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September 1999, Week 4


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 14:01:02 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (74 lines)
Klaus Bardenhagen requests:

> I am looking for films that follow the pattern of Robert Wiene's ORLAC'S
> HANDS (1924) or Maurice Renard's original novel: Somebody is influenced by
> organs he got from a transplantation, e.g. haunted by the evil spirit of the
> donator.
> Of course, there are the "official" remakes: Mad Love, The Hands of Orlac
> (starring Christopher Lee), Hands of a Stranger (1962).
> Then there is Body Parts (1991, Jeff Fahey) and Blink (Madeline Stowe). I
> heard of some Italian horror films and a Tales From the Crypt-episode, as
> well as an episode from Carpenter/Hooper's Body Bags, but could not get a lot
> of information on this.
> I am trying to work out the influence Wiene's film had on the development
> of the thriller/horror genre as well as the implications/themes of this
> particular story: why is it so popular, what basic anxieties does it touch?

The BODY BAGS episode is about a *hair* transplant!

Some other possible films include:

THE HAND (1981), with Michael Caine
DEMONOID, MESSENGER OF DEATH (1981)--I am not making this up!
The prototype is probably Mary Shelly's FRANKENSTEIN, with its various
film versions, remakes, sequels and variations
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is an interesting variation on theme (as is the
title character in DR. STRANGELOVE)
Also see Sam Raimi's THE EVIL DEAD II
PERCY (1971) involves a penis transplant!
There are many low-budget and forgettable films (horror, comic or
both--or neither!) about brain transplants
A rather better use of the exploitation premises is RE-ANIMATOR
And don't forget "Thing" from THE ADDAMS FAMILY TV show and films!

Some speculations on the theme:
Shelly's theme, of course, puts the burden on the human scientist who
desire to be the New Prometheus, to use new-found knowledge to create
or re-create life.  The hubris of taking on God-like powers has the
emphasis in that case.

On the other hand (so to speak), the notion of transplants speaks to
more ancient notions of the parts of the body as individual agents
within a unified whole.  (Consider Jesus' injunctions: "If thy hand
offend thee, cut if off.  If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out.")  Some
straightforward films about heart transplants, for example, play off of
the startlingly silly questions that were asked by some reporters about
early heart transplants--Is this the same person?  Can he/she still
love? etc.

One ongoing theme in horror films has to do with the violation of the
body, while another major theme has to do with the preservation of the
body while the "self" is damaged or extinguished (eg. INVASION OF THE
BODY SNATCHERS).  Films like the ALIEN tetraogy play off of both
fears.  So, in a different way, do these kinds of transplant films.

Don Larsson

Donald Larsson
Minnesota State U, Mankato
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