By Steve D. Stones
Alan Hale, who starred as the skipper on Gilligan’s Island, plays the sheriff of a small west coast town in this 1963 low-budget sci-fi feature - The Crawling Hand. The film features the song “The Bird’s The Word” by the Rivingtons. Producer Joseph F. Robertson also produced another cult classic from a year earlier in 1962 – The Slime People. Robertson was an army buddy of cult director Ed Wood.
A Swedish curvy cutie named Marta and her James Dean wanna-be boyfriend Paul find the severed arm of an astronaut washed up on the shore of a small coastal town. Paul returns in the night to retrieve the arm in a shower curtain. Paul later finds his landlady dead – strangled to death by the hand of the astronaut.
The sheriff suspects Paul of killing his landlady. When he arrives at the scene, he discovers a recently fired handgun lying on the floor next to the dead landlady.
While making a telephone call to the Florida space program where the astronaut was launched from, Paul is choked by the crawling hand. Paramedics arrive to treat Paul, but he flees the vehicle. The paramedics inform the sheriff of his strange behavior. This makes the sheriff even more suspicious of Paul.
The fingerprints taken from the scene of the murder of the landlady reveal that an astronaut named Lockhart committed the crime. The sheriff still thinks Paul is responsible.
The crawling hand exhibits a strange control over Paul’s thoughts and behavior. He refuses to see Marta ever again and becomes violent and out of control. He chokes the owner of a local malt shop, then attempts to do the same to Marta.
Paul captures the crawling hand and stabs it with broken glass at the city salvage yard as the sheriff arrives to arrest him. Two cats chew up the hand and eat it. The curse of the crawling hand ends, and Paul and Marta ride off into the sunset - sort of speak.
Some critics have suggested that The Crawling Hand is an anti-space travel, anti-space program propaganda movie when really the film is just a straight-forward sci-fi feature aimed at the teenage drive-in market of the 1960s. Happy viewing!