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(1999) (Devon Sawa, Seth Green) (R)

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Horror/Comedy: A teenager must contend with the fact that his hand is possessed by a homicidal spirit.
Anton (DEVON SAWA) is a lazy, teenage "stoner," who skips school so that he can sit around with his pals Mick (SETH GREEN) and Pnub (ELDEN HENSON) watching TV, getting high, and lusting after his pretty next door neighbor, Molly (JESSICA ALBA).

All of that's about to change, however, when Anton wakes up on Halloween morning to discover that his parents (FRED WILLARD and CONNIE RAY) have been murdered, possibly by a serial killer who's been on the loose. Things get even more complicated when all the evidence points to him, causing Mick and Pnub to believe he's the killer.

It turns out, though, that his hand is possessed by some evil spirit that then causes him to kill his friends. They don't stay dead for long, however, as they emerge from their freshly dug graves to hang out with their horrified friend and his homicidal hand. As they try to figure out how to solve his problem, Debi (VIVICA A. FOX), a woman well-versed in how to do just that, comes looking for Anton with the aide of Randy (JACK NOSEWORTHY), another of Anton's neighbors.

With Anton taking drastic measures to distance himself from his problem, he creates more as he discovers that his actions have endangered Molly. From that point on, he, his pals, and Debi and Randy do what they can to save the girl and stop his deadly hand.

Since the film is obviously aimed directly at teenage males, it's a good bet some of them will want to see it.
For horror violence and gore, pervasive teen drug use, language and sexuality.
  • DEVON SAWA plays a seventeen-year-old slacker who doesn't go to school, but instead sits around watching TV and getting high from smoking pot. Once his hand becomes possessed by a homicidal spirit, he also kills several people.
  • SETH GREEN and ELDEN HENSON plays his fellow "stoners" who come back from the dead (after he's killed them) to hang out with their pal.
  • JESSICA ALBA plays Anton's seductive neighbor who finds his behavior (his hand going crazy) kinky and arousing.
  • VIVICA A. FOX plays a woman determined to find the hand-loving evil spirit and kill it once and for all.


    OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
    Long ago in the days of "an eye for an eye" and "a tooth for a tooth," the penal system of the times insured that a thief's hand would be cut off not only to punish the culprit, but also to make sure that he wouldn't physically be able to commit the crime again. While such practices are still reportedly used in some countries, I've come to the realization and belief that such punishment needs to be instituted in Hollywood.

    "Idle Hands," which is easily one of the worst films of the year, is all the proof needed to show that everyone involved in its production -- from novice screenwriters Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer to the studio executive who signed on the dotted line to give it the green light -- should receive that hand treatment to prevent them from ever being allowed to produce and release such trash.

    A poorly executed and disjointed rip-off that combines elements from "Body Parts," "The Hand" and "An American Werewolf in London (the latter of which it tries to emulate in being both funny and scary), this picture surprisingly starts with an effectively spooky opening, but then quickly falls apart faster than the dead bodies that later appear.

    Granted, it's not difficult to realize that the film isn't even remotely trying to be serious and I can appreciate goofy irreverence as much as the next guy. Yet, any film, no matter how weird or outrageous its premise, must follow the rules of its own universe. As such, while we'll accept that a teen's hand gets possessed -- even if there's no explanation or reason to believe so -- and that it might scamper away after being severed from the rest of the arm, the fact that the filmmakers then have it defy basic physics becomes maddeningly insulting to the moviegoer.

    First off, a hand without any means of locomotion beyond "finger walking" shouldn't be able to fly through the air like Superman, let alone somehow manage to get a young woman on top of a car, tie her there (with the rope going around her and the car several times) and then overpower several guys trying to force a lever in the opposite direction when it's simply holding onto that lever. That doesn't even take into account scenes where that hand grabs a guy by his face and then slams it against a window or where it tears the scalp from another man's head while sitting atop it.

