Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 45: The Hands of Orlac

Made by the same twisted genius who created the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Hands of Orlac is another German expressionist horror movie that doesn't hold back on the plot developments. A concert pianist is involved in a hideous train wreck and his hands are crushed. In a rush to salvage the life of the pianist (Orlac), a pretty mad scientist gives him the hands of a recently executed serial killer. Orlac finds out and starts going a little azy-cray believing the hands have a will of their own. There is blackmail, lust, murder, dismissive parenting and so much more going on here that I can't even get into without giving things away.

For people who think silent films can't be engaging or entertaining, Orlac is a strong rejoinder. Eveything about it is designed to thrill and keep the audience guessing as to the outcome. Sure, the pacing can seem a touch sluggish to modern audiences but these movies are otherwise master classes in horror storytelling. Some of the imagery from this movie is also so beautifully shot that I still see it clearly (like the hand of God effect, the train crash and Orlac Senior's throne room). If you have even a little patience, check it out.

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