Wednesday, 20 December 2017

No. 132 : The Hand





The Hand @ the IMDb

 “What a pile of shit” Michael Caine declares midway through this schlock horror nightmare - whether he was talking about the production is unclear but such words would be a bit harsh. Just a bit though.

Caine plays Jon Lansdale a successful newspaper comic strip artist whose creation ‘Mandro’ pays for a nice life with an unfeasibly young, and new age wife. Lansdale is a bit of a dick from the off and enjoys yelling at his wife whilst she is driving him to the shops. This ends badly for him however as his drawing hand is lopped off by a passing truck as he tries to wave a car back. This scene was fantastically realised as the hand goes flying and Caine, covered in blood, starts screaming - possibly at his agent.

Time passes and soon the stumpefied Caine is getting fitted for a prosthetic that looks like it has been salvaged from a terminator. He suspects his wife is getting a bit too close to her yoga instructor and his agent is keen to let a young artist take over his strip. Caine meanwhile is having trouble adapting to his new single hand life and has flashbacks about the incident whilst pondering about the fate of his hand, that was never found.

With wife trouble escalating Caine heads off for a teaching job in California where he can talk to bored students and brood in his lonely log cabin. Things look up however when a young student shows up at his home and takes her clothes off - clearly a wavy hair / stump fetishist.

Despite trading the wife in for a younger and less annoying model Caine keeps spiraling further into madness and we wonder if the black and white flashbacks of the disembodied hand killing a tramp are for real or just his frenzied imagination at work.

With the wife ready to take their daughter away and his bit on the side having gone missing we have to guess if Caine is doing all the murders or is the disembodied hand really the culprit?

Despite my better judgement I enjoyed ‘The Hand’. It’s rubbish but it knows it’s rubbish and doesn’t pretend otherwise. Caine is manic throughout with his hairstyle getting ever madder as an insight to his mental state. The hand is well done and despite people clearly holding it on whilst it strangles them it’s a good laugh to see it scuttling about the place.

The film does stretch itself somewhat with a final wrong foot but as a study of madness and loss it is well done and it has a few unintended laughs peppered throughout, which adds to its appeal.

This was an early directorial outing for Oliver Stone before he got all political and for pure enjoyment purposes I’d put it up there with his best. Caine is of course working for the pay cheque but he gives it his all and is happy to go deep with the murder and sex scenes, despite the ridiculousness of each.

THE Tag Line : Give it a big hand! 68%

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