    Sure, that might seem like nitpicking when we accept a headless corpse carrying its own fully functional, but severed head around, etc... but such insulting and lazy writing and directing is more than a little annoying and becomes exceedingly irritating as the film unfolds.

    The same holds true for lifting scenes and related material from other films, and it's quite obvious that first-time screenwriters Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer, along with director Rodman Flender ("Leprechaun 2," various TV shows) watched and raided plenty of other films for "inspiration" while making this one.

    Beyond the basic plot that's, oh, just a tad similar to the bad hand stories of "Body Parts" and "The Hand," the film also lifts elements from "An American Werewolf in London" (the dead and decomposing but wisecracking friend), "Beetlejuice" (jokes related to bodily injury such as smoke coming out from gaping neck wounds), and "Gremlins" (where a hand gets the microwave treatment instead of a nasty Gremlin).

    Being a teenage-based film, it must, of course, end at a high school dance (like a gazillion other films have done in the past few years). Then there are the all too obvious similarities to the fabulous physical gags of Steve Martin battling his own body in "All of Me," having some students crawl through huge air ducts and then dealing with a huge and rapidly spinning ventilation fan (from many movies such as "Die Hard"), while another shot is stolen directly from "The Shining" (where a floor mounted camera looks up at a possessed character with his head against the door he wishes to open).

    With director Flender cutting his filmmaking teeth under the tutelage of low budget, "B" movie guru, Roger Corman, none of that or the fact that the rest of the movie and its plot are underdeveloped should come as much of a surprise. As such, we never know why Anton's hand gets possessed, why his friends come back from the dead while his parents don't (which might have been fun to have his dead parents hanging around and nagging him), or much of anything about the woman hunting down the hand-loving evil spirit.

    In addition, the dialogue is stupid and/or insipid -- "I'm gonna call 911. What's the number?" -- and the acting just as bad. Devon Sawa ("Wild America," "SLC Punk!") gives it his best shot with the physical comedy (reminding one of a less-inspired version of Steve Martin battling Lily Tomlin for control of his body in "All of Me"), but doesn't remotely come close to delivering as much "stoner" fun as, say, Sean Penn in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

    Seth Green ("Can't Hardly Wait") and Elden Henson ("The Mighty") can't do much with their stereotypically written and underdeveloped roles, while Jessica Alba ("Never Been Kissed") fares even worse as the sluttish next door neighbor. Vivica A. Fox ("Independence Day") is likewise completely wasted in a performance that seemingly ended more on the cutting room floor than in the final product (which is good because what's present is horribly contrived and the stuff of which easily kills acting careers).

    Although we realize that the filmmakers never intended for this to be an Oscar worthy film, as a horror/comedy hybrid, it just doesn't work. While the special effects are appropriately gory -- if a bit on the low budget-looking side considering what's now available -- the film's jokes are lame and unimaginative and the horror quickly loses its bite after a promising opening.

    With enough inane material for several bad films, a heavy pounding rock soundtrack and a pretty girl occasionally seen in skimpy clothes, the film will obviously appeal to thirteen to seventeen- year-old male teens looking for some escapist entertainment that's both fun and mindless.

    Unfortunately, the latter part of that description is all that's accurate for this film that tries to emulate the formula and success of "An American Werewolf in London," but that falls way short. We give "Idle Hands" a 1 out of 10.

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated horror comedy. Violence is extreme as several people are brutally killed, often with very bloody or gory results. As such, those with weak constitutions for seeing severed heads, hands and other related blood and gore may not like what's present. Some viewers may find some or all of the proceedings as suspenseful or scary (although most of the scenes are played more for laughs than traditional spookiness).

    Profanity is extreme with 17 "f" words and other words and colorful phrases being used throughout the film. The major characters smoke pot in various scenes (and it's credited for "saving the day" at the end), and there's one incident of violence toward animals (played for laughs).

    A brief sexual encounter is seen (a couple making out in a car where we briefly see the woman's bare breasts) as are some scantily clad young women, sexual and double entendre comments are made, and we briefly hear a man having a phone sex conversation.

