A Trailer a Day Keep the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z


Orlacs Haende – The Hands of Orlac 1924

The Hands of Orlac is a 1924 Austrian silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920). The movie is based on the novel “Les Mains d’Orlac” by Maurice Renard and is known for its early exploration of psychological horror themes.

It is the story of Paul Orlac ( Conrad Veidt), a renowned concert pianist who experiences a tragic accident. During a train crash, Orlac’s hands are severely injured and must be amputated. His wife Yvonne (Alexandra Sorina) is devastated by the accident but is relieved when Dr. Serral (Hans Homma) successfully performs a groundbreaking surgery, transplanting new hands for Orlac.

However, as Orlac recovers, he begins to experience strange and disturbing phenomena and believes something is gravely wrong with his new pair of hands, that they may have belonged to a murderer. Orlac’s mental state deteriorates as he becomes increasingly convinced that the hands are influencing him to commit violent and criminal acts.

Haunted by his newfound fears and paranoia, Orlac’s descent into madness intensifies. He must grapple with the question of whether his hands are truly possessed or if his psychological trauma is driving him to madness.

“The Hands of Orlac” is celebrated for its early exploration of themes related to identity, mental anguish, and the blurred boundaries between reality and the supernatural.

Conrad Veidt’s performance in “The Hands of Orlac” (1924) begins with the physical transformation of his character. After the accident that maims his hands, Veidt effectively conveys Orlac’s torment (One need only see his Gwynplaine in Paul Leni’s expressionist masterpiece The Man Who Laughs 1928), pain, suffering, and vulnerability. His facial expressions and body language convey the anguish and despair of a once-talented pianist who has lost his ability to play. As the film progresses, Veidt masterfully delves into the psychological torment experienced by Orlac. He skillfully manifests the growing paranoia, fear, vulnerability, and confusion as he becomes convinced that his new hands are responsible for a series of murders.

Conrad Veidt was known for his expressive eyes, and in The Hands of Orlac, he uses this distinctive feature to great effect. His eyes communicate Orlac’s inner turmoil drawing the audience into the character’s psychological torture, transcending the medium of sound, it relies heavily on visual storytelling and Veidt’s ironically expressive face and body language.

The story has been adapted as Karl Freund’s 1935 film Mad Love starring Peter Lorre in an over-the-top role as Doctor Gogol and A French-British production The Hands of Orlac 1960 starring Mel Ferrer.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’…  hold out your hands and get ready for the letter P!

Reccuring Iconography in Classic Noir, Suspense & Horror: Stairs…

Battleship Potemkin 1925- Sergei Eisenstein known for his montage framing and editing offers up the epic dramatization of the social uprising in Russia, which brought about a grim massacre with an iconic scene of the baby carriage plummeting down the great stone steps.
Dr. Caligari’s somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt) ascends the abstraction of a stairway to nowhere…in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
F.W. Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece of shadow and light. With subtle prominence, the silhouette of the stair rails makes cogent the sinister outline of Max Schreck’s Nosferatu all the more.
Alfred Hitchcock’s crime thriller Blackmail (1929).
She 1935 Irving Pichel and Lansing C Holden’s fantastical saga based on H. Rider Haggard’s novel about an ancient esoteric civilization reigned over by the cruel high priestess She who must be obeyed, upon the steps by the secret eternal flame of everlasting youth! with an intoxicating score by Max Steiner.
Again in 1935, SHE was released in both B&W and a gorgeous colorized version. I’ll be doing a larger overview of the film very soon. Using images from both.
Steps upon steps, leading to divinity, or leading to death?
Thorold Dickinson’s hauntingly sinister fable- The Queen of Spades 1949- See the intricate network of elaborate stairs that wind within the vast manor house, which lead to the infamous lady who bet her soul away to the devil in order to win at a game of cards.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946) Cary Grant carries Ingrid Bergman to safety down the moonlit stone steps.

Charlie Chaplin in City Lights 1931.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho 1960.

Jack Clayton’s The Innocents 1961 starring Deborah Kerr.

In notorious (1946) Claude Rains stands alone facing his fate up those moonlit stone steps…the end scene.

Siodmak’s The Spiral Staircase 1946 Ethel Barrymore, Dorothy Maguire, & Elsa Lanchester.

Douglas Sirk’s Thunder on the Hill 1951 starring Claudette Colbert.

Lewis Allen’s The Uninvited 1945- Stars Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey.

The Picture of Dorian Gray 1945 with George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield.


I’ll be heading back up the ‘steps’ here at the drive-in, be well- MonsterGirl!