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BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS

 Unrated   DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Film icon Peter Lorre turns in yet another memorable performance in this eerie classic set in a small town in Italy. Hilary Cummins (Lorre), the devoted secretary to wheelchair-bound piano virtuoso Francis Ingram (Victor Francen), has a passion for the occult. Poring through every book on the supernatural he can find in Ingram's vast library, Hilary begins to imagine strange and terrifying things. But after Ingram's tragic death, the line between reality and unimaginable terror is blurred as the severed hand from Ingram's corpse begins killing everyone in the villa! Also starring Robert Alda and Andrea King, The Beast with Five Fingers is filled with wit, thrills and shocking plot twists!

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The creeping hand... May 29 2003
By Eva25at
Format:VHS Tape
Victor Francen, a very wealthy man, is unable to cope with the fact that his stunted hand has robbed him of his greatest pleasure: piano-playing. He feels nothing but contempt for the sycophants who beleaguer his house: Legacy-hunters and permanent resident Peter Lorre who "studies" in his library - they all sponge on him. Imagine the indignation of his relatives when his testament is opened and his nurse (Andrea King) is his sole heiress! They contest the will and Lorre fears the loss of "his" beloved books. But soon they realize that they have more to fear than just the loss of their inheritance: Francen's hand displays its individual existence, creeps around the house and strangles everybody unreasonable enough to stay...
Why is everybody standing petrified while the hand is climbing up their body? Why don't they simply decamp? The film is neither as eerie as it should have been, nor as funny. The part with the testament drags on and the leading actor looks like a stage-villain with his beard. On the other hand it has a feeling for the 1890ies italian atmosphere and Peter Lorre plays with great gusto. With his haircut he could replace Demi Moore in G.I JANE every minute and he enjoys himself when he casts the horoscope of his supporting players and describes with glee the pangs of death that await them. The star player however - Francen's severed hand - needs some acting lessons: its performance is better than that of Michael Caine's hand in THE HAND (1981, directed by Oliver Stone), but not as good as Conrad Veit's hands in ORLACS HÄNDE (1924).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars his Bach is worse than his bite Aug. 9 2001
Format:VHS Tape
In their Hollywood in the Forties book, writers Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg attest that director Robert Florey disowned the studio cut of his film. Florey shot the story as seen through the eyes of Peter Lorre as an assistant to a disabled pianist whose hand it is believed is responsible for murder. Florey was confident the audience would be smart enough to realise that what we were seeing is not objective reality but rather Lorre's tormented vision. What survives is only redeemed by Lorre's hallucinations with the disembodied hand, his own manic intensity, handprints in the dirt, and the professional mourners hired to chant for the dead pianist. Otherwise we get stuck with a sappy romance between Robert Alda as a local fake antique sealer and big-haired Andrea King as the pianist's nurse, and static scenes of talk. The screenplay by Curt Siodmak gives Lorre an interest in "the secrets of the ancient astrologists, lost since the burning of the Alexandrian library", and the logic that someone could have been playing the piano other than the hand in "because nobody's ever heard you play, that doesn't mean you can't". The special effects of the hand require some getting used to since one naturally expects it to be a fake and therefore is looking at the mechanics, as in darkened sleave or blocking that can cheat the shot as when the hand is supposed to grab someone's throat behind a door or we get a hand POV shot. However there are moments where disbelief is suspended. The film's most bizarre... image is the disembodied hand, extending it's ring finger for Peter Lorre to replace the ring the pianist used to wear.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A creepily atmospheric horror tale. Oct. 1 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Altho nominally based on a short story by W.F. Harvey, this film uses only the title (a great title!) and the basic gimmick of a living disembodied hand. A bit too slow-moving, but with several memorably scary scenes that have that perfect atmosphere you can only get with an old black-&-white horror film. The final "evil plot and hallucinations" payoff is not really satisfying, but Peter Lorre is at his unique best as a revenge-crazed madman. He dominates the film, despite his third billing. The scenes involving the living hand are technically excellent, and probably could not be improved on today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Peter Lorre horror April 14 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
It takes a while to get the story rolling but when it does, the payoff is fantastic. Peter Lorre is so over-the-top pathetic and creepy, it's almost up there with his insanely perfect acting in "Mad Love" (1935). There has never been an actor like him and there never will be. Furthermore this story of an avenging hand must have inspired films like "The Crawling Hand", "Evil Dead 2" etc. Forget crud like "Scream" check out this near-classic horror tale.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peter Lorre is indeed one of a kind!! Aug. 30 2004
By Tuco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
A superb and atmospheric early horror film with fine acting, super effects, tight script and haunting soundtrack. Lorre is in top form and the severed hand effects(in most cases)easily stand up against 1991's Addams Family 'Thing' effects.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the fantastic horror score by the great Max Steiner. The score to this film was re-recorded by William Stromberg and is available on two different compilation CD's right here on Amazon:

STEINER: Lost Patrol (The) / Virginia City

Murder and Mayhem: Suites from The Lodger (1944 Film) / The Beast With Five Fingers (1946 Film) / The Uninvited (1944 Film) [3 on 1]

Worth a watch just for the magnificent Mr. Peter Lorre's delivery of the single line "It was the hand I tell you!!!"
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally on DVD Oct. 16 2013
By William Amazzini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Director Robert Florey's 'THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS'-1946 finally gets a DVD release from Warner Archive's DVD-R collection. Shown sporadically on Turner Classic Movies, it finally allows access to one of actor Peter Lorre's best roles as secretary to a famed concert pianist played sinisterly by venerable Victor Francen who at his death leaves everything to his pretty niece played by Andrea King causing Lorre to have murder on the mind and suddenly seeing the pianist's hand turning up at the most inopportune times. Actor Robert Alda plays the (is he or isn't he?) good guy and the great character actor J. Carrol Naish plays the inspector slinking around the mansion spewing wise cracks. The film emerges as an eerie excursion of guilt ridden terror and is let down by a humorous ending. The cinematography by Wesley Anderson enhances the proceedings showing how Director Florey should have had a better reputation in the Horror field. He and Lorre also collaborated in the underrated masterpiece 'THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK'-1941 which as yet has not seen a digital release. Warner Archive releases 'BEAST' in a nice transfer showing off the atmosphere of the proceedings but no extras. Although the price is a bit steep, it deserves to be in every classic Horror fans collection.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Peter Lorre horror April 14 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
It takes a while to get the story rolling but when it does, the payoff is fantastic. Peter Lorre is so over-the-top pathetic and creepy, it's almost up there with his insanely perfect acting in "Mad Love" (1935). There has never been an actor like him and there never will be. Furthermore this story of an avenging hand must have inspired films like "The Crawling Hand", "Evil Dead 2" etc. Forget crud like "Scream" check out this near-classic horror tale.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic from the old SciFi Mystery Theater days. Nov. 23 2013
By J. Dunlap - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's funny how this purchase came about. I was talking to a co worker about this movie not being available and within days Warner Brothers released it, however, it was more expensive than Amazon's price. This copy is very clean with perfect audio.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally on dvd! Nov. 30 2013
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Lovely sharp print of this long-impossible-to-find minor gem. Like quite a few films of this period it's weakened (at the start) by rather too much light comedy, & so isn't a classic in the way say the Val Lewton b-movies are. However, Peter Lorre's performance is great, and the last half-hour (of an hour & 25 minutes) is really atmospheric, & the creeping hand effects are (in the main) really very good indeed. No extras to speak of - just the original trailer (how lumpy trailers used to be!) which has an enjoyably histrionic tone.
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