Curse of the Stone Hand (1964)

Curse of the Stone Hand (1964)‘Charles has a power alright; call it hypnotism or what you will.’

An old man relates two stories about a cursed old house to a painter who has been using it as the subject for a canvas. Apparently, the blame lies with a number of stone hand statues dotted around the property and inside the house.

Another Jerry Warren collage of other people’s films, spliced together with some of the master’s own footage, although exactly how much is open to debate. The bulk of the film certainly isn’t anything to do with Jerry; mainly comprising parts of two Chilean films shot by Argentinian directors in the mid-1940s.

This 57 minute opus opens with the framing story of the old man and the painter. I have read that this is one of Jerry’s ‘additions’ but it’s well shot and has a decent number of edits and camera moves, two things that Jerry didn’t go in for too much (probably on the grounds that they were too expensive). We don’t get any close ups of the two actors speaking their lines either; just mid to long shots. This all points to the fact that this is old footage culled from another source, possibly part of the second Chilean film featured here.

The first of these is ‘La Dama De La Muerte’ (‘The Lady of Death’) (1946); a decent looking version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘The Suicide Club.’ Production design, costumes and cast are obviously worlds apart from anything Jerry himself could muster and, despite the tiresome presence of Voiceover Man, it’s not too painful an experience and the most coherent part of the whole enterprise.

But then we get approximately 25 minutes of ‘La Casa Esta Vacia’ (‘The House is Empty’) (1945) scissored down from a feature length film. Inevitably, it makes absolutely no sense at all. A few minutes from the end, Jerry inserts some of his own footage at last; a brief conversation between his wife Katherine Victor and John Carradine talking in a tavern. Victor then has a pointless chat with one of the main characters. We only see his back, of course, because he’s actually a Chilean actor from almost 20 years in the past, who was already dead by then. And that’s it. Probably an afternoon’s filming.

Curse of the Stone Hand (1964)

You look pretty good for a guy whose been dead almost 20 years…

Given all this, the final product is obviously pretty wretched. Jerry probably only added the new scenes so that he could legitimately share a director’s credit with Carlos Hugo Christensen, who was responsible for ‘La Dama De La Muerte’ (1946). Top billed ahead of Carradine is Ernest Walch, an Americanisation of the name of actor Ernesto Vilches, who also appears in the cast list as Ernest Vilche!  It’s a pretty good indication of the level of care and attention that went into the final release.

The quality of the original Chilean films, and the fact that Jerry doesn’t inflict us with too much of his own work, means that this never quite plumbs the depths of his worst pictures such as ‘Creature of the Walking Dead’ (1966). However, it’s still less entertaining than ‘Man Beast’ (1956) and can’t hold a candle to the sheer insanity of Jerry’s swansong; the very wonderfully demented ‘Frankenstein Island’ (1981).

Jerry, you were a prince!

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