Thomas S. Alderman’s The Severed Arm is a relatively unnoticed ’70s horror film about revenge and severed limbs. It’s a fairly smart movie, too!
I wasn’t alive in the 1970s. In fact, most of my exposure to films happened during the early 1990s. While some earlier, rarer horror films gradually made their way into my life, The Severed Arm managed to elude me until recently. I like it, even without the nostalgia factor. The basic story is that, some time ago, a group of cave explorers got stuck. After several days, they were left with the grim option of partially consuming one of their own — named Ted Rogers (Ray Dannis) — for survival.
They eventually do just that, only not long before they are rescued. If that’s not enough, the group lies and says his arm was crushed by rocks! Obviously, the man with the severed arm might not be happy about that. Still, is he the one taunting them after the fact? Has he been sending them wacky packages with severed arms in them? I simply like the concept behind this film. You have the peril of a cave-in, a group deciding to sever and consume someone’s arm with a handy-dandy knife, and the idea that he’s ready to get revenge.
Will it be “an arm for an arm?,” or is he less reciprocal? Also, is it possible to make amends to somebody apparently hellbent on revenge? This film encourages you to ask a number of interesting, potentially challenging questions.
My Favorite Character in The Severed Arm
For fairly obvious reasons, my favorite character is “Mad Man” Herman (Marvin Kaplan). He is sort of a shock radio host, only before Howard Stern. Like Howard Stern claims to be, the “Mad Man” seems to be naturally shy and introverted in “real life,” and overcompensating for it with his shtick. While he’s a little too eager to say offensive and weird things on the air, he seems like a decent and relatable guy.
He reminds me of the stereotypical class clown, wanting to be a center of attention. This makes for an interesting dynamic when faced with a maniac. His humorous mask eventually must fall, and it’s interesting to see if he’ll face death with laughter, or if he’ll pathetically plea for mercy. More simply, he’s a guy I didn’t want to die. However, tragedy is part of the nature of horror. Sometimes we lose the characters we want to win.
The Severed Arm also features David G. Cannon, Paul Carr, John Crawford, Deborah Walley and Angus Scrimm. Yes, [italics] that Angus Scrimm. He only plays a very minor role here, and is in fact uncredited. However, if you’re a Scrimm completist, you’ll definitely need to watch this film! While The Severed Arm lacks big name talent, I think some people will share my opinion that it’s a worthwhile little film. It’s a bit of a thinking man’s horror tale, but far from overly analytical about it (possibly unlike this review).
Have you seen The Severed Arm? If so, let us know what you think…also, please return it back to its owner, ASAP!