Beware the Reach of… – The Devil’s Hand (1962)

Cults are almost always looked upon with disfavour and for good reason as they usually follow and foster fake religions while being a haven for all manner of crimes, whether its followers believe it or not. The Devil’s Hand is one such movie that features a cult, this particular one worshipping a deity named Gamba, a devil that asks them for sacrifices and fealty through the use of voodoo dolls. That in itself is the scariest part of this movie, the blind devotion of those who follow a cause with no proof or substance other than the word of its false prophet. Devotion and faith can move mountains whether the cause is just or not, all it takes is the belief by those whose lives are empty and unfulfilled, those who need something to pour into that empty chasm within them and for that, they will tear down the heavens, or murder whom they have to if called for.

Though it might fall into the horror genre, there is little to be afraid of in this film other than the idea of the cult itself. It is quite moody and director William J. Hole Jr. paints a tense picture, one where his hero Rick as played by Robert Alda, is soon indoctrinated into the cult and finds himself not knowing who to trust when he discovers that he might be a victim instead of just an unwitting convert. Though Alda does a good job of it, it is Neil Hamilton as the villainous leader Lamont that really sells the film. A little goofy at times perhaps and channelling his inner-John Carradine during certain moments, Hamilton nonetheless has what it takes to pose as a man able to lead and inspire those who follow him. As for the female lead, that falls to Linda Christian who appears as both a goddess figure and a devote follower, a woman who seduces Alda into joining her cult and will do whatever it takes to please him – as long as he does not betray those he now calls brothers and sisters. Christian is frightful as well, the rabid devotee who has it within herself to do what is called of her and the look upon her face sometimes tells the viewer just that and is again, something far scarier than anything else that this picture presents.

While there is a bit of murder present, it is all very tame and as for the voodoo dolls, they are not quite so frightening as they are curious to look at and a plot device to move the story forward. As with many cults, the one portrayed in this film was not meant to last, burning out towards the climax both figuratively and literally, though it does serve up one last tidbit that is slightly cliché, yet fun nonetheless.

3 out of 5

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