I caught a story on the morning news about Jeff Kepner, the first man in America to receive a double hand transplant. The family of a 23-year old Pennsylvania man donated the hands to Kepner who looks forward to “hold[ing his] daughter's hand and…grandchildren's hands someday.” Kepner’s amazing story reminded me of several horror films that use disembodied hands to strike fear into the hearts of moviegoers. So here they are in the list of Top Ten Evil Hands.
10. The Crawling Hand (1963) This horror camp-fest was featured on episode 106 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and stars an astronaut’s dead hand that plummets to earth and begins to strangle the living. An astronaut is on his way back to earth when he begs mission control to self destruct his rocket before it lands. They do and the poor spaceman is blown to bits. The hand is discovered by college student Paul Lawrence who keeps it to himself for further study, but the hand soon evades his control and begins killing innocent victims.
9. Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992) Waxwork II picks up right where the first film left off, with Mark and Sarah leaving the burning building of the waxwork behind them. But danger looms in the form of a disembodied zombie hand that follows Sarah home to her flat and kills her stepfather. The hand tries to kill Sarah too, but she shoves it down the garbage disposal, splashing the entire room with gore.
8. Idle Hands (1991) Anton’s idea of the perfect life is lazing about the house all day and smoking weed with his two best friends. But idle hands are the devil’s playground, and things turn hairy when Anton’s right hand is possessed by an ancient evil. He racks up quite a body count before lopping it off with a meat cleaver. But after the hand is let loose, it goes on the hunt for Anton’s girlfriend Molly (Jessica Alba).
7. The Beast With Five Fingers (1946) Peter Lorre plays Hilary Cummins, a man who is attacked by the hand of a pianist named Francis Ingram. Ingram has returned to his Italian villa after a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. His constant companion is the pretty nurse Julie, but after he discovers she is in love with someone else he takes a tumble down the stairs and falls to his death. His hand comes back from the grave to play his piano and commit several grisly murders.
6. The Hand (1981) Directed by Oliver Stone, The Hand chronicles the story of comic book artist Jon Lansdale who loses his right hand in a car accident. Strangely, the severed hand isn’t found at the scene of the accident. Instead it sneaks off and begins to the follow Jon around, killing his enemies.
5. Splinter (2008) Splinter contains not one but two evil hands that might just give Thing a run for his money. In the backwoods of Oklahoma there is an ancient creature that survives by infecting other animals with its spines and inhabiting their bodies as hosts. But if a part of the body it inhabits breaks off, it can function independently from the larger organism.
This is displayed in frightening detail as Dennis tries to drag his dead girlfriend Lacey into a gas station. Possessed by the creature, she tries to attack him and gets her hand cut off in the door. Another evil hand is born when the creature shoves its forearm through the cash window as the group inside the gas station attempt to snag the dead state trooper's walkie talkie.
4. Mad Love (1935) A remake of The Hands of Orlac, Mad love takes place principally in the Grand Guignol theater where Dr. Gogol, played by Petter Lorre, is a man obsessed with the stage starlet Yvonne Orlac. When the hands of Yvonne’s husband Stephen are mangled in a train accident, Dr. Gogol replaces them with the hands of a guillotined knife thrower.
3. Evil Dead II (1987) Ash’s hand is infected by a bite from Linda, his girlfriend turned deadite, and becomes possessed by the evil forces that surround the cabin in Evil Dead II. In a scene of classic slapstick, the hand beats up Ash in the kitchen and makes a grab for a cleaver to finish him off. Ash is too fast for the little bugger and he pins his hand to the floor with a knife, proceeding to cut it off with a chainsaw. But the battle is far from over and Ash still has to combat his own disembodied appendage in a fight to the death.
2. The Hands of Orlac (1924) The concert pianist Paul Orlac tragically loses his hands in a railway accident. He undergoes emergency surgery and his hands are replaced with those of a recently executed criminal. While there is nothing physically wrong with him, Orlac is plagued by the feeling that his new hands are imbued with some of their owner’s past tendencies. When Orlac’s father is killed, he is suspected of the murder and Orlac is forced to set things right. Conrad Veidt plays the tortured pianist in this 1924 German expressionist masterpiece.
1. The Addams Family (1991) The favorite servant of the Addams Family, Thing first appeared in the comics Charles Addams drew for the New Yorker in the 1930s. In the 1960’s television series, Thing was played by Ted Cassidy who also played Lurch and would often appear from boxes or behind curtains and pottery to give the illusion of a severed limb. Thanks to special effects and the dexterous hands of Christopher Hart, Thing was given free rein in the Addams Family films and scuttles with spider-like movements to carry out the family's wishes.
The Hand, Digits of Death
Review of The Hand (1981)
“Let Loose” by Mary Cholmondeley (a tale about a ghostly killer hand).