Tuesday, February 23, 2016


A man is gunned down while running down a street, and dies on the operating table; the surgeon (Paul Lukather) notes that his hands were so strong, they had to be pried from a streetlight which he fell against. That same night, successful concert pianist James Stapleton is in a car accident and his hands are mangled beyond repair. Lukather removes the pianist's hands and replaces them with the hands of the dead thug. When Stapleton's overly protective sister (Joan Harvey) realizes what has happened, she becomes hysterical but she eventually comes around and she and the doctor don't tell Stapleton that his hands are not his. Unfortunately, he soon discovers on his own and can't bring himself to try and play again, which makes his gold digging girlfriend split. When he confronts her, he accidentally sets her place on fire, killing her. This is just his first act of revenge, and wait until he discovers that his sister is dating his surgeon!

This is a variation on the much-adapted French novel "The Hands of Orlac"; the 1935 MAD LOVE with Peter Lorre is the one to beat. This does not beat it, but B-movie fans may like it for its use of shadows and low angle shots. Horror fans will not be impressed by the lack of gore, though tension is generally kept high—except in the talky two-shots that make up much of the middle of the movie. It's disappointing that characters are not developed very well—it would seem to be a no-brainer to do something with the potential for incestuous feelings between the pianist and his sister, but it's left there for the audience to do the heavy lifting, if so inclined. Stapleton (known later in his career as James Noah; pictured above with Harvey and Lukather behind him) is good as the high-strung pianist, and the climax with the central triangle on stage at a concert plays out nicely. The other actors range from so-so to bad, but it's fun to see a young Sally Kellerman in a very small role. [DVD]

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