    Since the film is aimed at the male teenage market, you might consider taking a closer look at the listed content should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for them or anyone else in your home.

  • After lighting some incense to cover the smell, Anton smokes some pot from a pipe he's fashioned out of -- and hidden inside -- an asthma inhaler (all after just getting up in the morning).
  • Anton calls Mick on the phone, says that he's dry and asks him to bring over a "dimer."
  • Randy drinks a beer while working in his driveway.
  • As we see Mick and Pnub with marijuana bongs or pipes in front of them, Mick tells Anton, "All you do is smoke pot and watch TV all day. Now don't get me wrong, that's what life is all about." When Anton leaves (with them telling him to smoke a mixture of nutmeg and oregano to get high -- which he later rolls into a joint and tries smoking), Pnub pulls out a bag of pot and does a bong hit.
  • Two cops who've stopped Anton ask if he ever invited them to get high while all three attended the same high school (he didn't).
  • Finding a near hysterical Anton, one of his friends asks, "What's the matter? Bad 'shrooms?" (Mushrooms).
  • Pnub smokes some pot.
  • Afraid of Anton and standing behind an open fridge, Mick grabs a beer and offers it to Anton. Anton grabs it, breaks off the top and jams it into Mick's forehead (we hear the impact and then see the broken top sticking out of his head for the rest of the film).
  • Anton mentions that he'll never forget that they (he and his friends) used to sit around and watch TV and "get stoned."
  • Anton tries to light up his marijuana pipe, but is interrupted.
  • Pnub's head smokes pot but it immediately comes out of his severed neck.
  • Randy and Debi drink beer.
  • Mick and Pnub light up "Mighty Joe Bong," an industrial bong they have in their shop class. Anton then takes a long hit (causing Molly to be mad that he's getting "stoned with your friends"), and then blows the smoke into a puppet the hand is wearing, causing the hand to "get high" and give up its fight. Someone then comments, "As usual, marijuana saves an otherwise disastrous day."
  • There appear to be fleeting images of blood as well as that of a bloody face under the opening credits.
  • Anton's mother has blood on her hands after she stumbles to the floor.
  • Blood squirts out from under a bed as a woman is attacked.
  • We see a cat licking up blood from the floor.
  • As Anton puts a knife into a jar of mayonnaise, he sees that it's covered in blood. He then sees the family cat gnawing on a detached eyeball and its fleshy "stalk."
  • Anton discovers the bodies of his dead parents (that have the look of several day old death), including his mother whose eye is missing.
  • We hear Anton throw up.
  • We see the letters "Ant" spelled in blood on the floor as well as two severed ears.
  • We see a broken beer bottle top sticking out of Mick's head (where Anton impaled it) as well as some blood on Anton from that act.
  • Anton throws a rotary saw blade that hits Pnub in the back of the neck. We then see a circle of blood form around Pnub's neck and then see his head fall completely off his body.
  • We see these two friends after they emerge from freshly dug graves (including views of Pnub's headless body carrying his severed head or having it next to him).
  • We see a bullet hole in Pnub's already severed head after a cop shoots him there.
  • Anton jams a knitting-needle all the way through a cop's head, and zaps another cop with a stun gun until the man's flesh is somewhat charred and he presumably dies.
  • We see Anton's bloody stump after he's cut off his own hand with a meat cleaver, as well as the severed hand scampering away and the words "Bad move, Anton" written in blood.
  • We then see blood dripping down onto the already bloody meat cleaver from the severed hand.
  • Blood squirts from Anton's severed hand after he zaps it in a microwave. It also becomes more discolored and finally partially explodes spraying a bloody mess all over the inside of the unit.
  • To get Pnub's head back onto his body, Mick first jams some barbeque tongs into his head and then takes the other end and drives it down into his open neck (with accompanying squishy sounds). After this, Pnub eats a burrito and we see the blackened, chewed up contents oozing from the open wound in his neck.
  • A TV movie shows a vampire biting into a woman's neck and tearing out a big, bloody chunk of her flesh.
