The Crawling Hand

Year Of Release: 1958
Running Time: 84 Minutes
DVD Released By: Rhino Home Video
Directed By: Herbert L. Strock
Writing Credits: Joseph Cranston, Bill Idelson, Herbert L. Strock, Robert M. Young
Filming Location: Unknown

Starring: Peter Breck, Kent Taylor, Rod Lauren, Alan Hale Jr., Allison Hayes, Sirry Steffen, Arline Judge, Richard Arlen, Beverly Lunsford, Syd Saylor

Tagline: Five Fingers Of Death!

Alternate Titles:
The Creeping Hand (1963)
Don't Cry Wolf (1963)
Tomorrow You Die (1963)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Syd Taylor, who played The Malt Shop Owner, in this film, appeared in no less than three hundred and eighteen films between 1926 and 1963.  He also appeared in several television shows including Dragnet, Maverick, and Perry Mason.  The crawling hand was his last film.  He died of a heart attack on December 21, 1962 in Hollywood, California.  In addition to Syd Taylor, he was credited under the names Leo Sailor, Sid Sailor, Sid Saylor.  His birth name was Leo Lailor.




Cast Of Characters
Steve Curan: Overacting is this guy's strong suit.  He's one of the big guys at the space agency.  He's lost two astronauts now and every time something like this happens he goes into an overacting frenzy.  He finally calms down about two-thirds of the way through the film, but still, even William Shatner couldn't overact like this guy.

Dr. Max Weitzberg: He's a scientist who works with Steve to figure out what's going on and what happened to the astronaut.  He figures out the whole thing about detecting cosmic rays and what not.  He's a smart guy, but I don't think he'd be a whole lot of fun at a party.

Paul Lawrence: This guy is just a flat out dork.  He finds an arm on the beach and keeps it to himself.  He has a multitude of chances throughout the movie to tell people what's going on and yet he refuses to do so.  I was really hoping the hand would kill him eventually.  Sadly though, it didn't.

Marta Farnstrom: She's the daughter of some Swedish biology professor.  Now you'd think that having grown up in Sweden, she'd have a Swedish accent.  Well, sometimes she does, and sometimes she doesn't.  Sometimes there's just a hint of one, and sometimes it's really thick.  I don't think she'll be winning any oscar's for this film.

Sheriff Townsend: Does this man look familiar to you?  He should.  He was the skipper on Gilligan's island.  How cool is that?  I didn't even know he was in this movie.  He plays the part of the tough but honest and caring sheriff.  He's not a bad cop, but his deputy should be handing out parking tickets in Mayberry.

Malt Shop Owner: This guy didn't have that big of a part in this movie.  He's the kooky and ever so quirky malt shop owner.  They didn't even give him a name.  I'm not sure what his real purpose in this movie was, but I couldn't pass up a chance to throw a screenshot like this in my review.




The Plot

An astronaut returning from space runs out of oxygen, but somehow manages to stay alive for another twenty minutes.  When he makes visual contact with mission control however, he's not the same person they once knew.  Something has happened to him, and he begs them to press the button that will destroy the rocket before it has a chance to return to earth.  The rocket is destroyed, but his severed arm falls to earth, where it's discovered by a college student who decides to take it home without reporting it to anyone, so that he can study it on his own.  Unbeknownst to him however, the arm is infected with an alien life force which it acquired from being bombarded with cosmic rays.  The arm knows only one thing.  It must kill.  Will Paul and the scientists be able to stop the crawling hand in time?  Will Marta ever remember her lines?  Will the malt shop owner ever get a real name?  Let's watch and see...




