The Hand of the Assassin

The Hand of the Assassin

Don't pay attention. The drugs make me say more than I want.

Just as Margarita (Katia Loritz) and Romano (José Caffarel) are closing their hotel for the season, the place fills up, as a group of travelers are stranded by a storm, which has cut the power and phone lines. That night at dinner, while Margarita is singing a song in the darkness to entertain her guests, one of the visitors, Oscar, is murdered and his suitcase filled with cash is stolen. Who could have done it? Oscar's heroin-addicted wife, Elena (Perla Cristal)? Shifty salesman Suarez (Fernando Sancho)? Or maybe the high-strung old grandmother (Julia Delgado Caro) isn't as feeble as she looks. As the mystery unfolds, more guests turn up dead. With no help from the police, the other guests must find the killer before it's too late.

The Hand of the Assassin (not to be confused with A... For Assassin) is a rare but well-made early Spanish giallo that borrows both gothic conventions and a Bava-esque visual language.  The cinematography by Victor Monreal is really remarkable, combining some beautiful compositions and unexpected camera movement with a painterly sense of shadows, light and color. The basic locked-room murder mystery plot is augmented by interesting characters, some great twists and a coda featuring an exciting chase scene around a series of bridges and waterfalls. Check this one out.

  • The direct translation of the Spanish title is The Face of the Assassin.
  • The Italian title is L'Assassino é Tra Noi Sette, or The Killer is Among Us Seven, which makes zero sense because there are at least a dozen suspects.  Six years later, the similarly titled The Killer is One of Thirteen would be released.
  • This movie features one of my all-time favorite giallo actors - George Rigoud as the Colonel. You may remember him from The Case of the Bloody Iris, Death Walks on High Heels and A Lizard in Woman's Skin
  • Please note that the José Ferrer in this cast is not the Academy Award-winning José Ferrer from Laurence of Arabia and Cyrano de Bergerac.
  •  Much like Bava's 1971 classic Twitch of the Death Nerve (a.k.a. Bay of Blood), this film features a professor who collects insect specimens.
  • The title "sort of" makes sense because it's so generic. Yes, the killer used their hands to murder people (as opposed to a gun), but hands aren't a clue or a plot point in any way. Maybe it would make more sense if they left a unique ring mark on their victims' necks after strangling them.
What the Hell am I Watching?

 Early in the movie butler Paolo goes down to the "mineral cellar," which is a large, creepy room filled with bubbling cauldrons of dry ice. Throughout the movie this is treated as a normal thing that hotels have in their cellars.

Fashion Moment

There's not a lot to report here, but former actress Margerita seems to enjoy standing out from the crowd. When we first meet her, she's lazing around the empty hotel in this frilly nightgown, not giving any f's.

But she spends most of the rest of the movie in a leopard print top - a flashy contrast to her guests' more conservative solid-colored attire.

1 comment:

  1. It's a bit of a looker, this one, isn't it? I think Magerita's white catsuit is worthy of a mention on the fashion-front, personally :-) I'm a big fan of George Rigaud, too - was he congenitally wrinkled from birth, or did he cultivate the dishcloth look to further his career?