FILMS… The Hand (1981)



Caine has a hand in a murderous 80s horror…


Michael Caine plays a comic book illustrator who after his hand is severed off in a car accident, finds out this hand is taking on a more violent side than before.


The Hand (1981) Official Trailer – Michael Caine, Andrea Marcovicci Movie HD, 


Earlier this week we lucky ladies at 2 Reel Quirky Cats had the lovely guest, Barry telling us more about the Suspiria (1977) film trailer. Now it’s time for my choice and it’s a guilty pleasure of a horror film too. This film which I found out only recently was directed by Oliver Stone with a James Horner soundtrack. For those film buffs who haven’t guessed yet, this post’s film preview is The Hand (1981). So what’s it all about Alfie?


About the plot…

Jon Lansdale (Michael Caine) is a comic book artist who is having problems at home with his wife, Anne (Andrea Marcovicci) and his small daughter, Lizzie. One day whilst out driving with his wife, the couple argues and is involved in a car accident. This accident resulted in Jon’s working hand being severed from his body.

After the accident, the hand is not found, but his signet ring is recovered.  The accident leads to Anne feeling guilty about Jon’s condition. And Jon coming to grips with him losing his working hand and using its robotic replacement. The family then moved to New York with Jon getting more work, but his mental health is deteriorating…


About the trailer…

The first thing that struck me during this film preview was its dramatic and spine-tingling score from Horner. The opening scene is split into three parts, intercut with eerie snippets from the film. This keeps you on the edge of your seat.. as the pieces add up to a chilling conclusion… like a scary jigsaw.

The scene begins showing Jon Lansdale (Caine, with the craziest mop of hair)  questioned by the police in the dead of night. He asks the sheriff – as you do – if he thinks he’s done something wrong.  With the sheriff’s grim nod, you feel concerned. Yet the scary music increases our sense of foreboding. Could it be he has no insight into something more terrifying? The masterful trailer voice tells this man has undergone something horrific. Immediately I felt sympathy for this man.

The horror then accelerates with a curtain pushed back and a stormy night with a window blowing open, and that trailer man’s voice telling of  “a horror he could not forget”. All increasing our fear of Lansdale. Then back to policemen and Lansdale, his cheek is now bloodied. Lansdale asks the police “you think I’ve got something in there, don’t you?” As the suspense increases full fold, less than 15 seconds into the trailer…

Then more creepy short snippets with cats yowling then glass breaking as the cat falls out the window and a small girl with a haunting face. As the masterful trailer voice tells of the “truth he would not face” as the man catches a couple in an embrace. 

We go back to the scene as the police lights light Lansdale’s face up in the dark, where he loses his temper – and shows a terrifying change of personality in an instant – as he opens the boot of his car. Then, as he says  “Take a look!” we get ready for the big sting. The climax. With the horror on his and the young girl’s face, you can’t look away, and then nothing is told. Yet, you know it’s something they both just didn’t expect. But what?

Your pulse returns to normal, almost like an interlude – but in blood-red writing, the movie’s title and the star are revealed as Michael Caine in The Hand... with the music becoming less frightening. You think this is the end of the trailer, and it could be. But then, the trailer continues…

The atmosphere and film music is less creepy, a man’s signet ring is seen with the initials J and L. And it’s daylight. Lansdale with his wife Anne are out driving, he asks an innocent question, she’s increasingly agitated and defensive. This conversation leads to a fight about their future. Then they are involved in a horrific accident, and scenes then cut to the hospital. Lansdale has a robotic hand while Anne looks on troubled and concerned.  The doctor tells him about phantom pain and its psychological effects. As we cut to the final act of the trailer in black and white with a blue filter…

The colour of this part of the trailer immediately increases our attention as a teacher would by changing the chalk colour.  With the score, now returning to a full tilt eerie mood we hear he forgets things, has blackouts, and then a man in a bar tells him he’d be scared in that situation. He goes on to tell Lansdale that his unconscious is “capable of anything” and might make him kill or do things he’s always dreamt of.  And that With scenes suggesting something has happened to change this man’s personality, yet he feels “alright”. As others become more concerned… as are we hearing the way he says this.

Lansdale laughs manically. As this man in the bar warns him he’ll never know who he is… a line is both creepy and sinister. Then Lansdale talks to a health worker, electrodes attached to his head. He’s encouraged to talk of his pain, with scenes showing his fears of his wife trying to kill him and destroy him. He reacts violently to these fears, with a hand seen around her throat.  Then after some frightening shots of a hand materialising as the shower control dial, And this hand attacking everyone. Then with Lansdale’s bloodcurdling screams, we’re back in full colour.  And the trailer ends…

With this rollercoaster ride from the start and your pulse increasing and decreasing with the scenes this trailer tells you much of the movie’s plot. It almost feels like three acts of a play and an unsettling one at that. Each set of scenes is set at different times and situations, as indicated by scenes at night, in daylight and those sinister blue filtered scenes.

Each is almost a mini trailer in itself. But yet it leaves you with haunting scenes recurring in your mind, just what is in the boot of the car? Is Lansdale becoming unwell or is he an angry man?  What are his and the other’s realities of him?  And Caine’s final piercing screams will ring in your ears afterwards for what seems like a very long time…

But on a lighter note,  after seeing this, doesn’t it make you fear for the worse after seeing Luke Skywalker losing his hand in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). This film was released just a year before this one. And Luke’s right hand was replaced with a similar robotic hand to Lansdale. So maybe a possible horror follow-up to this Star Wars film may have been in a writer’s head far, far away. With this film title of The Return of the Hand… so I’m glad this idea just wasn’t put in the hands of George Lucas.


Screenshot at 2017-05-18 21:39:06  

CLICK HERE to read what the other Quirky Cat thought at Thoughts All Sorts.


The blogathonThird Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon 2018, No 30

This trailer review was added to In Film Music Central‘s 3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon. Andrea Marcovicci stars in Thriller and Airport 79.  James Horner composed the music for Willow. Other reviews with this cast include Michael Caine in The Swarm, Bullseye, The Prestige and many, many more. Caine also features in my post on 5 of his 70s and 80 Retro Reviews.



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