Thursday, March 11, 2010

'The Devil's Hand' isn't worth holding

The Devil's Hand
(aka "The Devil's Doll" and "The Naked Goddess") (1961)
Starring: Robert Alda, Linda Christian, Neil Hamilton and Ariadna Welter
Director: William Hole, Jr.
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Good-guy Rick Turner (Alda) is lured into a Satanic cult by telepathic temptress Bianca (Christian). When he discovers the cult is responsible for his fiance's heart-trouble via a voodoo curse, Rick must choose between the cult and true love. But the voodoo-doll making cult leader, Frank (Hamilton), has ways he believes will keep Rick with the devil worshippers.

"The Devil's Hand" has some interesting aspects, and some potentially interesting plot developments (the journalist who has infiltrated the cult, the cult's ability to infitrate hospital staff, the true sorcery involved--even if Frank uses stage magician tricks to have the demon god "pass judgement" during ceremonies), but none of these are really explored.

For the most part, this is a woodenly acted melodrama where the charcters are motivated to take actions for no reason other than the script says they must... except for the black cultists; the one beating the voodoo drum and the one who simply HAS to dance whenever the beat is on. Clearly, they're motivated by natural rythm. (And even taking into account this film dates from 1961, the racist stereotype was grating here, particularly since the cult is established to be worldwide, what with Bianca encountering it in Tibet).

I say just let your fingers walk right by "The Devil's Hand".

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