The Hand – USA, 1981

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The Hand is a 1981 psychological horror film written and directed by Oliver Stone (Seizure), based on the novel The Lizard’s Tail by Marc Brandell. The movie stars Michael Caine, Andrea Marcovicci and Annie McEnroe.

The original film score is by James Horner, in one of his earliest projects.

Review:

Following in the tradition of Demonoid, Beast with Five Fingers and The Hands of Orlac, the severed hand on the loose flick was valid currency still in the 80’s. For completists, here’s one of Oliver Stone’s earliest efforts.

Michael Caine plays an overbearing comic book artist and sports the most alarming haircut of his career, a disgraceful Thomas Cromwell/Marty Feldman hybrid. Clearly one of Caine’s ‘need to pay the gas bill’ efforts, he’s a terrible parody of himself, struggling, quite understandably, with Stone’s awful script. The relationship with his needy wife is at breaking point and during an argument in the car (‘get back y’silly cow’ he yells at a nearby motorist, quite clearly not what Stone had written) his hand becomes severed in the most ludicrous car accident in movie history.

Caine’s character struggles to come to terms with his shattered life – ‘It’s so ugly’ he moans to his wife in bed. Caine also has a hideous child, her haircut even more alarming but overall coming over rather Eric Stoltz in Mask. ‘My hand ran away’ he tries to explain to her..

As well, it might, although the Stan Winston effects for the hand are more than passable on the whole. Up close, a genuine stump hogs the screen at crazy angles to Caine and in long shots his arm is about six feet long to compensate for the effect, giving the impression that Caine is smuggling a hairy anaemic baguette up his sleeve. The shrink ‘will tell me I’ve got a penis complex because I’ve lost my hand’ he says wafting his crusty baton around. Awful.

As time passes, the hand makes it’s appearance, first offing a tramp (Oliver Stone in officially the worst cameo by a director, ever) and then those nearest and dearest to Caine.

By the time he’s fitted with a prosthetic hand, Caine’s arm is long enough to tempt Evel Knievel into jumping it, how Stone was allowed to carry on making films after this will forever be a mystery.

When Caine pumps up the volume as a Blondie track comes on the radio, it’s evident that his fragile mental state might be more of a concern than the hand. Somehow not career shattering for all involved, it offers moderate entertainment but for all the wrong reasons.

Daz Lawrence, HORRORPEDIA

the hand michael caine warner home video UK VHS sleeve

Other reviews:

“If there’s any drawbacks or flaws with The Hand, it’s that the film is fairly predictable. It follows a lot of clichés and you can pretty much guess what’s going to unfold next. That being said though, this film is shockingly well made. Say whatever you want about Oliver Stone’s filmography, but from a technical standpoint, his work is usually pretty damn top notch.” Nick Durham, House of Tortured Souls

 

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