Black Pulp

Here’s a press-release from the good folks at Pro Se, regarding their latest release, Black Pulp. I guess what makes this interesting is that the tales are in the style of the Golden Age of Pulp, rather than a pastiche of ’60s and ’70s Blaxploitation Pulp.

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Pro Se Productions, a Publisher known for balancing tales harkening back to classic pulp fiction with stories pushing the boundaries of modern genre fiction, continues its publishing of books that do both. Pro Se proudly announces the debut of BLACK PULP, a collection featuring the works of various authors, including bestsellers Walter Mosley and Joe R. Lansdale.

BLACK PULP is an anthology of original stories featuring black characters in leading roles in stories running the genre gamut. Pulp fiction of the early 20th century rarely — from Doc Savage, Black Mask to the Shadow — if ever, focused on characters of color. The handful of black characters in these stories were typically portrayed stereotypically. BLACK PULP brings some of today’s best authors together with up and coming writers to craft stories of adventure, mystery, and more — all with black characters in the forefront.

Co-editor of BLACK PULP, crime novelist Gary Phillips observed, “While revisionism is not history, as the films Django Unchained and 42 attest, nonetheless historical matters find their way into popular fiction. This is certainly the case with New Pulp as it handles such issues as race with a modern take, even though stories can be set in a retro context.”

Black Pulp offers exciting tales of derring-do from larger-than-life heroes and heroines; aviators in sky battles, lords of the jungle, pirates battling slavers and the walking dead, gadget-wielding soldiers-of-fortune saving the world to mystics fighting for justice in other worlds.

“The title is indeed BLACK PULP,” Pro Se Productions publisher and Black Pulp co-editor Tommy Hancock, “but these stories appeal to all. All of the basic needs for a story to touch a reader are there, including emotion, action, relevance, and more. To see all of that in a Pulp story funneled through characters that got the short shrift in terms of appropriate treatment in classic Pulp is definitely something worth sharing.”

BLACK PULP also features a new essay on the nature of Pulp, both classic and modern, by award winning bestselling author Walter Mosley.

The other writers contributing original works to the anthology are: two-time Shamus award winner Gar Anthony Haywood, two time Pulitzer finalist Kimberly Richardson, Dixon Medal winner Christopher Chambers, critically acclaimed novelist Mel Odom, hip-hop chronicler Michael Gonzales, and award winning leading New Pulp writers Ron Fortier, D. Alan Lewis, Derrick Ferguson, Charles Saunders, Tommy Hancock, and Chester Himes award winner Phillips. This collection also features a classic story by Joe R. Lansdale, winner of the Edgar Allan Poe award, and multiple Bram Stoker awards.

BLACK PULP is available now from Amazon and via Pro Se’s own store at Createspace. Coming soon in digital format to Kindle, Nook, and more!

With a pulse pounding original cover by artist Adam Shaw and stunning cover design by Sean Ali, BLACK PULP delivers hair raising action and two fisted adventure out of both barrels!

Black Pulp

Skyfall – Pretitle Sequence

Skyfall was released on DVD and Bluray in Australia, just a few weeks ago, and naturally in that time I have had an opportunity to watch it a few times. And I have to say, it is one of the most enjoyable of all Bond films. But films and books are very different things – and the illogical plot points you can get away with in a movie, are just clunky on the written page – or simply do not make sense.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at the pre-title sequence of Skyfall. A brief warning, if you have not seen the film, major SPOILERS to follow. You may want to come back, once you’ve watched the movie.

So, the film opens in Istanbul. James Bond (Daniel Craig) enters a building, where a covert operation is taking place. Sensing something is wrong, Bond draws his weapon and upon entering another room, sees a dead man lying in a pool of blood, and a fellow agent, Ronson, on a chair with a severe stomach wound.

At that point, M (Judi Dench), who is in London, but communicating through a earpiece, asks Bond “Is it there?” She is referring to a list of agents, who are working undercover in various terrorist organisations. This list was on a computer. Bond spies the computer, but the hard drive had been removed.

Now, I am going to pause it here.

First, let’s look at this operation. It is clearly a very important operation as both M and her Chief of Staff, Tanner (Rory Kinnear) and linked to the agents in the field. Bond and another operative (who we are introduced to later), Eve (Naomie Harris) are backup for Ronson.

