Michael Caine The Hand

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hand (1981)

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By Nick Durham

Did you know that Oliver Stone has a background in horror films? That's right, the same guy behind critical darlings like Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Natural Born Killers, and W once wrote and directed a horror film starring Michael Caine about a murderous severed hand. While that brief description that I've just given about The Hand sounds quite visceral, the film is actually much more of a psychological thriller than a typical slasher flick. Not to mention the fact that it is very well made, well acted, and generally not bad one bit either.

Caine plays a comic book artist named Jon (whose work is actually drawn by legendary Marvel and Conan penciler Barry Windsor-Smith) with a wife and child, who ends up losing his drawing hand in a freakish car accident. Eventually things go from bad to worse as Jon begins a descent into darkness as strange things start happening, and even some bodies start to pile up. Is Jon crazy? Or is his severed hand wrecking havoc on all those that come upon it? While I'm sure you can figure that out on your own, the film actually does a decent job asking the viewer if Jon's become a crazed killer, or if his severed appendage has taken on a murderous life of its own.

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. The Hand is no different. It is well-filmed, well-shot, and very well-acted. Michael Caine is damn good...probably because he's Michael fucking Caine. There's solid performances all around (well, mostly that is), and when the film has its graphic moments, they are surprisingly nasty.

So yeah, Oliver Stone wrote and directed a horror movie once upon a time. If you've never seen, let alone heard of, The Hand before, I suggest tracking it down and checking it out. It's a shame that Stone didn't do more in the horror realm; I for one would have really liked to see what else he could do in the genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee

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