  • The severed grabs a guy and bashes his head against a window, creating a bloody mess.
  • We see a bloody body and blood on the wall after the severed hand kills another person.
  • We see the hand running its fingers into an electric pencil sharpener until each finger is now sharp and pointed.
  • The severed hand tears a man's scalp from his head, exposing a bloody mess.
  • We see blood splatter everywhere as a girl is drawn up into a huge, rapidly spinning ventilation fan.
  • Obviously, the homicidal spirit in Anton's hand has both for killing many people.
  • Some viewers may not like the film's flippant attitude toward demonic (evil spirit) possession, murder, brief violence toward animals etc...
  • Anton is a teenage, "stoner" slacker who doesn't go to school and instead sits around and gets high.
  • The guys call women "chicks" and Pnub occasionally comments to Anton, "You scream like a girl," "Stop being such a skirt" and that he looks "queer" doing needlepoint to keep his hands busy.
  • Randy is evidently something of a devil worshiper. He also drives through a flower memorial for some dead students.
  • Anton's parents, turning out the lights to go to bed, see the following written on the ceiling above them: "I'm under the bed." Hearing noises (while we hear scary music), the father goes downstairs while the nervous mother then hears noises both downstairs and in the attic above her. After a few jump scenes, she goes downstairs, stumbles and then finds blood on her hands. She races back upstairs, tries to call 911, but has the phone yanked from her hand by its wall cord. She then gets down on the floor to retrieve it when she's yanked under the bed by an unseen assailant and attacked.
  • Scenes listed under "Blood/Gore," "Jump Scenes" and "Violence" may also be suspenseful and/or scary to some viewers (especially very young kids if they're allowed to see this), although the scenes progressively become more silly and gory than scary.
  • Anton finds blood in the house, sees a detached eyeball, and then slowly makes his way through the house until he ends up in his parents bed where he then sees the above message on the ceiling and runs downstairs where he then discovers his parents' bodies.
  • After his hand kills Mick, Anton chases Pnub through the house trying to kill him as well (the hand eventually succeeds).
  • Having buried his parents and friends in the backyard, Anton hears his friends' voices and then sees them emerging from the freshly dug graves.
  • Hoping to rid himself of his possessed hand, Anton sticks his arm through a bagel guillotine, but finds that it's not sharp enough to do the job. He then tries to cut off his own hand with a meat cleaver, but it eludes him until he gets Pnub's head to bite down on his hand. He then takes that meat clever and severs his hand from his body, with Mick using an iron to cauterize the wound. The severed hand then scampers away.
  • Molly and her friend crawl through huge air ducts to escape the hand and then encounter a rapidly spinning ventilation fan that they not only have to stop, but then must try to crawl through it as it nearly wobbles itself free into spinning again.
  • Anton and his pals struggle with the hand that's holding a lever causing a car, with Molly tied to the roof, to slowly ascend toward a ceiling where she'll be crushed.
  • Although most of the following isn't of the traditional variety for this category, they're still used to kill people and thus the given rating.
  • Handguns: Aimed at Anton by two cops in several scenes.
  • Broken beer bottle top/Rotary saw blade/Knitting needles/Knives: Used to threaten or kill several people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck are you doing?" "Banging" (sexual), "Sucked d*ck," "Jerking off" (masturbation), "Holy sh*t," "D*ckheads," "Bitch," "You lazy bitch" (playfully said from one guy to another), "Pus," "Dumb ass," "Stupid ass," "Bad ass," "Losers," "Dork," "Balls" (testicles), "Chicks" and "Foxy" (for women), "Tards" (for retards), "Piss off," "Piss," "Bastard," "Kick his ass," "Sucks" and "What the hell."
  • Some devil worship material is present such as a pentagram used by the possessed hand, some material seen in a music video, and comments made that Randy is into such stuff.
  • Anton uses a back scratcher to scratch his crotch and we later see Mick puts his hand down the front of his pants, pulls it out and then sniff his fingers.
