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The Hand (film)

The Hand (film)

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The Hand is a 1981
1981 in film
-Events:*January 19 - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquires beleaguered concurrent United Artists. UA was humiliated by the astronomical losses on the $40,000,000 movie Heaven's Gate, a major factor in the decision of owner Transamerica to sell it....

Psychological horror
Psychological horror is a subgenre of horror fiction that relies on character fears, guilt, beliefs, eerie sound effects, relevant music and emotional instability to build tension and further the plot...

 horror film
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

 written and directed by Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

, based on the novel The Lizard's Tail by Marc Brandell and a remake
A remake is a piece of media based primarily on an earlier work of the same medium.-Film:The term "remake" is generally used in reference to a movie which uses an earlier movie as the main source material, rather than in reference to a second, later movie based on the same source...

 of the 1946 film
1946 in film
The year 1946 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*November 21 - William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives premieres in New York featuring an ensemble cast including Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, and Harold Russell.*December 20 - Frank Capra's It's a...

 The Beast with Five Fingers
The Beast with Five Fingers
The Beast with Five Fingers is a horror film directed by Robert Florey and with a screenplay by Curt Siodmak, based on a short story by W. F. Harvey first published in the New Decameron. The original music score was composed by Max Steiner...

. The film stars Michael Caine
Michael Caine
Sir Michael Caine, CBE is an English actor. He won Academy Awards for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules ....

 and Andrea Marcovicci
Andrea Marcovicci
Andrea Louisa Marcovicci is an American actress and singer.- Biography :Marcovicci was born in Manhattan, New York City, the daughter of Helen , a singer, and Eugen Marcovicci, a physician and internist of Romanian descent. In her teens, she decided that she wanted to be a singer, but instead...

. Caine plays Jon Lansdale, a comic book artist who loses his hand, which in turn takes on a murderous life of its own. The original film score is by James Horner
James Horner
James Roy Horner is an American composer, orchestrator and conductor of orchestral and film music. He is noted for the integration of choral and electronic elements in many of his film scores, and for frequent use of Celtic musical elements...

, in one of his earliest projects. Warner Bros. released the movie on DVD on September 25, 2007.


The Hand begins with comic strip artist Jon Lansdale as he's finishing up a famous work of his called "Mandro", a Prince Valiant
Prince Valiant
Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur, or simply Prince Valiant, is a long-run comic strip created by Hal Foster in 1937. It is an epic adventure that has told a continuous story during its entire history, and the full stretch of that story now totals more than 3700 Sunday strips...

/Conan The Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian is a fictional sword and sorcery hero that originated in pulp fiction magazines and has since been adapted to books, comics, several films , television programs, video games, roleplaying games and other media...

 type of character. (In the film the actual "Mandro" artwork was drawn by real life Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

 Conan artist Barry Windsor-Smith
Barry Windsor-Smith
Barry Windsor-Smith, born Barry Smith is a British comic book illustrator and painter whose best known work has been produced in the United States....

.) Lansdale is married to a beautiful woman named Anne (Andrea Marcovicci
Andrea Marcovicci
Andrea Louisa Marcovicci is an American actress and singer.- Biography :Marcovicci was born in Manhattan, New York City, the daughter of Helen , a singer, and Eugen Marcovicci, a physician and internist of Romanian descent. In her teens, she decided that she wanted to be a singer, but instead...

) and they have a child named Lizzie (played by Mara Hobel
Mara Hobel
Mara Hobel is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her portrayal of young Christina Crawford in the film Mommie Dearest...


Anne apparently is bored with their life in Vermont and insists that she and Lizzie move to New York City so that she and Lansdale can "spend time alone." It appears their marriage is on shaky ground. This is brought up during a car ride in which Lansdale is infuriated by her suggestions and they argue. While they are driving, Anne and Lansdale end up behind a slow-moving truck and an impatient driver behind them. In the heat of argument, Anne, who is driving, gets distracted and pulls out from behind the truck. Another truck comes up in the other lane. Anne attempts to get back behind the other truck but the impatient driver has pulled up too far. Lansdale waves his hand to the impatient driver to move back, and when she does not and Anne has to slam on the brakes, his hand is caught behind the truck, which also stops. The hand is severed completely in a bloody, violent scene. Anne attempts to find the severed hand but it is too late.

Lansdale then starts a painful adjustment to not having his right hand, which so happened to be his drawing hand. Anne also adjusts to her guilt of being responsible for the accident and tries to get closer with Lansdale. In a separate instance, he attempts to find the hand himself but does find his signet ring that Anne gave him. They move to New York and Lansdale is approached by his friend and agent Karen Wagner (Rosemary Murphy
Rosemary Murphy
Rosemary Murphy is an American actress of stage, film, and television.Murphy was born in Munich, Germany, the daughter of American parents Mildred and Robert D. Murphy, a diplomat...

) to co-produce his comic strip with another cartoonist. But when the test boards are discovered marked up, the deal is off and Karen fires Lansdale. Lansdale, however, is certain HE did not mark them up and questions his daughter about the incident. He also loses the signet ring once again. During his recovery, Lansdale discovers that Anne has started moving away from him like before the accident. He becomes jealous of Anne's yoga instructor and also seems to begin a slow descent into darkness when an encounter with a homeless man (played by writer/director Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

) leaves the man dead at the "hand" of his former appendage. It's not entirely clear whether or not this was a real event or something in his mind. Lansdale also starts having hallucinations about different objects coming to life as a hand, like a shower faucet.

