This remake of a 1924 silent film called The Hands of Orlac and the 1935 Peter Lorre film Mad Love has virtuoso concert pianist Vernon Paris (James Noah, billed here as James Stapleton) lose the use of his hands in a horrific car accident while he is the passenger in a taxi.
He receives a hand transplant from Dr Gil Harding (Paul Lukather) using the hands of a recently deceased corpse, and while the graft is an amazing success, the new hands cannot adjust to the piano keyboard.
The egocentric Vernon is psychologically traumatised and begins to lose his mind.
It transpires that the grafted hands belonged to an extremely brutal murderer, and Vernon eventually kills several people in a shocking and brutal fashion, most tragically the murder of child prodigy Skeet Wilder (Barry Gordon) – the 10-year-old son of the taxi driver responsible for the loss of Vernon’s hands in the first place.
It’s a very slow-paced and extremely talky film with plenty of overacting, but as a psychological thriller, it’s certainly not as bad as many low-budget horror films from the era.
Hands of a Stranger was completed in 1960 but not released until 1962. Look out for a young Sally Kellerman – the future star of the movie version of M*A*S*H (1970) – and Irish McCalla, TV’s Sheena: Queen of the Jungle.
Dr Gil Harding
James Noah (as James Stapleton)
Dr Ross Compton
Dr Ken Fry
Michael Du Pont