  • Students may wish to imitate the drug use, and in one scene, Anton rolls up some nutmeg and oregano in a joint and smokes it, attempting to get high (because that's what Mick and Pnub told him to do -- and it obviously doesn't work).
  • Anton grabs the family cat by the tail, spins it around and then flings it out the window where it flies across the lawn and lands in the neighbor's shrubs (it lives).
  • A cat suddenly meows and appears on a bed during a potentially scary scene.
  • Accompanied by a jolt of sudden music, we see two fake bodies with Jack-O-Lantern heads.
  • A hand suddenly grabs a woman from under a bed and pulls her under it.
  • Two men suddenly knock down Anton.
  • People suddenly surprise Anton in several scenes.
  • A hand suddenly erupts from a freshly dug grave.
  • An extreme amount of such music plays throughout the film.
  • A rap video playing on the TV had mostly indecipherable lyrics, but by the visuals seemed to be related to women shaking and gyrating their butts.
  • At least 17 "f" words, 28 "s" words, 3 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck" and "c*ck"), 13 asses (2 used with "hole"), 6 hells, 2 damns and 1 use each of "Jesus," "God," "Oh God," "Oh my God" and "Sweet Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Pnub tells Anton that he didn't say what he was holding (referring to drugs) and then grabs his crotch to reiterate the point.
  • A comment is made about some male twins who were caught "jerking off" (masturbating).
  • One of the guys tells Anton that Molly would rip his clothes off and make love to him in her sweet diary style (or something to that effect).
  • We see brief glimpses of what appears to be some sort of S&M-related video on TV (featuring a buxom, dominatrix-like woman).
  • On the TV we see a music video with a guy doing some clothed pelvic thrusting while singing about women's butts (and we see some women shaking their butts as well as others show lots of cleavage -- both of which the camera focuses on).
  • Molly comes out wearing an open robe that shows her short-short boxers and a tightfitting tube- top. Anton says "Sorry about your bush" (referring to his flinging their cat into it and used somewhat as a double entendre (for pubic hair) as she makes a follow-up comment about her "bush"). His hand then makes him go inside her house (after she continues to act in a sultry manner). When Anton boasts that he's dangerous, his hand suddenly grabs her butt as she bends over facing away from him. In turn, she seductively says, "I never thought you'd have the balls to just grab me like that." She then pushes him to her bed, they kiss, his hand roughly grabs her by the neck causing her to say that he's kinky when he then ties that hand to the bed (as she gets the wrong idea about why he's doing that). Upon hearing her parents come home, she says that they might not like "some dirty boy banging their daughter." As he then leaves through the window (after she says that they'll continue this later), we see that his pants are coming off him (from their earlier activity).
  • A student shows some cleavage.
  • A crying student says that she told two twins to "go blow each other," causing Randy to ask if they did. Randy then sees Anton's hand going wild in his pocket, causing the former to ask the latter, "Playing a little cue ball there, bud?"
  • Upset that a girl has driven away, Randy is mad at Anton stating that he was going to get "some action" and that he can't believe he just "c*ck blocked" him.
  • When a friend asks Anton about his left, non-possessed hand, Anton says that he uses it to relieve some tension (while making the male masturbation gesture).
  • Molly shows some cleavage in her dress.
  • Randy suggestively tells Debi at a bowling alley, "Hey foxy, are you looking for a ball? If you are, I can find one that's the right size for you."
  • We see a couple making out in a car (with him working on her neck) and she comments that it's getting hot (while we see her cleavage). As he then moves down her body, we now see her bare breasts (where he puts his hands) as he evidently makes his way to her crotch. We then see the severed hand feeling her breasts at the same time this other guy is doing the same.
  • We see a school teacher/administrator on the phone to a sex service and hear him say "You've been a bad girl and I want to spank you with my ruler." As the severed hand crawls up this man's pants leg to his crotch, the man states that "she's" got him so hot that "I can feel you touching me."
