Hand, The (1981)

Hand, The (1981)

“Mandro doesn’t think.”

While arguing with his wife (Andrea Marcovicci), a comic strip artist (Michael Caine) loses his right hand in a car accident, and soon comes to believe that the severed hand has taken on a life of its own.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Artists
  • Disembodied Parts
  • Horror
  • Michael Caine Films
  • Oliver Stone Films

Written and directed by Oliver Stone, this hokey psychological horror film about a necrotic, dismembered hand taking on a life of its own — guided by, or guiding, the will of its original owner — was apparently viewed as simply a paycheck-opportunity by Michael Caine, who nonetheless turns in a surprisingly invested (if occasionally overblown) performance. With just a couple of exceptions (i.e., Caine’s shower knob morphing into a metal hand), the special effects are laughably shoddy — which, interestingly enough, Stone himself acknowledges in the refreshingly candid, detail-filled commentary provided on the DVD release. Indeed, one’s opinion of the movie may alter somewhat after listening to Stone’s humble reflections; knowing some of the issues he faced (including lack of full creative control) gives one a bit more compassion for the end result. Regardless, this one is really only recommended for diehard horror fans, Caine completists, and/or those curious to see Stone’s early work.

Note: This is often cited as a remake of Robert Florey’s horror classic The Beast With Five Fingers (1945) — but all the two films have in common is a disembodied hand wreaking havoc, and a man going slowly insane because of it; the storylines are otherwise completely different.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A committed performance by Caine
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No; you can definitely feel free to skip this one.


One thought on “Hand, The (1981)

  1. First viewing. Skip it, it’s junk.

    It seems, from the time Oliver Stone first went behind the camera, he wrestled with his cinematic intent – a lot… until he finally happened upon his real vision as a filmmaker. The first full realization of his passion (in the form of ‘Salvador’) would come 5 years after ‘The Hand’.

    (Peary also includes Stone’s 1974 film ‘Seizure’ in his back titles – so apparently I have that ‘joy’ to look forward to.)

    ‘The Hand’ is just plain crap that fails on every level. It aims more for psychological horror – and, gradually, there’s a sense that the director begins to systematically play with the audience’s collective head (which is all that could probably have been done with a script this awful – but that’s not satisfying either).

    The first full hour – sadly – is almost achingly dull for something in the horror vein.

    Caine’s character is more or less a one-note jerk – and I didn’t notice him bringing much of anything to the table here. ~although I will say I found it somewhat amusing when he’s ultimately doing battle with his own hand (late in the film). In that single sequence, I did think, ‘Now *that’s* acting!’ 😉

    In short: a bunch of people got together and thought this project was a good idea. They thought wrong.

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