Monday, June 23, 2014

Spell of the Hypnotic Chord

Ace Magazine reprinted this Louis Zansky tale of a concert pianist given the hands of a killer in their final issue of The Beyond #30, but here it is from its first cover story appearance in the May 1951 issue of The Beyond #4 (see our last post for more from this issue, and one more story coming up in our next post too for another FULL ISSUE presentation here at THOIA!)









11 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

This is an interesting one. It was a "get a body part from somebody seeking revenge" story, but had the throwaway "mystical piano chord" part which worked it's way into the title, even though it was a minor story component.

The other odd thing is the knife-thrower plot; it's different but at the same time it's nowhere near murder, manslaughter (cliche sexy comic assistant-slaughter) at best. Certainly not a hanging offense. You could certainly see his ghost wanting revenge!

Page 5/Panel 4 is great. If anything ghostly every happens around me and I'm alone, I'm going to stare away from it but point to it, like I'm announcing prizes on a game show!

Mestiere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Cavin said...

Damn, never get on the same train as a concert pianist.

Man, this plot never gets old! I guess the regularity of this sort of posthumous anatomical revenge crime is why the CDC began instructing these circus knife guys to throw from the shoulder instead of the hand. Okay, okay, lame joke; but it does point to the source material's superior construction--I can way more easily imagine the murderer's hands being effective knife-wielding psychopaths than effective knife-throwing ones.

I also have to agree with Mr. Barnes about the implausibility of page two, even though that is my favorite page. I am charmed by the idea that audiences might be expected to rise-up and violently retaliate as an act of advocacy for the victim of a performance accident, and would have been far more interested in the story if they'd lynch-mobbed him outright and his vengeful ghost had to tackle the lot of them. Maybe the next person to take up the mantle of this plot is within the sound of my comment? I hope so.

Turok1952 said...

It never ceases to amaze me how similar in layout and art the similarities between Louis Zansky and Jack Kirby (my all-time favorite). Can anyone educate me about why this might be so? Or am I seeing things that are not there?

Mestiere said...

Since the comment I posted yesterday seems to have been eaten by the internet i'll try to recreate it.

The story is inspired by the 1924 Austrian film Orlacs Hände (The Hands of Orlac). In it a pianist loses his hands in a railway accident and has them replaced by those of an executed murderer. Orlac feels an attraction to knives and a compulsion to kill. When his father appears stabbed to death and the dead murderer's fingerprints are found at the scene Orlac starts thinking he is the killer. But the real killer is a con man who planted the fingerprints using latex gloves molded around the executed man's hands. He was trying to blackmail Orlac.

The first succesful transplant of an organ happened years after this comic, the movie or the novel it was based on (Les Mains d'Orlac 1920 by Maurice Renard) were created. But, intriguingly, when transplants actually happened the phenomenon of the recipient acquiring preferences, habits and personality traits from the donor turned out to be real.

JMR777 said...

As a followup to Mestiere's comments, Hollywood revisited this story several times after The Hands of Orlac, namely Body Parts (1991), Hands of a Stranger (1962), and the cult classic Mad Love (1935) Starring the one and only Peter Lorre.

Grant said...

Of course, MAD LOVE came up with a real twist, by making the surgeon (the Peter Lorre character) a lot stranger than the musician.

Grant said...

There's also another one called THE HANDS OF ORLAC, with Mel Ferrer as the musician and Christopher Lee as the blackmailer.

Mr. Cavin said...

And I think it's time to take it to the next step, even: Imagine how creepy it would be if our surgeon character is the virtuoso who's in need of an impromptu hand transplant. I imagine that, at the end of the day, this top-of-the-line doctor can get a lot more practical, emergency support for such an unorthodox undertaking than a concert pianist could muster. Friends in the biz, riches, it's all very plausible. Then, the rest of the movie would be about him maneuvering those who had wronged the psychopath's transplants into unnecessary horror surgeries (a la American Mary or Dead Ringers). Now that's my kind of movie.

Trevor Markwart said...

Don't forget the very memorably THRILLER episode, The Terror In Teakwood. It is great stuff, though MAD LOVE is a crazy masterpiece and my favourite take on the story that deserves more recognition than it usually gets.

Karswell said...

Neato array of comments on this post, thanks everyone! I love when we get onto subjects of related films / and original stories etc...

The final tale from this issue coming right up!