I have seen it written that The Hand was one of Oliver Stone’s best pieces of work. If only he’d stuck with the brilliant storytelling he told in The Hand, he might actually be a good director. Somehow, I have to disagree with that assessment. The Hand was the best movie in the Twisted Terror Collection, no doubt, but how can anyone even compare it to Platoon, Wall Street, Alexander (which I liked), JFK, Born On the Fourth of July, and my favorite Stone film, Natural Born Killers? Though some may not like Stone’s style, it is hard to deny he has a gift. Luckily, that budding gift is apparent in one of his earliest films, The Hand.
The Hand is one of six movies included in the Twisted Terror Collection. The original release of The Hand was in 1981, and was the second semi-major release by Oliver Stone. The other movies in the Twisted Terror Collection are From Beyond the Grave, Someone’s Watching Me, Deadly Friend, Dr. Giggles and Eyes of a Stranger.
Jonathan Lansdale (Michael Caine) is a semi-famous, skilled artist. He even has his own comic strip, which is a fantasy-based comic that has enjoyed a bit of success. Jonathan’s wife, Anne (Andrea Marcovicci), believes the two of them need some time apart, so she proposes they move into New York City. While Jonathan doesn’t want to move, she doesn’t really want him to go with her, so she is going to get a one bedroom apartment for her and their daughter, Lizzie (Mara Hobel).
While the two are fighting about Anne moving with Lizzie, Anne drives recklessly, causing a horrible accident to occur where Jonathan loses his hand. This is his drawing hand, and Jonathan sees his life falling apart at the seams. To make matters worse, the company that releases his comic strip has brought in a new writer, who changes Jonathan’s ideas for the strip. After Jonathan refuses to give up the comic strip, he decides to take a job in California teaching an art class at a small University.
Jonathan heads out to California without his wife and daughter, assuming they will be joining him in the near future. However, Anne is having an affair with her yoga instructor, Bill (Nicholas Hormann), and decides to stay in New York until Christmas. To get out his frustration, Jonathan ends up having an affair of his own with one of his students, Stella (Annie McEnroe). In the meantime, the stump of hand that no one found after Jonathan’s accident seems to have a life of its own and it wants revenge for all the bad things that are happening in Jonathan’s life.
Audio & Visual Quality:
The anamorphic widescreen format is nice for the quality of The Hand. It is easy to watch and while it retains that retro feel films from the 80s possess, it still comes in clear visually. The sound quality of The Hand, which is English and Spanish Dolby Digital Surround Sound, is excellent for the time in which this film was released. Unlike other films in the Twisted Terror Collection, The Hand doesn’t have any sound issues at all. For the hearing impaired, The Hand also includes subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
The Hand has more bonus features than any of the discs in the Twisted Terror Collection. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have very many at that. The first extra is the original theatrical trailer for The Hand. This film also includes audio commentary from Oliver Stone to accompany the film. It isn’t a lot to look forward to, but the movie makes up for the lack of extras.
The Hand is a really smart film. If you are looking to scream, you won’t find that kind of horror here. This film delves more into the psychological world of horror and Stone does so masterfully. It helps that he has such an amazing cast because I could see the idea behind the film getting ruined by poor acting. Luckily the acting is on par with most of the other films Michael Caine has been in and if that won’t entertain you, the inventive storyline certainly will.