Idle Hands (1999)
A Killer What?
A demon possessed hand that jumps from person to person and drags its victims into Hell. Or at least that’s the premise that Vivica A. Fox’s character delivers. We only see one of the hand’s previous victims, who is now in prison with a withered hand. And as for the dragging to Hell, Fox’s character seems to indicate that the hand drags the affected person to hell but when it comes time to try and kill Jessica Alba’s character this just takes the form of trying to crush her body against a ceiling with a pentagram painted on it. They probably didn’t put a lot of thought into it and you shouldn’t either!
Is it Any Good?
It’s pretty good but there’s an asterisk on that. Though it’s regarded, pretty rightly, as one of the bleakest decades for the horror genre, the 90s nonetheless features a lot of gems, some of them hiding in plain sight. However, there is a certain 90s stank that hangs over anything made after ‘95 and especially anything made post-Scream. Idle Hands both plays off of and suffers from this very stank, it’s a movie that could only have existed in the late 90s which makes it a singular cultural experience but also dates it considerably.
While Anton (Devin Sawa) was always meant to be seen as kind of a loser, the two intervening decades have turned him into someone who’s almost irredeemably unlikeable. If not for the involvement of Seth Green and Elden Henson as Anton’s undead friends who seem to have been brought back to life to help him but only seem to make things worse, I daresay this movie wouldn’t be as beloved as it is. Another strong point is Jessica Alba’s love interest who is clearly cooler than Anton, smarter than Anton, far more confident and a very independent sex-positive woman which is fairly impressive for a teenage comedy in the 90s.
Mostly the selling point of Idle Hands is how dark it’s willing to go. Hardcore gory horror was pretty out of vogue in the 90s and something as campy and violent as this movie was pretty much a relic of the 80s. It’s apparent that some of or all the parties responsible for this movie saw Evil Dead 2 and decided that the scene where Ash fights with his possessed hand could be its own movie. And despite that 90s stank, Idle Hands does work as a sort of living tribute to Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and various other people who made goofy ultra-violent horror five years to a decade prior.
The only point when it succumbs to the 90sness is in the film’s climax when the hand climbs inside a hand puppet and Anton battles the hand by getting a giant bong and making it high. The movie certainly emphasizes the comedy angle but this scene is just too stupid to fit with the rest.
Watch, Toss, or Buy?
I’d say this is worth a buy.