Monday, January 24, 2011

The Severed Arm (1973)

The Severed Arm

Written & Directed by Thomas S. Alderman

Jeff Ashton...David G. Cannon
Dr. Sanders...John Crawford
Bill...Vince Martorano
Mark...Paul Carr
Madman Herman...Marvin Kaplan

After "five nightmarish years", the past comes back to haunt a group of estranged friends.  It seems that they all used to share a bit of a foolish hobby:  exploring old, abandoned mines without any concern for their personal well-being.  A hobby like that is going to go south sooner or later (which is why I stick to safer pastimes, like comic book collecting and chain smoking), and a cave-in leaves them trapped beneath the earth, with "no food, and damn little water."

It's actually pretty impressive that they managed to last as long as they did before losing their shit.  After a week, one of them recounts a story about sailors trapped at sea who resorted to cannibalism to survive.  They laugh this off at first, some sort of a sick joke, but a few more weeks later, and it's suddenly not seeming like such a bad idea.

They don't want to kill anyone, of course.  They just want to feast on him.  So they draw straws to see who the lucky donor is, knock his ass out, and chop off the poor fellow's arm.  But no sooner than the hatchet is through the sinew do they hear the tell-tale sounds of a rescue crew.  The remaining quadrupeds blame the amateur amputation on the victim himself, saying that he had gone crazy and cut off his own arm in some misguided attempt at heroism.

Flash forward to "modern" day, and the One-Armed Wonder has escaped from the mental institution and is seeking revenge.

Give him a hand, ladies and gentlemen!

When I saw this available for streaming on Netflix Instant Watch, I was hoping this was some undiscovered gem, on par with Blood Feast, whose sparkling qualities couldn't immediately be seen because it was so thoroughly coated in slime and sleaze.  What I found instead was that there was a definite reason that this has remained undiscovered:  Every time someone discovers it, they are quick to put it back where they found it.

The acting is mediocre, and the special effects and musical score must have cost the filmmakers less than a hundred dollars--even less if they already had a Casiotone Keyboard on hand.  The gore was painfully restrained, and there was virtually no eye candy to be found.  Hell, there weren't even eye carrots.  The majority of this movie was just a bunch of guys shambling around, waiting to die, and being pretty damn passive about the whole thing.

 To be fair, the opening flashback to the fivesome being trapped in the cave had promise, as did the finale.  It's just too bad that both were rushed over so quickly, playing terribly thin but tasty bread on a steaming pile of crap sandwich.

An almost mind-numbingly dull proto-slasher flick.  I'd be hard-pressed to find much of a reason to recommend this to anyone.

Although that title screen was pretty damn sweet.

Rated R
89 Minutes
United States

"I asked you to wait...I begged you...I won't forget!"

1 comment:

  1. An interesting concept. Shame it didn't pan out to a scarefest.


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