What The Hell???
1. Well, I'd just like you all to know before I start that I'm doing this review on a totally clean keyboard. I toke it all apart and cleaned the begeezers out of it this afternoon.  This will also be the first review that I use my new video card, an MSI Geforce ti4400 to do the video capture.  The device I had used previously was a Dazzle 80 USB device, but it would drop frames while recording.  The video in on my new video card hasn't dropped a single frame in any of my test runs.  Anyway, that said, let's get on with this thing.  The opening credits just ran, and I can already tell, this one's gonna be a doozie.  The credits open with an astronaut looking out a viewport.  Outside the viewport, we see stars and the credits.  The astronaut isn't moving much and he's got his arm out to the side for some reason.  Maybe I'll get lucky and a big monster will come by and eat him soon.  Then again, since the big monster in this movie is a crawling hand, presumably this guy's, I doubt that will happen.
2.  Apparently, this astronaut is the second man we sent to the moon, but he's having problems just like apparently the first one did.  Steve and Donna are back at the control center being all miserable over the fact that they're about to lose another astronaut.  Steve is really overacting it here.  By the way, the sound sucks real bad on this DVD.  Rhino really needs to do a better job mastering these things.
3. Steve is ranting now about how everything on the flight was perfect.  What's this?  They thought the astronaut was dead, but he's still kinda alive.  He just showed up on the viewscreen.  They have visual contact with him and the astronaut is ranting on about killing and what not.  He looks like he's been shooting heroin for three weeks straight.  He's pretty messed up.  He's ranting on and on about killing and he wants them to push the red button which will blow up the space craft and kill him.  They pushed the button, but I'm wondering how they knew which one was the red one?  I mean, everything is in black and white!
4.  Steve and Dr. Max are talking about the astronaut now and discussing how he could have managed to survive without oxygen for twenty minutes.  Dr. Max thinks that there was something on the ship with the astronaut keeping him alive.  Some kind of life form. He's rambling on and on with his theories now and Steve looks confused and a little bored.  Much the way I'm feeling right now.  God the sound sucks on this movie.

5. Ok now we're at the malt shop.  Patsy, the sheriff's daughter and her friend Marta are talking about this boy one of them hooked up with, while a crotchety old man walks around the joint serving malts.  He tells them to enjoy, for tomorrow they shall die.  Seems he saw a giant fireball the previous night in the sky.  For those of you who have been paying attention, that would be the rocket ship that the ground control blew up.  Then this guy they had been talking about, Paul, comes into the malt shop to pick up Marta.  There's about a four or five line exchange here between Marta and Paul.  This is the most god awful thing I think I've ever seen.  It's even worse than the cop reading his lines off his hand in Blood Feast.  Why you may ask?  Well, whoever was holding the cue cards for this girl was not standing behind Paul.  You remember Paul don't you?  That's the guy Marta's supposed to be talking to.  So what's the effect of all this?  Well, the whole time Marta's talking to paul, she's looking about thirty degrees away from him, reading her cards from what looks like the other side of the room.  She never looks directly at him while they're talking to each other.  Now if she was blind or something I'd expect that, but jeez, this is just ridiculous.

6. The old guy who runs the joint, stops Paul on the way out and asks him what they're saying on the campus about the explosion last night.  Paul asks him if he's still scared of flying saucers.  Now tell me something.  How come the guy who runs the malt shop is smart enough to be scared about what happened in the sky last night, but no one else is?  I'll bet that later on he'll even warn someone about some danger or something and they'll ignore him and end up dead.  I've seen this a thousand times.  Either that or he'll die in a bizarre milkshake machine accident.  Never can tell when they're gonna throw you a curve ball in one of these B-Movies now can you?
7.  Uh, oh.  Paul and Marta are at the beach now.  Two young lovers on the beach.  Where have I seen this before?  Oh yeah, Blood Feast, and Attack of the Giant Leeches, and god knows how many other movies.  Ok, turns out Marta is a Swedish girl.  I just found this out.  See I just found this out because not only did they say it, but after they said it, all of a sudden she had a Swedish accent.  At least for one or two lines, and then it disappeared again.  Something's not right here.

8.  So they splash around in the water a bit and then come running back up the beach to towel off.  Paul says he wants to marry her and she laughs and goes running off with Paul in hot pursuit.  Paul reaches down and trips her so she falls down in the sand.  There's a bad edit here.  When he trips her, apparently he hurt her because she said "Ow!" but then there's a super quick cut to a close up of her face as she's laying in the sand and she's laughing like she's having a great old time.  At least, she was laughing until she looked up and saw the severed arm of the dead astronaut laying on the beach.  Jeez, what a mood killer huh?  Seeing that must have really scared the hell out of her.  In fact, it not only scared the hell out of her, but it scared the Swedish accent right back into her.  Man this is weird.

