October 25, 2013
The Beast With Five Fingers (1946)
Directed by Robert Florey
We are finally starting to get into some of the more intriguing plots and the more interesting—or goofiest, perhaps—villains. The disembodied hand of a deceased concert pianist goes around attacking those staying at the villa, those fighting over the estate and inheritance of the pianist himself. Florey does a good job of concealing whether or not the hand was real or only the figment of the imagination of Hilary, Peter Lorre’s character.
All of the scenes where the hand is walking around without a body attached but have been exhilarating for audiences at this time. The concept of blocking out the whole of the person except for part of their body is some pretty stellar special effects for the mid-40s.
It doesn’t hurt that we get to hear that wondrously creepy voice of Lorre’s, as well. His voice may have been more famous than the man attached to it, but, regardless, Peter Lorre was a staple for creepy, atmospheric horror films. And, really, this one was no different. With a title like that, one would expect a little more cheese, but what the audience receives envelops more atmosphere and mood, more in the vein of Mario Bava.
This is a fun little film and one that actually does rise to the challenge of making the disembodied hand idea relatively frightening.