Alfred Vohrer, 1967
Starring: Klaus Kinski, Harald Leipnitz, Carl Lange, Ilse Steppat
Die Blaue Hand aka The Bloody Hand is part of a particular genre of film that I enjoy immensely, but don't think I've ever covered on this blog before: the krimi or German crime mystery. Usually based on the works of British murder mystery novelists like Edgar Wallace (who wrote the source novel for this film), krimi films are sort of the German version of gialli. They are generally stylistic crime thrillers with gruesome enough elements that they are usually marketed as horror films. Shot mostly in Germany and Denmark by Rialto, most of them were dubbed in English for a British market.
Creature with the Blue Hand has all the elements typically found in the genre: over-the-top acting, dialogue-heavy scenes, a maniac on the loose, terrible dubbing, and an extremely complicated plot that involves dark secrets and plenty of double crossing. It also has Klaus Kinski.
Kinski plays twins Dave and Richard Emerson, two of the least German names imaginable. Dave has been wrongly committed to an insane asylum, so he escapes and sneaks back to his ancestral family mansion to prove his innocence and his brother Richard's guilt. There is a family legend about a peculiar suit of armor that has a blue glove with razor sharp claws, but the glove has never been found. It seems some mysterious, hooded figure has uncovered the glove and is now using it to kill an astounding amount of people. Can Dave prove his innocence and Richard's guilt before everyone gets killed by the creature with the blue hand?
Sure, it's a little schlocky, but Creature with the Blue Hand is incredibly entertaining. The film feels dated and the dubbing is appalling, but it's well-paced, suspenseful, and has an almost Scooby Doo-like series of unimaginable plot twists. There are some very creepy visuals, such as the medieval looking manor and the asylum. I don't want to ruin any surprises, but if you're new to krimi, this is a great place to start. Keep your eye on the many memorable side characters from the suspicious mother and the quirky Scotland Yard detective, to the eccentric butler, who is my favorite character next to Kinski's Dave.
A note on The Bloody Hand version: Sam Sherman came along and added some extra gore. This "new" print is known as The Bloody Hand and, as far as I'm concerned, should be avoided. Unfortunately the only way to get Creature with the Blue Hand on DVD is the double feature Image DVD that also contains The Bloody Hand. For some mystifying reason, Image has put most of the work into restoring the latter, which has an impressive commentary and a superior looking print. I'm not sure why they didn't lavish any of this attention on Creature with the Blue Hand, but I still recommend that version over the newer doctored print.