The fact that Bond is backup for Ronson means one of two things. Either, Ronson is a better agent than Bond, or the mission is Ronson’s baby, and he is meeting his contact. Now, Ronson’s mission is either to receive the list of agents, or to share that list with an ally (such as the CIA). Therefore, if he is sharing the list with an ally, then it wouldn’t have to be Ronson at the exchange – since he is, we would assume he is better than Bond. If he was meeting his contact, then he’d be getting the list back, which would imply that it had been stolen (and was already out it the open), which would negate the next half of the film.

So Ronson must be a better agent than Bond, and be sharing the list with an ally.

As Ronson is better than Bond, and the meeting is with an ally, there would be no reason that he wouldn’t be wired up to M, Tanner, Bond and Eve too. Now we have to assume the exchange was interrupted by Patrice (Ola Rapace), who must have burst into the building (without Bond and Eve seeing – and notifying Ronson, that an intruder had just entered the building). Patrice then shot Ronson first – so he is unable to communicate. Then he shot the ally agent, killing him, then removed the hard drive.

As an adjunct, in this day an age, there must be a better way to exchange information like this than a physical meeting between two agents – surely encrypted information can be sent over the internet? However, knowing that the villain of the piece will later be revealed to be a computer genius, negating an internet option, could I suggest that a flash drive, SD card or portable hard drive would still be a more practical (and discreet) way to transport the information.

If Ronson was wired up, then M would want to know why he was not responding. Bond and Eve would hear this too, and perhaps, that is why Bond entered the building. He would have instructed Eve, to watch the other exits.

Bond enters the building, initially without a drawn weapon. That seems strange, but he is Bond, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The scene plays out as described above.

Upon discovery that the hard-drive is missing, Bond is instructed to go after the thief / murderer. It just so happens, that Eve has seen Patrice leave the building but has neglected to tell anyone over the comlink. As Bond leaves the building she pulls over in a four-wheel-drive, in which she has been sitting. He gets in. The pursuit begins.

The car chase culminates with both vehicles, Bond and Eve, and Patrice, crashing. Patrice produces a machine pistol, with an impossibly large magazine and starts spraying lead everywhere. We later find out, that this lead is not actually lead at all, but depleted uranium core. But none-the-less, Patrice shoots up the place, before escaping on a motorcycle.

Bond follows Patrice on another motorcycle. Eve follows in her bullet riddled four-wheel-drive. Both Bond and Patrice end up on the roof of a train, sans bikes. During the ensuing running roof-top battle, Patrice shoots Bond in the right shoulder. The bullet appears to have gone right through, as later, the viewer can see exit wound blood (although no hole) on the back of Bond’s jacket

As an adjunct here, I’d like to quote from Jeffery Deaver’s 2011 James Bond novel, Carte Blanche – Hodder & Stoughton Hardback edition – page 11.

‘Now I’m ninety per cent sure he’ll believe you,’ Bond said. ‘But if not, and he engages, remember that under no circumstances is he to be killed. I need him alive. Aim to wound him in the arm he favours, near the elbow, not the shoulder.’ Despite what one saw in the movies, a shoulder wound was usually as fatal as one to the abdomen or chest.

So Bond is injured, and if we are to take Mr. Deaver’s words on board, quite seriously too. The roof-top chase on the train continues, until both men are squaring off, mano a mano. Eve, has kept up the pursuit in the four-wheel-drive, but has run out of road. She gets out of the vehicle, with what looks like a sniper’s rifle.

The train is crossing a river, and a tunnel looms ahead. If Bond and Patrice go into the tunnel, then Eve can no longer provide any backup. But, she has to ensure that Patrice and the list, do not escape. M instructs her to fire, “Take the bloody shot!”. Eve shoots, and ….

… Bond is hit and falls from the train, down in the the river below.

Title sequence begins.

Now, I am not sure where Eve’s bullet struck Bond. The title sequence, with a stylized stream of blood issuing from Bond’s shoulder would indicate she hit him in the exact same shoulder as Patrice. The scars displayed, later in the movie (set only three months later), would suggest my guess is correct. So, Bond has been shot twice in the same shoulder. Once with a bullet made from a depleted uranium core, and the other from a sniper’s rifle. I know very little about weapons, but I would guess sniper’s rifles are a high-powered weapon. I would also guess that after being hit, Bond would not have any shoulder left to heal – but that is all supposition. I do not intend to test my theory by shooting somebody. However, once again, I would draw your attention to Mr. Deaver’s words above. Mmmm!

