The action starts with a mysterious figure breaking into a morgue and chopping off an arm of a corpse. We then see them wrap it up and drop it in the mail. As a side note we watch a mailman make the special delivery and if you look really close it is Angus Scrimm! The man who gets the arm is named Jeff and he seems very disturbed by its arrival. He makes a call and heads off to see his friend Ray, who is a doctor. I only say this because when he arrives the doc opens up his liquor cabinet. God the seventies were cool…
Back to the story. The pair say it must be Ted, who is a raving maniac. Why is he like that? In an extended flashback we see that six men all went cave diving and got trapped underground. In an effort to hold off starvation they draw lots and much to his dismay lop off Ted’s arm for supper. Though immediately after the deed is done rescuers arrive to save them. That was terrible timing. As a group, except for poor old Ted, they all agree to lie and say he lost his arm in the cave-in. Ted goes crazy and ends up in an institution. But now it appears he is back for revenge. Sure, enough the five men in the conspiracy start to die and lose their right arms. Who lives and who dies? Is it Ted who is killing them? You will need to watch this movie to find out.
|A man has to eat!
There are many familiar faces, mostly from television, in the cast. Marvin Kaplan, Paul Carr, and Deborah Walley should all be recognized by fans. They do a great job in their roles bringing the characters to life. Again, the writing is a huge help, but casting veteran actors in the roles doesn’t hurt. Far too many independent movies are drug down with bad writing and/or acting. With The Severed Arm this is a strength.
For an early seventies’ movie, I was impressed with the level of gore. We see a few severed arms with lots of bright red blood on screen. There is more than once where the hatchet comes down again and again. While we don’t see it hit the editing is such that the attack feels violent and visceral. The body count is a bit light at only four, but the ending more than makes up for it. While not another kill it hints at a fate worse than death. This movie pulls no punches and I dig it for that.
This is why I keep searching thru the piles of “to watch” movies. Sure, a lot of them end up being miserable but I’d sit thru ten of those (and have!) to get to one gem like The Severed Arm. I highly recommend that you find yourself a copy of this right away. It is worth your time and money.
© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer