"Blackouts are nothing to fool with.”
Oliver Stone had already made an indie feature film in 1973 and had written the adapted screenplay for Midnight Express which garnered him an Oscar. These elements put him in the position to write and direct his first feature film, albeit one still relatively under studio control. He found the book “The Lizard’s Tail” by Marc Brandell and really enjoyed the psychological angle of the story. He decided to adapt it as The Hand and he set to work. But for Stone’s debut directing a studio feature, does the movie work? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off our Oliver Stone in the 80s series with his 1981 film The Hand.
We talk about the nature of killer hand movies and why they’re largely so hard to buy into, but how the psychological angle of this one almost gets past that. We look at Stone and what signs of his works to come we can already see in this film. We chat about Michael Caine and his turn as an overbearing man slowly going insane and how it almost feels like a villain’s origin story. We discuss the elements of the story – divorce, emasculation as represented by the protagonist’s drawing hand getting amputated in a accident, the psychological collapse of a man unable to control his world – and look at how they work in horror films… as well as in this film. We look at the effects – from the severing of the hand to the various tricks to film a hand attacking and debate how well it works. And we look at tropes in the film and 80s attitudes toward yoga and psychologists.
It’s an entertaining film that doesn’t work completely but still is fun enough to watch. We have a great time talking about it so check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!
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