Creature with the Blue Hand


Director: Alfred Vohrer
Year: 1967
Rating: 7.5
Country: Germany

One of these days I have to sit down and read some of the novels of Edgar Wallace. I have a couple on my Kindle but have never gotten around to them. Edgar Wallace some of you might ask. Who is he? Good question. Until a few months ago I vaguely knew the name but knew nothing about him. He was an interesting character.

Born in 1875 in England, an illegitimate boy mired in poverty during his childhood, leaving school at the age of 12 and joining the army when he was 21. Off to South Africa he was sent to fight the Boers but did not take to military life and so was able to buy himself out and became a reporter which he found he was pretty good at. Good enough in fact that he turned to writing fiction and self-published his first book in 1905. It was a disaster and he went bankrupt. But he kept writing and writing and writing. An amazingly prolific author in fact - during his lifetime he published 170 novels and nearly 1,000 short stories. And he died fairly young at the age of 57. He primarily wrote mysteries and adventure stories - Sanders of the River (based on his time in South Africa) was one of his characters; also a few detectives and policemen and also a group of Global assassins to make things right in The Just Men series. He was not only astonishingly prolific but also incredibly popular. His books were everywhere. And yet unlike so many of the pulp writers in that period, he is nearly forgotten and his books are collecting dust except from a fervid fan base - which came to him mainly from films based on his books.

Because the movies came calling and based over 200 movies on his writings. Most of them unfortunately for him after his death. In 1931 he went to Hollywood to help with scripts - God knows why - he was already so successful with his books and plays and films based on his novels - but off he went to help on a film called King Kong. King Kong or American food - he had diabetes - killed him and he died in early 1932.

Initially it was British cinema that used his novels as a source but by the mid-1950s that had slowed down considerably - he had been dead for over 20 years and many of his books were out of print. But for reasons I can't quite understand the German film industry embraced him in the 1960s and churned out tons of films based on his crime books that were termed Krimi. I don't think most of them of are out with English subs - or dubbed - but some are. But in an odd choice - at least the ones I have seen - the stories are not adapted for a German locale but are set in England often in Scotland Yard.

As is this very enjoyable beautifully shot murder mystery that throws in a lot of lunacy. Fun from beginning to a rather bewildering end. There isn't just one crazy person in this one but lots of them - and snakes and rats and torture tables and murder after murder. There is no down time here - no romance - just insanity and murder. And a pinch of black humor. It begins with Lord Emerson being sentenced to a mental institution for a murder. On his first day someone slips him a key and a rope to escape. And the killings begin in the Emerson family which consists of a mother who could send a chill through Joan Crawford, four sons (two of them twins), a lovely daughter and a butler who keeps his eyes open and his mouth shut. And a house with the requisite hidden doors and secret rooms. And there is that insane asylum - with one patient constantly stripping, another killing a doll and a gaggle of crazies ready to welcome newcomers with sharp claws. And talking of sharp claws - someone is running around in a black hood and an iron hand with sharp deadly claws. The Blue Hand. For those into Euro trash from that period, there is an added bonus of Klaus Kinski not in one role but in two and we have to guess which is the sane one. Or maybe neither are.