The Devil's Hand (1961)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - May 31, 1961 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 71 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Here's an unobtrusive bit of hackwork from the director of The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow and the man responsible for siring Alan Alda. The Devil's Hand examines what happens when a man foolishly follows his dreams into a world of voodoo and the occult. He finds himself in thrall to the redundantly named "Gamba, the Devil God of Evil," tossing aside his faithful brunette fiancée for a gorgeous blonde enchantress. The protagonist, Rick Robert Alda, is dull and ineffectual, making it hard to believe that a witch with supernatural powers would choose him to seduce out of all the men in the world. He's a willing pigeon, however, smugly enjoying his sudden success with gambling and the stock market, not to mention his overwhelming desire for his evil paramour (perfunctorily played by Linda Christian). The Devil's Hand starts off nicely enough with a series of eerie events that quickly get explained away as mere "magic," and it just gets more tiresome from there. Judicious editing might have turned this into a decent Twilight Zone episode, but 70 lackluster minutes are used, padded with stock footage that appears to be from the '30s. Neil Hamilton (aka "Commissioner Gordon" from the Batman TV series) co-stars as the "High Executioner," whose specialty doll shop is a front for a Satanic chapel decked out with mannequins, torches, and an ever-present bongo player. Good girl Ariadne Welter was a regular in Mexican cinema (debuting in Luis Buñuel's Ensayo de un Crimen) and had a role in the confounding gore oddity The Brainiac the same year as this, her only American feature. The best thing about The Devil's Hand is undoubtedly the sleazy bump 'n' grind rock instrumental music that accompanies the opening credits; later on the tune is heard again during a brief scene in which Alda angrily tells Christian to turn the damn noise down, proving that he not only has bad judgment, but also bad taste.