9. Paul wants to take the arm and put it in the trunk of his car.  He suspects what it is but Marta doesn't want anything to do with it and makes him leave it there.  She thinks there was a murder or something.  Considering that Dr. Max pressed the button that killed the guy, I guess there kinda was.
10. Nighttime now and Paul heads back to the beach to look for the severed arm.  It's not really a hand so to speak because it was severed from the elbow down.  He spotted it now and picked it up.  What he didn't spot was that it was twitching right before he approached it.  I'm wondering at this point why he didn't just report it to the authorities.  I'm also wondering why he took it home with him and hid it.  What a creep.
11. Steve and Dr. Max are talking in his lab now.  Steve is seriously overacting again.  Dr. Max is explaining to Steve how this rat he was exposed to cosmic rays when they sent him up in one of the first unmanned space craft.  Now the rat has exceptional mental abilities and he's emitting some kind of cosmic radiation that can be measured.  Pretty cool huh?
12.  When Paul brought the arm back. he stuck it on a shelf in the pantry behind some jars of jelly and such.  The arm started twitching and knocked some of the jars off the shelf, breaking them.  Now Paul was just renting a room in this house.  The landlady heard the jars breaking and went to clean up the mess.  She thought Paul or maybe the cat did it.  She packs heat too by the way.  She's got her dead husband's pistol, and it's got a hair trigger.  See, I found that out earlier when she pulled it on Paul because she thought he was a burglar and got all jumpy.  She also has a chin strap on.  For those of you that don't know, women used to wear chin straps to keep themselves from getting flabby under their chin.  Isn't this whole thing delightfully twisted?  Anyway, while she cleans up the mess, the hand starts crawling around and ended up in the landlady's bed.
13.  The landlady gets back into bed and settles in.  You can see her pillow move, and then a hand come up from behind.  It raises ever so slowly, ready to strike at any moment.  And then, suddenly, it reaches down and scratches her lip.  It's her own hand.  Psyche!  Now that actually got me to laugh.  That was brilliant and totally unexpected.  I'm gonna have to give the movie at least an extra half a bee for that.  What a great scene.
14.  Uh oh.  She can't sleep.  Time for a little drinky before bed.  Man, she must be a hardcore alcoholic or something.  She slammed that down and didn't even make the face or nothin'.  Now that's one tough broad!  She laid back down for about two seconds after she had the drink but that still wasn't enough.  She got back up again and started looking through her pills.  Now let me tell you something.  This woman has about fifty bottles of various pills all over the place and tons of booze.  If I didn't know any better, I'd say she was Marilyn Monroe's mama or somethin'.

15.  So she gets some pills, and as she's just about to walk back to her bed, the hand comes out of nowhere and lunges at her neck.  It gets a choke hold on her and starts strangling her mercilessly.  Now tell me something.  How the hell does a severed arm lunge at anything?  I mean, what the hell is this anyway?  Re-Animator?  My wife Sharon just said something I have to put in here.  She said, "At least she's getting the chin lift she wanted."  Sharon rules!