But this is Bond, so we figure he can shrug off a couple of potentially fatal bullet wounds.

Let’s look at how the events of the pre-title sequence influence the rest of the story. Firstly, as you’d be aware, Bond is in a self-imposed exile for three months, recuperating from his wounds. Over those months, MI6 do not, and cannot retrieve the stolen list of undercover agents. Later, only when Bond cuts open his shoulder to retrieve shrapnel fragments from Patrice’s bullet – does the story start moving. The depleted uranium core bullets are only used by three people, and Bond recognizes Patrice’s face. Bond is sent to Shanghai – essentially starting the story afresh.

But hang on! Didn’t Patrice fire literally hundreds of these rounds at Bond and Eve. They struck the four-wheel-drive. Surely, someone – even the most lowly policeman – collected one of the bullets and analyzed it. Upon discovery of the unique uranium bullet type, Eve could have recognized Patrice as easily as Bond.

The mission should have been up and running. Patrice should have been picked up, gagged, blindfolded, and shipped to some black rendition site, where he was waterboard tortured until he gave up Silva’s name. Well, at least that’s how I’d run MI6 (I jest, of course).

But, I am sure you get my point. MI6 has ceased to function without Bond. No wonder Gareth Mallory wants M to resign. The whole opening to Skyfall is poorly plotted, and barely makes sense. If I served the same story up in a spy novel, my readers would, after the first chapter, hurl the book at the wall. Then possibly track me down, break my fingers, so I couldn’t tap out such a load of piffle ever again.

But film and novels are very different mediums. As I said at the top, I loved Skyfall, and will gladly watch it again – with a healthy, and much needed, suspension of disbelief.

Skyfall – Pretitle Sequence

Hearts and Armour (1983)

Country: Italy
Starring: Rick Edwards, Barbara De Rossi, Tanya Roberts, Ron Moss, Leigh McClosky, Tony Vogel, Maurizio Nichetti, Zeudi Araya
Director: Giacomo Battiato
Writer: Giacomo Battiato, Sergio Donatti
Cinematographer: Dante Spinotti
Music: Cooper and Hughes
Producers: Nicola Carraro, Franco Cristaldi
Original Title: I Paladini – storia d’armi e d’amori

Hearts and Armour is essentially a clone of John Boorman’s Excalibur. While Excalibur mined Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur for inspiration, likewise Hearts and Armour has gone back to a classic poem called Orlando furioso, written by Ludovico Ariosto in the early sixteenth century. Allegedly this film was also made into a television mini-series, and what we have here is presumably the edited down version. The only reference I can find to this is in my battered copy of Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide 1996 (I really should update it some day — but with the internet it kinda seems superfluous). Scouring the internet, searching under the different names that this film has traveled under, I can find no positive proof or reference to the TV mini-series; so a part of me almost doubts that it was made. Possibly nobody put up the extra cash required for a longer version? But, hey I could be wrong — and it wouldn’t be the first or the last time.

Now if you’re going to attempt to watch this movie, the first thing you have to get past is the music by Hughes and Cooper — being David A. Hughes (one time member of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — AKA: OMD) — and Martin Cooper. It is an absolutely dreadful electronic rock score that doesn’t follow the film at all. It provides no modifying or emotional effect. The music is loud — really loud — and uptempo regardless of whether a fight scene or a tender love scene is on the screen. I know many people rave about the music, but all I can say is ‘kids, don’t do drugs!’

As the film open Bradamante (Barbara De Rossi) is meeting with a sorceress in a deep dark grotto. The sorceress informs her that she will fall in love with a Moorish Prince named Ruggero. Then the sorceress’ vision, which is displayed on the cave wall like a television monitor, shows the Knight who will kill Ruggero. This knight has a metallic flame emblem on his helmet.

Bradamante runs off horrified at the visions she has just witnessed. Whether she is upset about falling in love with a Moor, or upset that she falls in love with a Moor and then he is killed, is never really explained. But whatever thoughts go on in her mind, have urged her to make a journey. To where is never really explained either. But she travels on horseback along a shallow creek bed which is surrounded on both sides by high rocky cliffs. From the rocks a band of men leap down, knocking her off her horse and into the water. These men are after a little ‘R and R’ — Robbery and Rape. Actually I don’t even think that they were too interested in the robbery, because rather than check her horse for valuables, they proceed straight to the raping. First the brutes start to rip off her clothing and then start to fight each other for first dibs. Just as it seem as if things are are going to get ugly, a knight appears at the end of the waterway mounted on a mighty steed. Seeing Bradamante in peril, the knight gallops at full speed to her rescue, and then proceeds to lop off the limbs from the horny horde of robbing rapists.

