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Film / The Hand

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The Hand is a 1981 American psychological horror film written and directed by Oliver Stone, based on the novel The Lizard's Tail by Marc Brandell. The film stars Michael Caine and Andrea Marcovicci.

Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.


Tropes used in The Hand include:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: At the end of the film, the hand reappears emerging from an air vent in the mental hospital. Justified, as it is a self-mobile severed hand and has no trouble fitting through a vent.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Jon loses his hand in a freak accident when it caught between his car and a truck.
  • Artificial Limbs: After losing his right hand in a freak accident, Jon is given a prosthetic hand that works fine for most purposes, but lacks the fine control he needs to be able to draw properly.
  • Artificial Limbs Are Stronger: Jon's prosthetic hand is capable of a much stronger grip than his real hand, and he often causes people pain when he grabs them in a fit of anger.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Cartoonist Jon Lansdale loses his right hand in a freak car accident. Although all he wants to do is draw, his doctor tells him the prosthetic will never have the fine control to allow him to do that.
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  • Catapult Nightmare: Jon sits bolt upright in bed following a dream where he sees his hand scurrying around the woodpile in the cabin.
  • Creator Cameo: Writer and director Oliver Stone appears as the bum who is the first victim of the hand.
  • Dead Man Honking: Brian slams his hand down on the car horn repeatedly as he is being strangled by the hand.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The first person murdered by the hand is a one armed wino who bumps into Jon in alley and harasses him.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: After losing his hand, and being dropped by his agent, Jon takes a job teaching cartooning at remote community college, to a class of students who seem largely uninterested in the subject.
  • Helping Hands: Jon's severed hand acquires a life of its own and starts murdering those who anger him.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The climax of the film (and most the violence) occurs around Christmas.
  • Punk in the Trunk: The police find the bodies of Brian and Stella stuffed into the trunk of Jon's car.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Jon has an affair with his student Stella while teaching at community college.
  • The "The" Title
  • There Are No Therapists: Jon refuses to see a therapist because they cost too much. If he had addressed his anger issues, much bloodshed might have avoided.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Jon's severed hand goes around murdering people who have angered him. At the end of the film, it seems that he has been committing the murders himself during disassociative blackouts, and created the murderous hand as an explanation for his acts. But, at the very end, the hand shows up to recuse him from the asylum.


Example of: