Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Devil's Hand (1961)

A young couple meet in a park and engage in exposition masquerading as stilted dialogue.  She's keener than he is about getting married.  He's suffering from insomnia and has quit his job without telling her before-hand, which I think is supposed to seem out of character but seriously film, we met this guy two minutes ago and he's been pretty flakey through the whole conversation.

That night, our putative hero's sleep is disturbed by dreams of a woman dancing in what is probably meant to be alluring fashion.  This leads to him prowling the streets in affectedly noirish mode, complete with voice over.  He's just missing the rain and the fedora, really.

Anyway, it emerges that he's been targeted by a beautiful witch, who intends to seduce him into her demonic cult, dally with him for a while, and then ... well, the movie never says what happened to her previous 'distractions', but I doubt the retirement plan is very good.

He quickly falls under her power, ditching his fiancee (who meanwhile is rendered bed-ridden by the cult's magical power).  However, he must pass a test of loyalty in order to be accepted into the cult, and while pass he does, the experience prompts him to reconsider his actions.  Of course, any sign of turning against the cult is sure to lead to great danger ...

There's a half decent B-grade thriller hidden in here, with a couple of nice touches.  For instance, I liked that when the protagonist starts to doubt his allegiances, the evil witch character is actually quick to become suspicious of him.  Not for her the usual trope of being pathologically certain of her feminine wiles.

Alas, that half-decent film is wrapped in poor but not so-bad-it's-good acting, a sluggish plot, and some laughably ill-staged 'action' scenes.  It all adds up to a rather tepid experience.

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