16.  She just pulled the lamp and the gun and all the pills off the table in her death throes.  Paul heard it and came running down.  He finds her dead.  Well she's kinda dead.  When they show her, she's clearly taking a big ol breath.  Man, some of these people really need acting lessons.
17.  Woo Hoo!!!  They just showed Sheriff Townsend and it's none other than Alan Hale!  The skipper from Gilligan's Island!!!  I guess he was a sheriff before he started giving three hour tours of the islands with his little buddy.
18.  Anyway, Paul called the sheriff. The sheriff is asking Paul questions.  Oh my god!!!  He was just talking about fingerprinting the whole place, and now he's got the landlady's gun in his hand without any gloves or anything!!!  Who the hell trained this guy, Barney Fife?
19.  Paul isn't being overly forthcoming with the info.  I'm still trying to figure out why he's not telling anyone about the severed arm.  Like I said before, what a creep.  He insisted on staying in the house that night too instead of taking the sheriff's offer to find him another place to stay.  So the cops leave and Paul gets on the phone and tries to call Dr. Max.  Not sure how he knows the doc, but he better make the call quick because the hand is about to strangle him.  Too late, it's strangling him.  He took some tranquilizers too so he's not in too great a shape to fight back.  The hand crawls away though for some reason before the job is finished.  Paul's still just barely alive.
20.  Oh my god!!!  This is one of the funniest scenes I've ever seen.  These two ambulance guys from the coroners office came to pick up the landlady.  So they just get done putting her on the gurney and covering her up when one says to the other, "Boy, I sure could use a beer."  Then he starts in on his buddy about how great it would be to have a nice tall cold beer, and about how he bet there was some in the fridge in the kitchen.  Oh my god that's hilarious.  I think that might be my clip, or at least the quote.  Don't be surprised if you see it later one way or the other.
21.  Oh man!  So they're on the way to the kitchen when they find Paul.  One of the ambulance guys wants to get the hell out of there and leave him there 'cause he's scared to death.  The other guy insists on taking him too 'cause he might still be alive.  Now this is where it gets hilarious again.  They're driving along.  Paul and the landlady are in the back of the ambulance and neither of their faces is covered.  The landlady's eyes are closed, and if you just keep watching her, suddenly she opens them!  As if this isn't bad enough, Paul wakes up and looks over at her and freaks out big time and starts screaming.  So they show a close up of her face, and she blinks!  I don't know where they found this lady, but even for a buck ninety-eight I could have found an actress who knew how to play dead better than this one.  My god this whole thing is hilarious!  The guy driving the ambulance hears Paul freaking out and stops the car.  Paul piles out of the back and takes off running.
22.  Now we're back with Steve.  He and Dr. Max are having a meeting with a Mr. Miedel who's the head of security.  It turns out, they've discovered that the fingerprint they lifted from the landlady's medallion belonged to the dead astronaut.  Now I don't know about you, but that would creep me out pretty good.
23.  Back in California, Paul returns back to the house and the sheriff is waiting for him.  He has a little small talk and asks him where he's been and then tells him to stick close to the house.  Now what I'm trying to figure out here, is why the hell he would go back to a house where he just about got strangled by a severed arm.  I'm also trying to figure out why he's still not telling anyone anything.  Apparently, Paul's been infected by whatever was in the hand because he's starting to get that heroin addict look just like that astronaut guy had.  He started to make a tape recording about everything that happened, but then destroyed it, tape recorder and all when he had his fit.
24.  Steve and Dr. Max are denied access to the house by the sheriff, but Paul spots them outside and holds a sign in the window telling them to pop around back.  He throws them a note saying to come back after dark and that the back door would be locked.  Now Marta just came running up and busted through the front door looking for Paul.  I thought the deputy was supposed to be outside keeping people out?  Whoops, now he came in and found her.  Paul started screaming for him to get her out of the house.  Man, now that's some serious overacting.  I mean serious.
25.  Night time now, and Steve and Dr. Max are in the house.  They had visited the landlady at the funeral home and scanned her for cosmic rays.  They got a positive reading.  Now in the landlady's house, they're getting positive readings as well.  Paul just showed up while they were getting readings and attacked them.  He was having one of his fits again.  He ran out of the house after beating them but the deputy didn't see him.  He did however see Steve and Dr. Max and forced them back into the house.  They tried to tell him about Paul but he wouldn't listen.  Another Barney Fife trainee I see.
26.  Paul ends up at the malt shop where the owner is cleaning up for the evening.  He attacks the guy and starts to strangle him, knocking him back into the jukebox, which naturally means that a song started playing even though no one had put any money in the stupid thing.  Paul's fit of rage went away though before he finished the job.  The old guy got a good look at him though and I'm sure the police will be wanting to have a talk with Paul sometime here pretty quick.  This almost looks like something out of Refer Madness.
27.  Now Paul's at Marta's house tapping on her window.  She invites him in.  Now wasn't that stupid?  Maybe he'll strangle her.  I'd strangle her just for that slipping and sliding accent.  He's telling her that there's something terrible that's happened to him.  He's telling her this very convoluted story about what's happening to him.  Now she's telling him she doesn't want him to go and he's having a fit and telling her to get away from him.  She should have just let him go, because he's going into one of his fits again and trying to kill her.  Her grandfather and her friend came running to the room and scared him away though before she could do it.  Too bad.
28.  The sheriff and deputy are driving Steve and Dr. Max out to the Farnsworth place now because they got the report about Paul.  The sheriff is accusing Steve and Dr. Max of letting Paul get away and saying how he's gonna book them for it.  Now excuse me here, but it seems to me that Steve and Dr. Max tried to tell deputy Fife over here that Paul was getting away, and he wouldn't listen.  Seems like if anyone's gonna get booked around here, it oughta be that incompetent deputy.
29.  Paul goes back to the landlady's house and climbs in through the window.  What's hilarious about this is that when he drops down off the counter, he lands on the cat and it makes this pissed off cat sound.  It was awesome.  Anyway, Paul went back to the house to get the severed arm, which he actually found and captured fairly quickly, which is kinda odd considering it was creeping around in that house for the whole time he was staying there and the only time he saw it was when it tried to strangle him.
30.  Apparently Paul's brilliant idea of locking the hand in his trunk wasn't such a brilliant idea after all.  The hand got out of the trunk and into the car.  It's climbing up the back seat now and just started strangling him again.  Fortunately he was able to stop the car and re-capture it.  At least he re-captured it for a few seconds until he tripped and it got away again.  He stopped in a junkyard by the way so that's where all this is taking place.  Well the hand stalked him for a minute and then tripped him up.  He grabbed a bottle and broke it and started stabbing the hand with it.  Then for no reason whatsoever, there's a small clip of two cats fighting.  What the hell that was about?!?!?!
31.  The sheriff and the boys arrive at the junkyard and find Paul's car.  I don't know how the hell they ever found him considering they had no idea where he was.  Paul approaches them with the broken bottle.  The cats are licking the blood off the hand and starting to eat it now.  They're getting all violent.  The hand seems to have died now, and when it did, Paul collapsed.  They grab him and take him to the hospital.  Before they do though, Steve and Dr. Max find the arm.
32.  Back in the hospital, Dr. Max scans Paul and finds that he's now free of the cosmic rays.  The Sheriff knows about the arm now and everyone knows that nothing that happened wasn't Paul's fault.  I think it was though because he found that damn arm and didn't tell no one.  The arm is locked in a metal box now.  The two ambulance drivers from the house are supposed to transport the arm to the airport.  The one that wanted the beer earlier gets curious about what's in the box and talks his buddy into letting him open it.  When he did, there was nothing in it except the words, "The End."  Where'd the arm go?
33.  Anyway, that's the end.  I'm just glad that by about two thirds of the way through the movie Steve got over his overacting.  Unfortunately, Paul seems to have picked it up.



