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Hands of a Stranger

Semi-gripping thriller.

Rod Lott August 23rd, 2013

After ruining his golden phalanges in an auto accident, concert pianist Vernon Paris (James Noah, Black Sheep) gets replacement mitts "donated" by a guy fatally shot thrice on the studio backlot street. The renegade medical procedure is dangerous, experimental and performed by a surgeon (Paul Lukather, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) who assures us, "I've transplanted other hands, yes."

The Hands of a Stranger fuse nicely, but there's one unfortunate side effect: Vernon now tickles the ivories with as much finesse as a kindergartener who forgot his Ritalin. Make that two side effects: He also kinda sorta becomes a killer.

In the Hands of writer/director Newt Arnold (Jean-Claude Van Damme's Bloodsport), the 1962 chiller is played rather melodramatically and with stiff performances, but that's not necessarily a bad thing when dealing with black-and-white B movies. After all, there's a reason the transplant-gone-amok premise keeps popping up in horror films such as Mad Love, The Hand and Body Parts: Because it never gets old, and at the very least, it's going to be fun. Arnold hits his apex in a nightmarish sequence at a carnival that looks like it influenced a young Tim Burton.

Although free of extra features, Warner Archive's MOD DVD sports a better print than various public-domain editions out there. If nothing else, Hand it to them for that. —Rod Lott

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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