As the rapists thrash and wail around in the water — they were not killed — the knight speaks:

‘Bradamante, you left your wealth and comfort behind. But your bravery is not enough. Take my armour and sword and no-one will ever hurt you again’.

The magical thing is, that there isn’t a knight inside the suit of armour. When Bradamante pull back the face guard, she finds that the suit is empty. It is a magical enchanted suit of armour — just for her.

Meanwhile the knight with the flame emblem on his helmet, from the sorceress’ prophecy, rides into a small village. He stops, waters his horse and then takes off his helmet. We are greeted by the good, blonde haired, blue-eyed Christian knight, Orlando (Rick Edwards). Because he has blonde hair and blue-eyes, he must be the hero of this film. Orlando makes a few repairs around the village and then rides on until he meets up with a group of fellow Christian knights.

Elsewhere, a Moorish Princess, Angelica (Tanya Roberts), and a troupe of bodyguards are riding down the waterway – you know, the same one that Bradamante traveled down. Up above them the ‘robbing rapists’ have regrouped — albeit without their severed limbs. One of them has even been so industrious to make an appliance where he can plug his sword where his hand used to be. The ‘robbing rapists’ leap down from their hiding places and start clawing at Princess Angelica’s clothes. But once again, the mysterious knight appears at the end of the waterway and begins to charge at the rapists with a drawn sword. The rapists flee. Of course, this time Bradamante is inside the suit of armour.

In the Moor encampment, by the sea, Ruggero (Ron Moss) is preparing to leave the camp. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because his sister, the Christians have taken Angelica prisoner. Actually it couldn’t be that — because that hasn’t happened yet. That’s in the next scene. Oh well, Ruggero must be restless, and want to roam the countryside looking for Christians to kill.

As I suggested above, indeed, Angelica is taken prisoner by Bradamante, who takes her to her Christian King as a prisoner. Along the trail she runs into Orlando and his stout-hearted band of Christian knights. They continue their journey together. Ruggero continues his quest to retrieve his sister, and he too is soon caught by the Christians. Now all the cast is gathered together in one spot, the love stories can begin. After all, this film is called Hearts and Armour. We’ve had a lot of armour — really silly armour — but now it’s time for a bit of romance. In this film there are tow love at first sight stories going on. Firstly, Ruggero and Bradamante fall in love — well that’s hardly surprising because the sorceress at the beginning of the film told us so. But, we didn’t expect Orlando to fall for Angelica. How’s that for a bizarre emotional entanglement. Fate has deemed that Orlando will kill Ruggero, but yet Orlando has fallen in love with Ruggero’s sister. And meanwhile, Bradamante is just trying to play peacekeeper.

The films continues to spiral towards its fateful and inevitable showdown, and despite the clumsiness of the first half, the film begins to pick up momentum in the second half. The introduction of a few new characters adds a bit of zest to the story. The first is a wizard named Atlante (Maurizio Nichetti), who is like a small live action version of Yoda — that is, if Yoda had been tarred and feathered. He enlivens things with a few invisibility spells and some not so prophetic wisdom.

The second character is a crazy Moorish knight named Ferreau (Tony Vogel). During his quest or travels, he discovers Princess Angelica who has managed to escape from her Christian captors. He promises to protect her and lead her back to the Moorish encampment and safety. But like most of the male characters in this film, instead he tries to rape her. In fact, poor old Angelica spends most of the film in a torn dress with her right nork hanging out, as various characters try to rape her. At one point, even an invisible priest tries to rape her. It’s tough work being a Princess in medieval Italy.

