad potboilers from the 1950's can: he throws stuff and smokes a lot of cigarettes.
Meanwhile, the astronaut's shredded hand and lower arm has somehow survived burning up in the atmosphere, and lands on a California beach, where budding med student Paul and his Swedish exchange student girlfriend find it. (What is it about foreign exchange student girlfriends in these cheap movies? THE GIANT GILA MONSTER has a French exchange student girlfriend. I guess if you hire a low-cost foreign actress looking to "break into the biz" you have to turn her into a foreign exchange student to have her presence there make any kind of sense.) Paul is a naughty boy and takes the severed arm home for further study. Once there, it promptly possesses him and causes him to kill his landlady.
Then, guys from the Space agency show up in town, investigating the possible rogue hand. Alan Hale, the local Sheriff, wants them to stop putting their noses where they don't belong in his investigation. Can they stop the murderous Paul before it's too late? This whole thing is a riot, and appropriately, was covered by the gang at Mystery Science Theatre 3000. That version will cost you money to see, but the original version (thanks to the Public Domain) is free for streaming here online. At that price (nothing) it is certainly worth a watch. Grab the popcorn and turn off your brain.
Oh, and the ending is one of those classic "The End?" cop-outs so favored by 1950's sci-fi B-movies. Okay, they don't actually use the question mark there, but it's implied. I guarantee you will get some yucks out of this film.
In NASA, the technician Steve Curan (Peter Breck) and Dr. Max Weitzberg
(Kent Taylor) lose contact with a spacecraft returning from the moon
and they assume that the astronauts have died. Out of the blue, one of
them appears in the monitor and asks to people destroy the ship, and
Dr. Weitzberg pushes a button and explodes the spacecraft.
Meanwhile the medical student Paul Lawrence (Rod Lauren) goes to the beach with his girlfriend Donna (Allison Hayes) and they find the severed arm of one astronaut. Later Paul returns to the beach and brings the arm as a sort of souvenir. The arm mysteriously comes to life and kills his landlord. Further the alien in the hand occasionally takes over his brain and he begins the prime suspect of Sheriff Townsend (Alan Hale) of being the killer in town.
The lame "The Crawling Hand" is so awful that becomes very entertaining and even a cult movie. The story is stupid; the lead character is dumb; the acting and direction are terrible. There are many funny things, like the scientist blowing up the spacecraft after the request of an ill astronaut, but maybe the best is when Paul Lawrence brings the severed arm home and puts it on the shelve like a trophy. In the end, who said that Ed Wood is the worst director of all time? My vote is three.
Title (Brazil): Not Available on DVD or Blu-Ray
THE CRAWLING HAND looks like something straight out of the 1950s, when TV was beginning to upset the Hollywood applecart, forcing the major studios to look for new angles and gimmicks (Todd A-O, Cinemascope, VistaVision, Cinerama, 3-D, stereo sound, and big-budget color remakes of old films) and small indie directors like Ed Wood were having a field day turning out tons of drive-in drivel. HAND is about a dead astronauts's severed hand seeking revenge on the living. Yowsa! How's that for a plot! In some scenes, you can actually spot the uncredited actor whose hand is doing the crawling. Considering HAND is from 1963, I am a little surprised as drive-ins by then were on the wane and no self-respecting movie house would have been likely to show this. It is a terrible, wooden movie, with poverty-row sets, little or no action, a virtually nonexistent script, bad music, uncorrected sound and so on. But ... for true film buffs, we get to see a very young Peter "Big Valley" Breck, veteran leading men Kent Taylor and Tris "King of the Rocketmen" Coffin, a pre-"Gilligan's Island" Alan Hale and the alluring Alison "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" Hayes. A rather unusual cast for a no-budget movie. I guess they were taking what they could get in the dawning era of color TV and the collapse of the studio system.
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