Wow. I’ve been wanting to see this odd little gem from early in Oliver Stone’s career ever since I read about it in Mike C.’s TRILOGY PICKS post several months back. I’m surprised that I actually hadn’t heard of it before then. Michael Caine? Oliver Stone? Wacky concept about a killer hand? I’m freakin’ sold! And thankfully, so is Warner Brothers because they dug deep into their horror catalog to unleash this some-what long lost gem.
Michael Caine stars as Jonathan Lansdale, a successful comic book artist who loses his hand in a terrible car accident. The process to heal himself, try to fix his failing marriage and get some sort of normalcy in his life after the accident has been difficult. His career is over, he’s losing his wife and to top it all off, they never even found his freakin’ hand! (Oh, you SEE it get lopped off. Keep those hands INSIDE the car, kids!) Slowly but surely, the people causing Jonathan the most trouble in his readjustment start coming to terrible ends. At the beginning of the movie, his young daughter finds the severed tail of a lizard still twitching in the grass. This analogy is important if you’re going to buy the films wacky premise later. Could the severed “hand” really be responsible for all the killing? Sure seems that way!
Surprising is the style that Stone shows as a director this early in his career. Often when we’re experiencing “the hand’s” presence, the film becomes black and white. (The black and white point of view of the hand?!) There are a few kills in the movie, but it’s not necessarily a gory “horror” movie. The red does come a flowin’ occasionally though, and in spurts during the opening scene when Caine loses the hand. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the few hints dropped in the third act will cause you to take pause and wonder if you’d actually just watched a brilliantly crafted psychological thriller as opposed to a “horror” film. While I’m sure that’s what Stone intended, look… the movie’s called the freakin’ HAND. And we see a hand killing people. I’m sticking to my guns and calling it a cheesy horror flick.
This is a bit slower paced then the average movie nowadays, but I was fine with it and followed along intently. Maybe it’s just because I love Michael Caine as an actor. This came out in what… 1981? Back in the mid to late 80’s, I only remembered Caine from GET CARTER, JAWS: THE REVENGE and BLAME IT ON RIO and in all 3 flicks (despite their varying quality… ok GET CARTER’s a great movie) I just always found something so likable about Michael Caine. Hell, his wife may be cheating in this flick, but don’t worry. He gets to bang one of his students repeatedly when he relocates to teach in California. And by the end of the movie, Michael Caine is so bat-shit crazy, I started wondering which stills I could pull to make T-Shirts out of.
In other words, I liked THE HAND. And I think weather you like it or not will all rest on what you think of the ending. (Oh, and the 80 minutes leading up to that ending, of course!)
Special Features: This is the first time this movie’s been available on DVD, it’s in widescreen and it’s got a commentary track with Oliver Stone himself. (Along with the theatrical trailer, which is wonderful.) I’m definitely going to give the commentary a listen soon enough. I gotta know what Stone thinks of this movie! –Robg.
Buy it on Amazon.com!