Following up on my review of the Creepy Creature Double Feature Volume One DVD, let’s take a look on what volume two has to offer. The selection is a step above volume one but is still hovering around the lower end of the typical B movie offerings. First up, The Crawling Hand (1963).
Much like The Monster From The Ocean Floor, this movie has a definite made-for-TV feel to it. An incredibly cheap opening title sequence leads into our opening segment. Steve Curan (Peter Breck, TV’s The Big Valley) works for a space agency and is dealing with another loss of an astronaut after not hearing any word for nine hours. After Steve and his partner begin mourning another failure, a frantic message is received begging for help. Some 20 minutes has passed since the air ran out and the astronaut couldn’t possibly be alive. When they see the image coming in, he appears to be the living dead (or at least the pasty-faced, black-eyed version). The spacecraft blows up but we soon discover that not all of him was destroyed. Cut to our main victim Paul Lawrence (Rod Lauren, Black Zoo) and his girlfriend Marta (Sirry Stefan) who are frolicking on the beach when they discover a severed arm. Paul takes the arm thinking it’s his ticket to fame and glory. However, the arm comes back to life and kills Paul’s landlady before it attacks him, possessing him into a murderous rampage.
The movie actually looks really good and the crawling hand sequences don’t come off looking as cheap as one would anticipate following the title sequence. The transformation sequences that display Paul’s going from good to bad weren’t much though and the makeup really does resemble a zombielike appearance. However, the movie surpasses low expectations mostly due to a recognizable cast. Peter Breck is best known amongst 60s and 70s TV hounds as Nick Barkley in The Big Valley. Film historians will also remember him from Shock Corridor (1963). Watching him here you clearly see that much of who Peter Breck was as an actor is visible in his portrayals on screen. Several times I could easily hear and see Nick Barkley acting out in his typical hot-headed fashion. Alan Hale Jr. plays Sheriff Townsend, putting in a very good small town performance. Hale is best remembered as the goofy Skipper on the TV classic Gilligan’s Island. However, his earliest roles usually had him in a much gruffer persona than he would be known for as the Skipper. Another familiar face is Allison Hayes as Donna, Steve’s assistant. Hayes is best known for her starring role in Attack of the 50-Foot Woman (1958). Sadly, she has very little to do here.
Director and writer Herbert Stock did most of his work in the 50s and 60s. While he never achieved star directing status, he did leave his mark with several B movie classics such as Gog (1954), I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (1957) and How To Make A Monster (1958). He also is responsible for several episodes of Boris Karloff’s “lost” series The Veil and Science Fiction Theatre.
One odd highlight of the movie is the prominent use of The Rivington’s hit song “The Bird’s The Word”, even getting a special mention after The End of the movie and being used in the trailer. It doesn’t fit the movie but clearly somebody felt the need to include a popular song to attract attention to an otherwise forgettable movie at the time. This was a common practice amongst B movies of the day but not usually with a hit song.
The second film on the DVD is a slightly more well-known flick called The Slime People (1963). Barry Harding did a great write-up over at his blog, monsterminions, so no need to go into any more details here. It’s a fun film about reptile creatures coming up from the ground and using a mysterious fog to conquer Los Angeles. Yes, it makes no sense but it is fun for an afternoon matinee. I enjoyed both films in volume two for what they were. The only time I had seen these before were a few years back on AMC, full of commercials and heavily edited. At just $10, take the time to check it out on Amazon. It’s a good addition to your collection and the quality surpasses some previous versions.