For the second week of my 13 Weeks of Halloween series I revisited an unconventional seasonal flick that I’d nearly forgotten about in the 10+ years since I last saw it. I remember loving Idle Hands for it’s Rock and Roll attitude (and soundtrack) and gross-out shtick, so I was tentative about revisiting it. I was fully prepared to have my youthful memories soiled (how many times have you asked yourself, “I liked THIS?! What the hell was wrong with me?”) but was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up, including all of those over-the-top gags and gross-out humor.
Predating many modern horror/comedy “classics”, Idle Hands was more than a goofy spoof (unlike Scary Movie, released the following year) and more akin to the self-aware horror comedies to follow, having much more in common with Saun of the Dead than the former franchise. In broad terms it is like Evil Dead 2 and Carrie had a baby, with a little bit of Creepshow thrown in for good measure. It’s garish 90’s color pallet making it look like a colorful comic book, probably explaining why they were able to get away with so much in a big studio film, something remarkable in today’s world of over-analyzing the relative term “obscene.”
Given the quick-witted script (and even quicker-witted Seth Green) Idle Hand’s ghoulish gags and Halloween aesthetic are really just icing on the cake but damn if they didn’t do it right! Wall to wall Jack-O-Lanterns, decorations, costumes plus much of the filming occurred in the same neighborhood as the original Halloween (1978.) Not to mention one of the greatest “Halloween party gone awry” sequences of all time, though I’ll admit they get bonus points for The Offspring’s performance and the scalping of lead singer Dexter Holland.
The fresh faced cast, including Devon Sawa and relative unknowns Seth Green and Jessica Alba, seemed to have a so much fun making this one that it really shows onscreen, reminding us not to take the stereotypical under-sexed teens too seriously. Even Vivica A. Fox’s Vanhelsing-esque hand hunter is a lighthearted caricature of a horror archetype. Bonus trivia, the titular hand was portrayed by magician Christopher Hart, who played “Thing” in The Addams Family films!
This movie is so much fun that I’m glad it has found it’s way into rotation amongst my seasonal favorites. Check back next Monday as I dig into a new flick and don’t forget to leave your favorite/obscure Halloween movie in the comments and it may just make my list!
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