I recently took the opportunity to sit down and watch Sergio Garrone's mad doctor/face transplant thriller THE HAND THAT FEEDS THE DEAD starring Klaus Kinski. The only print I had of the film at the time was a dub of a Turkish VHS secured from Luminous Film and Video Works a few years ago.
I wasn't totally crazy about the flick and felt that there were plotlines that went nowhere and some questionable character motivations, not to mention subtitling courtesy of Luminous that I felt might be a bit dubious.
Well, I'm happy to report that the new Mya DVD version of the flick – titled EVIL FACE – is a vast improvement over such grey market versions in pretty much every facet of the presentation, including the original Italian audio and score (the Luminous version features Turkish dubbing and a different score) and an improved source video (possibly the old GVR Italian VHS?).
Video and audio improvements aside, the biggest improvements here are subtitles that make the dialogue and storyline almost logical (well, as logical as a story about face transplants and mad doctors can be) and the restoration of about 10-15 minutes of footage cut from the Turkish print. Though the new scenes don't provide any additional Kinski moments, they do eliminate a couple head-scratching moments early in the film.
For a quick look at how the Luminous and Mya versions compare, here are some screen captures that should convince any Kinski fans on the fence about the purchase to take the plunge and upgrade their copy.
Kinski gets top billing in the Italian credits (bottom), not so the Turkish credits which give top billing to Turkish star Ayhan Isik (also in Garrone's LOVER OF THE MONSTER which was filmed on the same sets with the same cast, crew and costumes).
The first appearance of Professor Nijinski (Kinski) as his handicapped man servant (Vania in the Mya version, "Johnson" [?!] on the Luminous tape) emerges from the woods on a mission from Tanja, the professor's mysterious, shrouded wife.
It wouldn't be 70s Eurotrash without some fine, feminine forms on display and EVIL FACE/ HAND THAT FEEDS is no exception. Here Sonia (Stella Calderoni) displays her wares for the relunctant Kinski. I wonder if another, even racier version of the film exists. The Mya DVD blog includes photos from an Italian eBay auction featuring clothed and nude versions of shots from this same scene.
What's this?! It's additional footage from the Mya disc as Katja (Marzia Damon) explores the castle's underground passages.
Here Katja searches Tanja's bedroom in a crucial scene missing from the Luminous tape. As she searches the room we see mirrors covered in black paint and candelabras without candles, sure signs that something is afoot in Castle Nijinski. The Luminous tape combines brief shots from this scene with scenes of Katja searching the castle library.
Here the Fake Kinski prepares to operate on Tanja and a poor, unsuspecting victim.
Future Oscar winner Carlo Rambaldi's burn effects look a bit grislier in the Mya version (bottom)...
...not to mention the peeled face of Nijinski and Tanja's final victim.
Here, Kinski delivers his price-of-admission scene as he commiserates with Tanja's beloved doll about how they've been pushed aside, discarded.
The Mya disc provides a significant upgrade over the Turkish print from Luminous and gets a definite thumbs up from The Klaus Kinski Files.