THE HAND (1981) Reviews and overview

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The Hand (1981) will be released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on May 25, 2021, via a new 2K scan of the interpositive. Special features:

Audio commentary by director Oliver Stone
Interview with director Oliver Stone (new)
Interview with actor Bruce McGill (new)
Interview with actress Andrea Marcovicci (new)
Interview with producer Edward R. Pressman and actress Annie McEnroe Pressman (new)
Theatrical trailer

Here is our previous coverage of the movie:


‘Nothing will prepare you for’

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.


Following in the tradition of Beast with Five Fingers, The Hands of Orlac and Demonoid, the severed hand on the loose flick was seemingly still valid currency in the ’80s. 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 its 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. 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, MOVIES and MANIA

the hand michael caine warner home video UK VHS sleeve

Other reviews:

” …once you’ve sussed out the game the movie’s playing and the way it dovetails with the main character’s marital problems, there’s really not much in the way of surprises, either as a drama or a horror movie. I can’t help but notice that Stone wasn’t above resorting to horror cliches (such as cars not being able to start) when it serves his purpose.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

The Hand is really something of an oddity. It’s a bit muddled, and I don’t think that Stone was particularly interested in the horror genre despite the brutal violence he went on to often depict; he admits in his typically honest commentary that he doesn’t think he’s very good at it. Some or perhaps even all of the hand stuff doesn’t seem necessary seeing as he was focusing more on horror of the interior kind…” Horror Cult Films

“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.” House of Tortured Souls

“This odd horror feature from director Stone never picks up steams…unlike the mobile hand, it simply lies there. One or two decent sequences – and the acceptable production standards – can’t seem to lift this above sleepy mediocrity.” The Terror Trap



Cast and characters:

Michael Caine … Jonathan Lansdale
Andrea Marcovicci … Anne Lansdale
Annie McEnroe … Stella Roche
Bruce McGill … Brian Ferguson
Viveca Lindfors … Doctress
Rosemary Murphy … Karen Wagner
Mara Hobel … Lizzie Lansdale
Pat Corley … Sheriff
Nicholas Hormann … Bill Richman
Edward Marshall … Doctor (as Ed Marshall)
Charles Fleischer … David Maddow
John Stinson … Therapist
Richard Altman … Hammond
Sparky Watt … Sergeant
Tracey Walter … Cop

Filming locations:

Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California,
Crestline, California
Culver City, California
Hidden Valley, Thousand Oaks, California
Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino National Forest, California
New York City, New York

Technical details:

104 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Dolby Stereo

Fun facts:

Carlo Rambaldi (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and Stan Winston (Jurassic Park) created the special effects.


MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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