Best Quote

"Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die."

 

- The malt shop owner making cheerful conversation with Marta and Patsy. - (Reviewer's Note: This guy's a crazy old coot, which is probably why no one takes him seriously when he says stuff like this.  He's pretty harmless though.  He even plays us a nice tune on the jukebox while he's getting strangled.  Wasn't that nice of him?)




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

The Crawling Hand
This scene was just hilarious so I had to make it the video even though it doesn't have the hand in it. This is the scene I talked about above with the two ambulance guys looking for beer.



The Conclusion

Well I certainly have mixed feelings about this movie.  The plot was kinda weak and some of the characters were far less intelligent than they should have been, and there were even some characters that probably shouldn't have even been in the movie at all. There were also some bad edits and inconsistencies here and there, and although we got to see it quite a bit, we didn't get to see the hand nearly enough. Despite the problems though, I actually found myself quite enjoying this film.

There were parts in this movie that had me absolutely busting up laughing, which was really great because I don't find too many films that can do that.  There was a lot of goofy stuff in here that Ed Wood himself would have been proud to call his own.  Things like the beer swilling ambulance guys, or the dead bodies that were still breathing and opening their eyes and blinking. I just about died when Paul came through the window and landed on the cat.  That was just beautiful.  There was so much about this movie that was just fun and made me laugh that it overrode any of my other secondary concerns.

If this movie didn't have all this goofy stuff in it, I would probably equate it to The Wasp Woman just in it's general tone and feel.  It's the goofy stuff though that makes this a memorable film, and gives it some level of rewatchability.

Now one thing I did have a problem with was the very poor sound quality at the beginning and also during a few other parts later on in the film.  Basically, the sound was clipping, albeit ever so slightly, but just enough to be noticeable and somewhat annoying.  Apparently this happened when they were digitally mastering the film for DVD, and no one apparently checked to make sure that everything was cool before it was mastered.  I can't imagine it'd be like that on the source material.  I guess someone just forgot to adjust the compressor and audio levels when they were converting it to digital.  It isn't that bad and certainly not bad to the point that it makes it impossible to hear anything they're saying.  There's just a slight clipping to some of the louder words and sounds for a while.  This kinda comes and goes throughout the movie, but it's more pronounced in the beginning.  It's not a major problem though and certainly not a reason to not buy this film.

Something else I'd like to mention is that the hand itself was quite well done.  The way it moved and even the way it leaped at Paul and tripped him up at the end were both excellent examples of the quality of the effects.  One thing that struck me kind of odd though, was that the hand really only killed one person in this whole movie.  I was kind of expecting it to be more of a killer, but it didn't turn out that way.

This movie surprised me.  I put off reviewing it because I didn't think it would be all that great, but now that I'm done, I've found that I truly enjoyed myself.  If it hadn't have made me laugh the way it did, I would have probably given it two bees, but because I enjoyed it far more than I ever expected to, I'm happy to be able to give it...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 3½ Bees

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