A horror spoof about a disembodied hand, Raise Your Hand…From the Dead! affects over-the-top exuberance of ’80s splatter-films (like 1987’s Evil Dead II, it contains a jokey reference to Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms), but in structure and content it comes closer to ’60s sleaze-fests like The Crawling Hand and Face of the Screaming Werewolf. Like the latter, it stitches horror set-pieces together with scenes of two detectives driving from one atrocity to the next, usually arriving too late to do anything; their dialogue is delivered in clipped, hard-boiled rhythms littered with deliberately ridiculous tough-guy metaphors whose meaning inevitably requires a jokey explanation. The humorous impact is amplified by the fact that the “tough-guy” detectives are actually tough chicks: Cj Merriman as Private Investigator Shaker and Natalie Nicole Dressel as retired Animal Control Detective Palmer, both doing their best Raymond Chandler by way of Dragnet impressions.
As if this were not enough outrageous fun, the Hand is played by an actress (Marian Gonzalez) covered up to her wrist in a black leotard. Her lethal dexterity and expressive gestures are a hilarious highlight as the beast with five fingers (yes, the 1946 film is name-checked in the dialogue) pops out of nowhere, effortlessly terminates hapless humans, and even communicates signs of remorse via Morse Code (which of course one of the characters understands). It’s all very funny and goes a long way toward making Raise Your Hand…From the Dead! an enjoyable romp.
Unfortunately, Raise Your Hand…From the Dead! gets only about halfway there. Gradually, the jokes wear thin. As Shaker and Palmer get closer to unraveling the mystery, the focus shifts from them to the Hand and its human accomplices, including a generic mad scientist, whose campy maniacal laughter is less amusing than the deadpan delivery of Merriman and Dressel. The plot twists and character revelations are goofy enough to register as parody, but they are not as funny as watching the Hand-puppet crash a puppet show, throttling both a puppet and the puppet master. As is sensing that the energy is flagging, the script tosses in a bomb threat at the climax, which seems rather out of place. At least ending provides a final revelation that amusingly scuttles audience suspicion about the Hand’s origin.
Raise Your Hand From the Dead
1 – Avoid
2 – Not all bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See
- Natalie Dressel as Animal Control Detective Palmer
- Cj Merriman as Private Investigator Shaker
- Scott Leggett as Dr. Manos
- Angela Oliver as Pinkie
- Ian Walker Price as Trip/Mr. Thubson
- Marian Gonzalez as The Hand
- Tee Vaden as the Narrator
Crew: Written by Natalie Nicole Dressel. Directed by Jay Dutcher. Produced by Natalie Nicole Dressel, Cj Merriman, Scott Leggett. Stage Manager: Rebecca Schoenberg. Intimacy Coordinator: Nedra Gallegos. Fight Choreographer: Tyler Stillwill. 45 mins
Raise Your Hand…From the Dead gives final performance at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival on Saturday June 24 at 7pm in the The Broadwater’s Black Box theatre. The address is 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Get more information here.