I am a fan of Peter Lorre. He has always played creeps and losers so well but this early role is one of his most creepy. Heavily influenced by the German expressionist films like Metropolis and M, this movie has the same twisted shadows and cramped sets that give us an atmosphere of dread.
The story involved a couple named Orlac (Colin Clive - who also played Dr. Frankenstein - "He's Alive".) who come into contact with a weird surgeon named Dr Gogol. Gogol is a megalomaniac, obsessive who like Golum has an evil side that talks to him in the mirror and tells him to commit murder later in the film.
The Doctor spends his evenings watching the performance of an actress that he in is love with. She has no idea he exists and even when he is introduced to her, she finds him to be very weird.
The bald head, fur lined coat and monotone speech pattern of Lorre certainly add to his strangeness. We understand right away that although he is brilliant - he is also insane. He even keeps a wax figure of the actress in his secret room upstairs.
The actress's (Frances Drake) husband is a famous composer and pianist whose hands are crushed in a train accident. After told by reputable surgeons that the hands can't be saved, the wife visits the creepy Doctor who agrees, after seeing the execution of a knife throwing murderer at the guillotine, to do the operation. Of course he transfers the hands of the executed killer to those of the piano player. You have the feeling that the Doctor has ulterior motives.
With a successful transplant the piano player thinks he can return to his former profession but his failure at that makes him frustrated - a frustration he exhibits by throwing pens and knives at people he hates, just like the guy who was executed did. The hands of the killer still carry within them the need to kill.
When he tells this to the surgeon, Dr. Gogol gives him bad advice in the hopes that the piano player will kill someone, thus giving the surgeon a clear shot at the actress. It's all very sinister but unlike later movies that use the same theme, both the husband and wife seem to suspect early on that the good and brilliant Dr. Gogol is a loon.
The piano player then meets a mysterious man who may or may not be the criminal that was guillotined early in the movie and whose hands were used to fix the piano player. His appearance must have scared the crap out of audiences in 1935.
The entire movie, in fact, is unsettling, with Lorre playing one of the most deranged killers in movie history. It`s a fantastic performance and one of those lost gems from the early days of movies that you might want to check out.
I forever stand vigilant to protect this planet from the myriad of forces that are always against us. Be it the octopus, zombies, aliens or the robots my team of human agents, and our feline allies, circle the globe in a never ending struggle for human freedom.
I learn all I can on every subject that interests me. I especially enjoy ancient history because in the past there are valuable lessons to be found. Also, if I ever get my time machine to work properly, it would be good to know a bit about possible destinations and what to expect when I get there.
I greatly appreciate beautiful design. Be it manufactured or found naturally I am fascinated by the process of invention. I am attracted to the unique, the strange, the haunted. I like to share what I find on this blog.
And not let us forget the 'Cephalopod Menace' who, if allowed to, would wrap their tentacles around all that is good and pure in this life and crush it until it remained no more. They are creatures of pure spite. Hate is all they know. Death is all they do. They are our most ruthless and determined enemy.
So we fight. Selena has the celebrity contacts, the cat is ruthless and without pity, Roosevelt's ghost has the experience and I do the wetwork.
Fighting for the future of the planet doesn't have to be a chore, however. We can take the time to appreciate all that is cool in this world even as we cut the octopus into bite sized chunks.
This is the reason there has always been and must forever be, a Cave of Cool. Be sure to wipe your feet before you enter.