CURSE OF THE STONE HAND (1964)
Article #1451 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-5-2005
Posting Date: 8-2-2005
Directed by Jerry Warren, Carlos Hugo Christensen and Carlos Schlieper
Featuring Chela Bon, John Carradine, and Carlos Cores
A stone hand exudes a baleful influence over residents of a house and anyone who watches this movie.
For those not familiar with Jerry Warren’s technique in bringing foreign films to an English speaking audience, here’s a quick recap. He takes one or two foreign movies, removes any scene that might require extensive dubbing. When he does dub, it is usually only when characters are turned away from the camera or when they say only a small phrase. To compensate for the fact that in this process he has most likely removed most of the exposition and plot points, he provides occasional narration. If something more is needed, he will write insert scenes with available actors. This scenes are instantly recognizable because a) they are lit and directed in a style completely different from the footage from the foreign movies, and b) the terseness of the kept footage gives way to endless chattering, since he no longer has to worry about syncing up dialogue. This last technique wouldn’t have been as disastrous as it was had Jerry Warren been a decent writer and director; as it is, his characters are so loquacious and given to discursive digressions that these scenes utterly fail to pass any crucial plot information whatsoever, and they are directed so flatly that they are likely to put you to sleep.
This movie is similar in technique to FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF. Like that movie, he combines footage from two different movies (one from Mexico and one from Chile, though I’ve also heard the story that they are both from Chile). Though he tries to tie them together by the use of the stone hand curse, it’s obviously two different movies. The first one is a variation of “The Suicide Club”, and though it’s a bit on the predictable side, at least much of its tension is visual in the first place. As a result, this part of the story is singularly free from Warren’s inserts, and the story is coherent (a word that rarely pops up when speaking of Warren’s oeuvre). The second story is an utter disaster; the cutting has rendered it incomprehensible, the inserts are useless, and after awhile the only thing left for the viewer to follow is the slow passage of time. Many descriptions of this movie say that the hand comes to life and crawls around, but unless my print is missing something, I saw no such footage and no one talks about such a thing happening. I’m not sure exactly what the stone hand has to do with anything in the movie; in fact, I don’t think it appears in any form for the entire second half of the movie. All in all, it’s pretty sad; I suspect that the original films used to make this one weren’t bad at all.