Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Devil’s Hand (1961)

Poster for The Devil's Hand (1961)The Devil’s Hand (1961) by #WilliamJHoleJr
#LindaChristian #RobertAlda

Haunted by visions of a beautiful woman, a man is drawn into a Satanic cult.

“The men she loved lived to love no others!”

“Still alive…the ancient cult of voodoo as it is practised today!”

#Horror #Voodoo #DevilWorship

A few weeks ago I wrote about a movie called The Hand (1960). A week before that my topic was Devil’s Partner (1960). If you put those two movies together, you’d come up with The Devil’s Hand (1961). Well, probably not, really, but it’s an intriguing thought. And The Devil’s Hand (1961) did come out one year after the other two…

The Devil’s Hand (1961) probably has more in common with Devil’s Partner (1960) than The Hand (1960), as both movies deal with Satanism, or Devil worship. It always surprises me to see movies of that era dealing with Satanism I tend to think of that as something more common in the late 1960s and especially in the 1970s. As such, a movie like The Devil’s Hand (1961) feels ahead of its time to me. Whether or not it really was, I’m sure it would have felt fairly fresh when it came out. No giant bugs or monsters. Just Satan. And cult members. And  a bit of Voodoo thrown in.

Did Satan have anything to do with Voodoo? I’m no expert, but I don’t really think so. I tend to think of Voodoo as a combination of Catholicism and… something else. Traditional African religion, perhaps? Like I said, I’m no expert. But that doesn’t really sound like Satanism to me.

In any case, I don’t tend to see a lot of movies dealing with Satanism made prior to Rosemary’s Baby (1968). There are some, I’m sure. But they’re rare. I suspect this is at least partly due to The Hays Code, which came to an end in 1968. I could be wrong, but I don’t imagine that the people working in The Hays Office, who were, for the most part,  good, upstanding (uptight?) Christians – with ties to the Catholic Legion of Decency –  would have looked too favourably on movies about Satanism.

So, it’s always a pleasant surprise to see a movie like The Devil’s Hand. It’s not exactly a good movie. But it’s not a bad movie, either. It’s actually quite intriguing in the beginning. A man, Rick Turner played by Robert Alda,  is having dreams about a woman, and then he sees her – or rather, a doll that is the spitting image of her – in a store window. He goes in and the man behind the counter knows his name and tells him that the doll he ordered is ready – but Rick has never been there before and did not order any doll.

The story continues on from there, and is almost like an episode of The Twilight Zone or Tales From The Crypt. I won’t spoil it by describing any more of the plot, but suffice it to say that The Devil’s Hand had no trouble holding  my interest for 71 minutes. 

Robert Alda is, of course, the father of Alan Alda, who most of us remember from M*A*S*H*. Robert Alda even guest starred on a memorable episode of that show, playing a doctor who really annoyed Hawkeye (Alan Alda). He also played George Gershwin in Rhapsody in Blue (1945), originated the role of Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls  on Broadway,  and, more importantly to people like me, he starred in The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) – which also had something to do with the occult, actually. Five fingers…? Devil’s hand…? Hmmm…

The Devil’s Hand (1961) is an intriguing, if somewhat forgotten, Satanic sample of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. While not quite a lost masterpiece, it’s more than worth a look for those with an appreciation of black magic and secret cults. Slot it in at the witching hour on your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn