The Hand (Oliver Stone / U.S., 1981):

"Je n'aurai jamais ma main." (Rimbaud) The man drawing in the glass house might be Lang's malefic novelist in his gazebo (House by the River), here the cartoonist (Michael Caine) with inky digits signs a panel of medieval warriors. Male mania, id beasts: An accident during a squabble with the straying New Age wife (Andrea Marcovicci) sends his hand flying in a geyser of blood, it gathers moss and bugs in the field until the owner's bad vibes have it crawling and clutching. Caine's stump is augmented by a metallic appendage, he adds a black glove and clenches with a leathery crunch—it is licked mid-romp by the lissome coed (Annie McEnroe), the bright spot in a classroom of flannel-decked dullards. The Hands of Orlac is just the fit for Oliver Stone's approach to cinema as a body barely able to house its terrors, the protagonist's recommendation at the lecture ("a minimum of expressive lines") is too mild for a bedeviled filmmaker. Reptilian tail in Vermont and reptilian brain in California, "just a reflex," Marnie's tree branch smashing through the window and the missing signet ring resting on the pillow. The Beast with Five Fingers, Un Tranquillo Posto di Campagna, The Brood. A pointing fist introduces a subjective camera at the Last Chance Saloon, cockeyed corpses twisted in the car trunk are perhaps a tip of the hat to Stone's days with Joel M. Reed. "It distorts things!" "Yeah, I know." The uproarious epilogue has the psychiatrist (Viveca Lindfors) on a checkerboard floor sniffing out subtextual analysis and getting wrung out for her trouble, the "ancient rage" has the last laugh. With Bruce McGill, Mara Hobel, Rosemary Murphy, and Nicholas Hormann.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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