Tag Archives: Frankenstein

Let’s Give a Big Hand to Orlac

Movie night!

We think of Hammer Films and we think of Dracula and Frankenstein and strawberry-red blood dripping on otherwise pristine sets in sunglass-required lighting that comes from everywhere and nowhere in particular. But even as these money-making machines were being crafted, Shepperton Studios was cranking a bunch of other films just as interesting…if not as lucrative.

This is one of them. THE HANDS OF ORLAC (1960), directed by Edmond T. Gréville, is another retelling of the transplanted hands saga and not the best of that gruesome genre. That dubious award would go to Peter Lorre’s MAD LOVE (1935) in my book.

But THE HANDS OF ORLAC is a pretty entertaining flick. It is encumbered by a somnambulant performance by Mel Ferrer, but it features a nice turn by Christopher Lee as a blackmailing stage magician. Lee’s character shrieks a ridiculous wild laugh (always wisely off-camera) that sounds like a cross between Snidely Whiplash and the happily surreal cackle preceding the Ventures’ “Wipe Out,” (which, I understand was inspired by one of the Maddox Brothers). Whew, that last sentence should give everyone fun things to google.

Even better than Mr. Lee’s performance are the ladies in the flick. I thought I had never heard of Lucile Saint-Simon before, but I see that she’s also in a blade-filled Italian giallo from 1963; THE VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG (more tamely released in the US as HORROR CASTLE), directed by sanguinary maestro Antonio Margheriti and also featuring a murderous Christopher Lee. I remember being moderately engaged by the flick a few years ago, but I’m gonna have to watch it again now. Ms. Saint-Simon is sympathetic and rocks her negligee, though the backlighting in this effort is insufficient to satisfy my more demanding geezer cineastes. Dany Carrel, however, more than makes up for that technical deficiency. Her night club act with Chris Lee is eye-popping…literally. The white-haired guys in the audience are dropping their monocles and checking their pacemakers.

And in addition to those actors, a small appearance by the ubiquitous Donald Pleasence provides a coup de gross for the evening.

The ending ties things up in a way-too-convenient way. You might call it a deux-et-manicure copout.

But I liked it.

Movie Trailer Speak – Whatta Job!

Eureka!

Imagine spending your day uttering deathless prose like;

–“Crashing into this world of horror, a beautiful woman and three adventurers dare to challenge the unknown! A world where life and love are ruled by…THE CYCLOPS!”

Playing Ed McMahon to the Cyclops. That’s a serious gig.

In my 60’s, I’ve finally found the career for which I was meant; to enlighten the world by explaining;

–“Here is nature gone mad, revealing a world of terror – a world mastered by a monstrous mutation – the spawn of nuclear fury!”

Sweet.

Or how ‘bout crooning;

–“Here is a weird suspense-filled journey that hurdles you into the most frightening adventure the screen has ever shown!”

I should have been born about 1920. I would have been just the right age to do the impassioned voice-overs for the trailers of monster/sci-fi flicks in the 1950’s and introduce a nation of enthralled viewers to;

–“Whit Bissell…demonic as Professor Frankenstein…who creates out of human parts the most terrifying creature to walk the Earth today!”

Or positing out loud the titillating possibility of;

–“Transferring a young girl’s love into terrifying bloodlust!”

I’m so there.

AND you get paid for it.

AND you get to watch the flicks.

“…challenge the unknown!”, “…the spawn of nuclear fury!”, “…weird suspense-filled journey…”, “…human parts…”, “…terrifying bloodlust!”

The words are positively Shakespearean, if Shakespeare had written under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust…and needed to pick up some quick rent money.

Whatta job!

Sigh.