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Hand of Death

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1962; vt Five Fingers of Death). Associated Producers/20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Produced by Eugene Ling. Directed by Gene Nelson. Written by Ling. Cast includes John Agar, Stephen Dunne, Roy Gordon and Paula Raymond. 58 minutes. Black and white.

Idealistic Scientist Alex Marsh (Agar) is developing an experimental nerve gas which he naively hopes will be a Weapons so deadly as to bring about an end to warfare. In a predictable accident, some of the chemical in liquid form splashes on him. This gives him the ability to kill with a touch; it also first darkens his skin and then converts him into a grotesque Monster resembling the Thing from the Fantastic Four in Comics. He runs amok, killing a number of people despite the best efforts of his girlfriend Carol Wilson (Raymond) and his colleagues Tom Holland (Dunne) and Dr Frederick Ramsey (Gordon) to help him. Finally, at Carol's beach-side home, he is shot to death by the police.

Hand of Death was long believed lost after its brief run on the US drive-in film circuit; low-quality prints surfaced in the early twenty-first century. The uncomfortable initial transformation in which Marsh acquires a darker skin tone was sheer thoughtlessness on the part of the film-makers. Agar's alcoholism was by now growing steadily worse: such zero-budget films and bit television parts were soon the only work he was offered. [GSt]


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