There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
For the past few months we have dove deep into two classic slasher properties involving blades and hockeymasks. While I do have other franchises to discuss with you, for the next few weeks we are going to go back to the single movie mode in order to cleanse the pallet, and what a better film to do that with than today’s entry, the late 90’s horror/comedy Idle Hands.
Today’s Key Movie:
Stoner Slacker Anton Tobias (Sawa) has a problem. His right hand has become possessed by a demon and, after murdering several people, including his parents and best friends, he must find a way to stop it, or suffer the consequences. Starring Devan Sawa, Seth Green, Elden Henson, Jessica Alba, Vivica A Fox and Christopher Hart as The Hand, this film serves as a reminder of what happens when you have too much time on your…hands.
Why this movie?
The first time I saw this movie was on vhs after renting it from a grocery story down the street from my first apartment. At the time I had finally moved out on my own and, once a week, I would walk down to the local Albertsons and visit their small but well stocked video rental shop. Now, for you young kids out there, in the early 2000’s streaming wasn’t really a thing, the internet was still pretty young and even DVD’s were just starting to really be available. So, there were shops, some stand alone like Blockbuster Video and sometimes even a local grocer would get into the action providing the hottest new releases for under $5.
What attracted me to this film was the fact that one, I loved horror, two I adored comedy and three, Seth Green was in it. I kid you not. Seth Green had already become one of my favorite actors having shown up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and even the IT mini series before that), I was stoked. So, taking this fun looking rather punk rock feeling creature feature home, I sat down on my cushion-less couch (don’t ask) with my ramen noodle dinner and enjoyed what would become one of my favorite dark comedies of it’s time.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
Idle Hands is a fun blend of stoner comedy, horror and teen romcom all baked into a very fun edible that will have you laughing and jumping the entire time. It is not a serious horror film at all, more along the lines of Army of Darkness which is what makes nearly every moment of this movie work.
To start off, the cast in this is brilliant. Lead Devan Sawa, who you might remember from Final Destination and the Casper movie (yeah he was Casper!), is perfect in his roll as teen stoner who finds himself with a cursed hand. He owns his aloof and slacker nature so perfectly that he is utterly convincing the entire time. Not only that but he manages the possessed hand bit fantastically, well, while he has it… However, while he is good, it is his costars that really make this film a joy establishing this as more of an ensemble cast than a solo effort. Seth Green and Elden Henson play Anton’s stoner best friends, Mick and Pnub, who he kills but…manage to come back to life. These two are the true comic relief of the film acting as both best friends and stoner zombies for much of the film playing to Sawa’s straight man routine to perfection. These two have some of the best lines and nearly steal the show every time they are on screen together. While everyone knows Seth Green, you might recognize Henson from his more recent work as Foggy Nelson in Daredevil and even further back as Fulton in The Mighty Ducks. The guy is talented and even twenty years ago, it shows.
Rounding out the primary cast is a very young Jessica Alba, Vivica A Fox, Jack Noseworthy and someone you might not recognize by the name of Christopher Hart. Alba plays a rather overly lustful Molly, the romantic interest for Sawa, providing a reason for Anton to not want to keep his possessed hand around, because you see, the Hand really wants to kill Molly (especially after it finds a life of it’s own.) Unknown to Anton, someone else is tracking the cursed hand in the form of Debi LeCure who teams with local ‘Satanist’ Randy, played by Vivica A Fox and Jack Noseworthy respectively. Fox’s character is basically the Ash of this Evil Dead inspired film and will stop at nothing to take this evil thing down while Noseworthy is mostly along for the ride.
Now, the hand. While it is on Anton it is played by Sawa, of course, however, it soon become severed where it is played by none other than Christopher Hart. Now, whether you know it or not you know Hart’s work. In fact, he played a previous Hand in a film series called The Adams Family. Yep, he was Thing and while Hart has not had many opportunities to play the hands he was meant to play, when he does, they are nothing short of epic.
One thing I was impressed with were the special effects. It was clear that the filmmakers wanted everything to be as realistic as possible while embracing the absurd and boy do they pull it off admirably. Not only does the disembodied hand look great but the makup used on Green and Henson is just perfect. Playing off of the campy zombie films it is clearly inspired by, the filmmakers use a blend of practical and cgi effects that somehow still work to this day. While the cgi is a little dated at times, it is never distracting from the story and is only improved by the practical effects. The brilliance is that none of the effects are overdone or abused which seemed to be the trend at the time allowing this movie to age well even 20+ years later.
The film itself is a nonstop horror comedy fest that wastes no time getting to the point. Things happen quickly in this one, which is a good thing because there is a lot of ground to cover balancing Anton’s love affair with Molly, the possessed hand, a pair of zombie best friends and a demon hunter. Oh, and did I mention that since this is a high school story there is also a big dance? Yep, featuring a ‘live’ concert from a band that you might have heard of by the name of The Offspring. While it might seem overly complicated, somehow director Rodman Flender finds a way to make it work creating what feels like the perfect blend of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Evil Dead That coupled with a great score by Graeme Revell who handled all of the best films of the time including The Crow and The Craft, this movie still remains one of my favorites.
Bottom line, Idle Hands is a product of it’s time and one you have to go into just looking for a fun film to watch. It is not the best horror or comedy film of all time but somehow manages to make an absurd story work in every way possible. It is an absolute blast and one that if you like shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or movies like Evil Dead, this one is very much for you.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This one is still available and one I really recommend picking up. You can see it on nearly every paid streaming service these days and it is on bluray as well. Do yourself a favor and give it a go, you won’t regret it.
Late To The Game 4/1/2021
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
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