  • Some students at a dance show cleavage, while Pnub later comments, "I was gonna get some" (sex) while watching the students panic. Later, after seeing that the woman he was interested in has been chopped to bits by a huge ventilation fan, Mick tells him to go back "If you want to get a piece" (double entendre).
  • Debi announces, "My work here is done. Time for the ritualistic sex" and then leaves with Randy.
  • After Molly's dress has been torn away, we see her in her bra and panties (with cleavage and part of her bare butt in those high cut panties) and she then kisses Anton.
  • Beyond the smoking of pot, we see a character smoking on TV.
  • Anton discovers that his parents are dead, but doesn't seem horribly affected by that.
  • The drug use and the fact that marijuana is used to save the day.
  • The film's attempt to elicit laughs from murder, drug use, etc...
  • Anton's parents are killed (one suggested by the blood, the other after being yanked under her bed with blood squirting out and the bed jumping out as if something extremely violent is occurring underneath it -- and we later see their dead bodies).
  • There's talk and news reports of a serial killer who's murdered several people.
  • After pulling their guns on Anton, two upset, but buffoonish cops slam Anton against a fence.
  • To keep Mick from calling the police, Anton (or more correctly, his possessed arm), pulls the phone cord from the wall, breaks a beer bottle and slams the broken top into Mick's forehead, killing him.
  • Anton slams his hand through the basement door and moments later as Pnub tries to escape, Anton throws a rotary saw blade at Pnub, hitting him in the back of the neck (we hear the impact) and decapitating him (we see the head fall off).
  • Anton grabs the family cat by the tail, spins it around and then flings it out the window where it flies across the lawn and lands in the neighbor's shrubs (it lives).
  • Posing as a fast food employee, Anton throws a kitchen knife at a man who unknowingly ducks out of the way just in time.
  • Two cops aim their guns at Anton. Seeing Pnub's severed head, one of them panics and shoots it (we see the bullet hole). Anton then jams a knitting-needle all the way through a cop's head, and zaps the other with a stun gun until the man's flesh is somewhat charred and he presumably dies.
  • Hoping to rid himself of his possessed hand, Anton sticks his arm through a bagel guillotine, but finds that it's not sharp enough to do the job. He then tries to cut off his own hand with a meat cleaver, but it eludes him until he gets Pnub's head to bite down on his hand. He then takes that meat clever and severs his hand from his body.
  • Anton's severed hand attacks him after landing on his face. Anton then throws the hand into the microwave, starts it, and we then see blood squirt from the hand as it bubbles and pops. It later escapes, however, and breaks through a window.
  • A TV movie shows a vampire biting into a woman's neck and tearing out a big, bloody chunk of her flesh.
  • Anton and his pals unknowingly back up Randy's truck into Debi, knocking her unconscious.
  • The severed hand grabs a bare-breasted woman by the neck and we then hear neck breaking sounds. It then grabs the guy in the car with her and bashes his head against a window, creating a bloody mess.
  • After crawling up a man's pants leg to his crotch, the severed hand evidently squeezes him there and kills him.
  • Debi tries to stab Anton with a large knife and then slams him against a wall and then to the floor. She then gets on top of him and he has to hold off the knife with his remaining hand (eventually biting hers to make her let go). Randy then punches Anton in the gut.
  • The severed hand tears a man's scalp from his head, exposing a bloody mess. It then cuts a rope holding up a lighting grid that falls onto several students.
  • The hand attacks another girl, causing her to be hanged from a huge ventilation fan that then starts spinning again, drawing her body up toward its blades (and we then see blood splatter everywhere).
  • Debi throws a knife that impales the severed hand into Mick's chest (he's already dead -- or undead).
  • A car falls onto a person from a car lift (injuring, but not killing them).

  • Reviewed April 22, 1999 / Posted April 30, 1999

    Other new and recent reviews include:

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