review for The Hand on AllMovie

The Hand (1981)
by Donald Guarisco review

Despite a lot of talent behind and in front of the camera, this psychological horror film falls short in several ways. The first problem with The Hand is that it's rather ponderous: Oliver Stone's pacing is slack throughout and the script is more interested in the bitter, dreary melodrama between Michael Caine and Andrea Marcovicci than it is in building tension. The film does get a bit more interested in horrific moments during its second half (the last fifteen minutes are pretty effective) but, despite some atmospheric photography by King Baggot, the shock scenes are often ludicrous and awkward in their staging. Simply put, an actor miming a struggle with a severed hand is more silly than scary. The acting is better than the film deserves but no one can overcome the ham-handed nature of the script: Marcovicci does solid work but is undone by the oft-unsympathetic nature of her characterization and Caine delivers a fully committed performance but the thin nature of the material leaves him looking hammy instead of intense. Simply put, The Hand is an overwrought misfire that is best left to horror film completists.