Movie Review: The Hand of Death (1962)

Synopsis: Scientist Alex Marsh is experimenting with a nerve gas that has both hypnotic and paralytic effects when a lab accident results in him being exposed to a liquified version of the chemical. The exposure results in his skin being deformed and instant death to anyone who has physical contact with him.

Who's in it? The movie stars John AgarPaula RaymondStephen DunneRoy Gordon and Joe Besser.

Review: I came across this movie yesterday evening and, since it was only an hour in length, decided to watch it this morning before heading to the office. Overall, it wound up being what I was expecting it to be, a low-budget horror film that wasn't particuarly memorable.

To be fair, the plot itself wasn't too bad. Alex Marsh (Agar) was somewhat likable even though he was a bit of a workaholic and, at minimum, his heart was in the right place (he was creating the gas because he believed it would prevent people from being killed in a war). The fact most of the people he killed were accidents also added a little extra suspense at times because it was unclear if he would accidentally kill his girlfriend (Raymond) or someone else close to him.

I think the main problem with this movie is the overall plot is somewhat predictable. It's one of those movies that makes an desperate attempt to make you believe the main character can be saved but, at the same time, you know there's really only one way the film is going to end because, even if they were to cure him, there is still the whole pile of dead bodies thing that needs to be cleared up. As a result, it wasn't too difficult to figure out what was going to happen each step of the way.

I also felt as though the movie dropped the ball a bit with the building love triangle between Alex, his girlfriend and his colleague, Tom Holland (Dunne). You could see the attraction between the latter two thoughout the movie but they stopped short of taking it any further. Given the short run time, the movie probably couldn't have squeezed it in regardless, but I do think it would have at least created some much-needed drama.

Oh, and I have to say, as far as classic horror films go, this one has some of the most inappropriate music I've ever listened to. It was a little too science fiction-like and upbeat for monster movie, especially when it was playing a version of Chopsticks during the scene featuring a young Butch Patrick pretending like he was in any real danger (yeah, I didn't believe for a second the movie would kill a young kid).

Final Opinion: The movie does have some suspenseful moments, especially toward the end, when he is in a small room with his girlfriend. However, the overall plot is a bit too predictable for this movie to be anything overly memorable.

My Grade: C


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