After his final meeting with Wagner, Lansdale comes forth with his intention to take an offer to teach at a small community college in California. He proceeds to go forward with his plans and meets Brian Ferguson (Bruce McGill
Bruce McGill
Bruce Travis McGill is an American actor who has an extensive list of credits in film and television. He is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Dalton on the television series MacGyver and as Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day in National Lampoon's Animal House.-Early life:McGill was born in San...

), a rough and rowdy country-and-western psychology instructor, who helps indoctrinate him with the college and the small town locale. He discovers soon that perhaps this was a disastrous move on his part after his first couple of weeks teaching. Another thorn in his side is Anne's decision not to move Lizzie and herself out with him.

Although unintentional, Lansdale begins a strange affair with one of his students, Stella Roche (Annie McEnroe), when she decides to show up at his house and strip for him. He starts showing his dark descent with an unshaven face and wild, uncombed hair, akin to Jack Torrance
Jack Torrance
Jack Torrance is a fictional character, the antagonist in the 1977 novel The Shining by Stephen King. He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 movie adaptation of the novel, and by Steven Weber in the 1997 miniseries. The American Film Institute rated the character the 25th greatest film...

 in The Shining
The Shining (film)
The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. A writer, Jack Torrance, takes a job as an...

. Lansdale becomes obsessed with Stella, buying her lacy lingerie for Christmas and insisting on knowing her whereabouts at all times. Stella, feeling smothered and unknown to Lansdale, makes plans to go away for two weeks with Brian. Brian, who knows nothing of the affair between Stella and Lansdale, drunkenly blurts their plans to Lansdale in the local bar. Soon, the image of Stella being strangled under the Christmas tree by the severed hand, pops into Lansdale's head. The hand apparently cleans up the mess by the time Lansdale, along with Anne and Lizzie, who have arrived to celebrate Christmas, show up at the house. Not long after, Lansdale once again ends up at the bar with Brian. Confused that Brian should be off on his two week vacation with Stella, Lansdale discovers that Brian has not seen Stella since the night she came to Lansdale's house. Brian, even in his drunken state, uncovers the affair between Stella and Lansdale. He is killed by the hand in his car after threatening to call the police on Lansdale about Stella's disappearance. It is now that Lansdale believes he controls the hand and it responds to his impulses and desires. He attempts to murder Anne so that he can have Lizzie to himself. While he makes a strong effort by having the hand kill her while she is driving to the grocery store in a rainstorm, she remains unharmed and returns safely. Later that evening, Lansdale argues with Anne and he leaves her room. Soon, screams are coming from Anne. Lansdale enters her room and discovers the hand strangling her and it attempts to escape by going out the window. Lizzie discovers her father over her mother and assumes he is hurting her. He convinces her otherwise and tells her to call the police. He, then, goes after the hand with a butcher's knife. After a lengthy struggle, he stabs the hand, but the hand gets away and after attempting something with the car, the hand starts to strangle him until he passes out.

Lansdale awakens with his own hand (the one attached) around his throat while the police are skulking around. The sheriff, with Lizzie in tow, and his deputies attempt to ask Lansdale what happened. While he attempts to explain and he discovers that Anne is not dead, the officers notice a pungent smell permeating the area in the carport around the car, specifically from the trunk. Lansdale tries to prove that nothing is wrong by opening the trunk, only to find Stella and Brian's dead bodies inside. Lansdale looks and screams in horror.

The scene fades out and then into a green-painted room of a mental hospital with tons of electronic scanning and testing equipment around. Lansdale is strapped down in a chair with electrodes coming out of his head. An elderly woman (Viveca Lindfors
Viveca Lindfors
Elsa Viveca Torstensdotter Lindfors , better known under her professional name of Viveca Lindfors, was a Swedish stage and film actress.-Life and career:...

 in a Saturn Award
Saturn Award
The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed in 1972, who felt that films within...

-nominated cameo), apparently a doctor or scientist, with a white labcoat on, is circling Lansdale, attempting to make sense of his rage and why he did what he did. She tries to make an effort with him by loosening the restraint on his mechanical hand and shakes it. She continually questions him about what he's feeling. He attempts to tell her that he sees the hand, which she insists is not real and that he did all the killing himself, coming closer to her neck. She laughs it off until the hand actually grabs her and strangles her, smashing her head against the concrete floor. Lansdale, completely taken over by the essence of the hand, looks at her and starts to laugh, loosens the restraint on the other hand and gets up.


Oliver Stone's first choice for the lead was Academy Award-winner Jon Voight
Jon Voight
Jonathan Vincent "Jon" Voight is an American actor. He has received an Academy Award, out of four nominations, and three Golden Globe Awards, out of nine nominations. Voight is the father of actress Angelina Jolie....

, who declined the role. Stone also approached other Oscar-winners Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Lee Hoffman is an American actor with a career in film, television, and theatre since 1960. He has been known for his versatile portrayals of antiheroes and vulnerable characters....

 and Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken is an American stage and screen actor. He has appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows, including Joe Dirt, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, The Prophecy trilogy, The Dogs of War, Sleepy Hollow, Brainstorm, The Dead Zone, A View to a Kill, At Close Range, King of New...

. Michael Caine, however, after the success of his previous film Dressed to Kill, was interested in making another horror film to earn enough to put a down payment on a new garage he was having built, and he agreed to take the part after talks with the director. Caine's experience with Stone caused him to be friends with him later on during his life, although Stone never again cast Caine in future films.