Now I am trying not to talk about the armour in this film, because many other reviewers have talked at length about the costume design — but in all fairness, I cannot shy away from it. The screencaps throughout this review will not do justice to weird, wild and wonderful armoured creations that populate this film — especially on the tops of their helmets. Orlando has this weird lopsided crest of flame. Bradamante has a circle disk — which could be all sorts of things (the sun, a halo, or a piece from a nice table setting). One of Orlando’s men has a sword jammed into his head, the actual blade runs down the front of his armour. Another has what looks like rams or goats horns. And one has what looks like a tulip. Along the way, they battle men with even weirder armour. Farreau’s costume make him look like some kind of bird, the Japanese Samurai wears a facemask that makes him look like ‘V’ from V for Vendetta. One set of armour even has a little tree at the top. Obviously, whoever was in charge of costume design, and the armoured creations was a person of great imagination and skill. But somehow, despite all the work and craft that have gone into the designs, at times I can’t help but think ‘man that looks really stupid!’

Many of the fight scenes are poorly choreographed, and that may simply be because it is hard to choreograph fight scenes between people in suits of armour. Conan, Dar (from The Beastmaster), an Talon (from The Sword and the Sorcerer) were not weighed down by heavy armour and as such were free in their movements. Nearly all of Orlando’s fight scenes are in heavy armour, and they are slow. Some people, who are into medieval authenticity may claim that the film is simply trying to be truthful, but the movie only runs 100 minutes and if all the fight scenes were played out in real-time, the film would give Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace a run for its money in screen time. Ruggero comes off a lot better, because he doesn’t really don his armour too often. He has freedom to move around, and pose stoically. That’s another thing you can’t do in a suit of armour, is hold a pose while the wind rushes through your hair.

The film is plagued to two major short-comings. The first is the serious tone throughout. It is po-faced without an ounce of humour — well not intentional anyway. I laughed at nearly every scene with Ferrau, because Tony Vogel’s acting performance is off the chart. It’s like the man has a rubber jaw and cannot deliver a simple bit of dialogue without pulling a face. The second flaw, is the lack of narrative. People appear to do things for no reason — they just travel. I think we are supposed to see the film (most of it) through Bradamante’s eyes, but even she is hard to relate to. Like at the beginning, why is she seeing a sorceress? Then, where is she going. The suit of armour tells us she has given up a life or privilege — where and why? Then she receives an enchanted suit of armour — again, I ask why? It’s not like she used it for some noble purpose. At least the other characters are knights and as such their motivations can be distilled down to simple patriotism, and then later lust.

I know it seems like I am giving Hearts and Armour a right proper kicking, but the truth is that it isn’t that bad. There are quite a few good moments, and the cinematography is first rate, with some striking images that will stay in your head for a long time after you’ve watched the film. Of course the female leads are easy on the eye too. Tanya Roberts doesn’t have a nude scene under a waterfall, which I believe she should have written into every film contract. But you can’t have everything. However, she does look stunning in her torn blue dress. Barbara De Rossi appears to have a bit of spunk too, but her character is such a grumble-bum, sometimes it’s hard to warm to her. Finally there is Zeudi Araya as Ruggero’s sister, Marfisa. She doesn’t get much screen time, but she makes a strong impression with the scenes she does have.

The two male leads, Rick Edwards and Ron Moss come off pretty good. They are both good looking fellas and even though the film lacks narrative, you feel like you have been on a journey with both men — even if that journey leads them to a simple understanding that ‘there is no honour in war’.

I think my problem with Hearts and Armour stems from the fact that it is one of the few films of its kind that I didn’t see when it was originally released. Others like Conan, The Sword and the Sorcerer, The Beastmaster and a whole slew of others, I saw either at the cinema or later, immediately when they were released on video. I saw these films during my formative years and at a time of where these films were relevant to my peers. In that regard I probably overlook and forgive many of the flaws in those films because I know them so well or I simply have a retrospective positive association with each film. But not so Hearts and Armour. I have no inbuilt love for the film.

Ultimately Hearts and Armour is a second tier Sword and Sorcery movie from the early eighties. Just that simple sentence should tell you a lot about the film. If you’re tolerant of such fare, you may find a bit to enjoy here — I found a little bit. However, if you are after something a little more swashbuckling and driven, then this film may try your patience.

Hearts and Armour (1983)

The Hand (1981)

Country: United States
Starring: Michael Caine, Andrea Marcovicci, Annie McEnroe, Bruce McGill, Viveca Lindfors, Rosemary Murphy, Mara Hobel
Writer: Oliver Stone
Director: Oliver Stone
Cinematograher: King Baggot
Music: James Horner
Producer: Edward R. Pressman

The great thing about watching a Michael Caine film is that you do not know what you are going to get. It could be a masterpiece, or Caine may have simply needed some cash to build an extension to his home. And that works for me. Though The Hand is a strange addition to the Caine cannon. The film is complete B-grade trash, but Caine gives an absolutely mesmerising performance, displaying a full range of emotions, from gentle humour and tenderness, through pain and anger, and finally to delusional psychosis. It is so strange that Caine should put in a performance of this quality for a film that frankly, doesn’t warrant it. Needless to say, the film is all the better for it, and at times it is easier to overlook some of the film’s inconsistencies due to the weight of Caine’s performance.

But the film is pretty silly though. Caine plays Jonathan Lansdale who is a successful writer of a comic strip featuring a character named ‘Mandro’. He lives with his wife Anne (Andrea Marcovicci) and his daughter Lizzy by a lake in the countryside. It all seems rather idyllic. But not so. Lansdale’s wife is not happy. She misses the city and wants to move back to New York with their daughter. The couple have an argument about this while she drives him to a meeting. Distressed and distracted, she tries to overtake a truck on a turn. Another vehicle comes from the opposite direction and the Lansdale’s are sandwiched in between. With his hand out the window, Lansdale tries to signal to the driver behind them to slow down so they can pull back in to the correct lane in safety – but too late! Lansdale’s hand is ripped off by the vehicle traveling the other way. The hand flies off through the air and lands in a long grassy field beside the road. A search is mounted for the hand but it is never found.

Months pass and the Lansdale family is coming to terms with Jonathan’s stump. At a checkup at the doctors, Lansdale tells the doc that he can still feel his fingers. The doctor says that these are just phantom feelings. His brain has not come to terms with the loss of the hand yet, and he could feel phantom sensations for years. Here is where the story gets predictably weird. It appears that Lansdale’s hand has come back to life and is now stalking its former owner. Why is it stalking its owner – well that’s never really explained. In fact a lot is left unexplained in this film. It is never made clear if ‘The Hand’ is on Lansdale’s side – like a friend – or whether the ‘The Hand’ is upset and angry because it is no longer a part of Lansdale’s body and it simply wants to cause havoc. Or maybe ‘The Hand’ does what it wants depending on its mood – some days it helps, other days it doesn’t.

As you may have realised, the hand that Lansdale lost was his ‘illustrative’ hand so he cannot work – or at least not as a comic strip artist any more. His publisher suggests that a new young artist takes over the strip, and Lansdale acts as a creative consultant. The publisher sends over some art samples for Lansdale to inspect, but when he returns them, they have been vandalised – or more correctly covered in scribble. Lansdale didn’t do it. Who did? Uh-huh – the vengeful ‘Hand’. Now Lansdale begins to see his ‘Hand’ in his mind.

Jonathan and Anne’s marriage disintegrates and Jonathan takes a job as a teacher at a small university in another town. Meanwhile Anne has moved on too, and is seeing her yoga instructor. Jonathan isn’t happy about this because he wants to keep the family together. Having said that, even though he wants his wife to remain chaste and come back to him, in the interim this doesn’t stop him from starting an affair with one of his students, Stella (Annie McEnroe).

All this rather contrived partner swapping in the story is simply to build up a bit of sexual tension and jealous rage from Lansdale. With these emotions in play, he can send his ‘Hand’ off to do his bidding for him. Or so he thinks. He senses what it is doing and thinks he is controlling it. Earlier, It killed an abusive drunk who confronts Lansdale in the street (a cameo by director Oliver Stone). Later it kills a rival for Stella’s affections. And ultimately it turns on Lansdale himself.

The Hand is entertaining in its way but it is clumsy. It should be a ’shock film’. The renegade hand should be popping up all the time, in an unpredictable and gruesome fashion. But instead the film plays like a quasi psychological thriller, but all the twists are predicable and the inconsistencies become a bit annoying in the end. There is nothing new to be found here. Oliver Stone directs this film with very little flair. I know it’s one of his earlier works (it could even be his directorial debut) but there is very little style. The Hand effects are by Carlo Rambaldi and at times they are a bit clunky – the flesh doesn’t always look right, which is very noticeable when the ‘Hand’ is wrestling a real human hand.

All in all, I enjoyed watching The Hand because it is a Michael Caine film — and I am a fan. Had another actor been in the role, I don’t think I’d give this film the time of day. It’s B-grade trash, and for what is purported to be a horror film, it is not scary.

The Hand (1981)