• Idle Hands



    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: May 5th, 2017.
    Director: Rodman Flender
    Cast: Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Elden Henson, Jessica Alba, Steve Van Wormer
    Year: 1999

    The Movie:

    There are a lot of horror comedies out there, and there are a lot of stoner comedies out there, but there aren’t too many horror stoner comedies around. There are a few, the Evil Bong series from Full Moon Entertainment is a good example, but 1999’s Idle Hands beat Band and company to the punch.

    So what’s it all about? For those who don’t remember, it’s basically ninety minutes of that scene in Evil Dead II where Ash’s hand gets possessed but with a few stoner buddies thrown in for comedic relief, a love interest, and a foxy druid priestess just because.

    The story revolves around Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa), a teenage stoner who lives with his parents (Fred Willard and Connie Ray). He doesn’t do a whole lot with his life except spend time smoking dope and watching TV, occasionally hanging out with pals Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson). He does, however, have a pretty serious crush on the girl across the street, Molly (Jessica Alba), and it’s no wonder – she’s beautiful.

    One day Anton realizes that his hand is acting strange. He can’t quite control it properly. It turns out that it’s possessed, it has a mind of his own, and his parents haven’t actually left him alone but are in fact dead and stored inside some Halloween decorations. Soon enough, Pnub’s head has been cut off and Mick’s got a bottle crammed through his forehead. Anton buries everyone, but for reasons never really explained his pals come back as zombies. The only one who seems to know what’s going on is a druid priestess named Debi LeCure (Vivica A. Fox), who teams up with local truck driving metal head Randy (Jack Noseworthy) to try and stop Anton’s possessed hand from killing again. With the bodies piling up in the area, the cops decide that Halloween is cancelled and that all the kids should simply attend one dance in the school gym. Molly wants to go with Anton, but he knows he’ll put her in danger so he chops off his hand and microwaves it – but when Pnub and Mick decide to use that microwave to cook up some burritos, they set it free and it charts a course of chaos and destruction and puts Molly dead in its sights…

    Played more for laughs than for scares, Idle Hands features some pretty fun kill scenes and murder set pieces and has the added advantage of promptly featuring a severed hand running amuck under its own power. The comedy is sometimes crass, often pretty juvenile, but now less amusing if you’re in the right frame of mind for it. Lots of sex jokes and pot humor and some good sight gags as well, while some nods to Chiller Theater and Romero’s zombie films pay homage to what would seem to have been some of director Rodman Flender’s inspiration for the film.

    The cast are enjoyable enough here. Fred Willard is amusing but under used, while Jessica Alba just has to more or less look cool and sexy. Vivica A. Fox follows suit. Seth Green and Eldon Henson provides much of the comic relief in both human and zombie form while leading man Devon Sawa delivers a genuinely impressive physical performance – once his hand is possessed, he really delivers some convincing movements to sell you on the concept.

    The movie is a bit on the dated side and definitely a product of its time – look for The Offspring appearing as the band at the school dance, for instance (though a tip of the hat to Dexter Holland for getting into the spirit of things, he’s got a great death scene here!), but the concept still works well. If some of the gags inevitably work better than others, at least the movie successfully keeps a straight face and never diverges into pandering parody the way something like the Scary Movie franchise has.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Idle Hands looks pretty damn good in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Colors are consistently impressive and very nicely reproduced and detail is vastly improved over the previous DVD release. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no issues with any noise reduction. At the same time, the source used was obviously in great shape as there are no issues with distractingly heavy grain or print damage either. No obvious compression artifacts showed up while black levels stay pretty strong. The movie looks surprisingly good in HD, and man, those colors…

    Also quite impressive is the English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, in the movie’s native English. This is a fairly active mix, particularly in the last twenty minutes or so once the action moves to the school dance. These busier scenes really make great use of the surround channels to provide all sorts of fun directional effects. None of this comes at the expense of the movie’s dialogue, which stays nice and clear throughout. No hiss or distortion of any kind was noticed and the levels are nicely balanced from start to finish. The soundtrack, made up of a variety of nineties tracks from bands like Sublime and, obviously, The Offspring, has good depth and range and clarity here as well. An optional English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included on the disc and English closed captioning is also provided.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with director Rodman Flender and cast members Seth Green and Elden Henson. The track starts off with Flender talking about the title sequence, and from there they chat about the film’s qualities, good and bad, as well as how the screenplay ‘switches gears’ into ‘bizarro comedy,’ the importance of getting cat sound effects just right, the cleanliness of Seth Green’s body, the film’s connection to Rob Halford of Judas Priest, how Flender didn’t want his cast to mug for the camera and instead play it straight, how long the makeup took for Green (“Yes, it sucked being in the makeup), the intricacies of playing a decapitated head, what was improvised on the film, how The Offspring wound up in the movie and loads more. As you’d expect, there’s a good sense of humor here but it never overshadows the story behind the making of the picture. This track is pretty fun and well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the film.

    The disc also includes a making of featurette that runs about six minutes. This is more of a vintage EPK piece than a ‘true’ making of piece but it’s got some interesting behind the scenes footage shot during the production. There’s also interviews here with Flender, Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Elden Henson, a remarkably cute Jessica Alba, Vivica A. Fox and Jack Noseworthy.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a single deleted scene, the film’s original theatrical trailer, some storyboard comparisons, animated menus and chapter selection. None of the extras on this disc are new, they were on the older DVD releases, but it’s nice to see them included here. The disc also comes packaged with some nice reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Idle Hands might be low brow and juvenile in both concept and execution but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a whole lot of good, stupid fun. It’s fast paced, funny and occasionally pretty gory and seeing it on Blu-ray is, to use that old cliché, almost like seeing it again for the first time. The domestic U.S. release that came out a few years ago was barbones – this Australian release from Umbrella contains similar (if not identical) audio and video qualities but also adds some nice extras to the mix, making it the better choice for fans of the film.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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    Alison Jane

    Mr. Mom

    Ha! Which kid? I went to school with Frederick Koehler while he was making this film. I still... Go to last post

    Alison Jane 09-23-2017 08:28 AM
    C.D. Workman

    Car Wash

    Didn't you see its British ad line? "CAR WASH, the best plotless '70s politically incorrect comedy... Go to last post

    C.D. Workman 09-21-2017 03:42 PM
    Lalala76

    Erik The Conqueror

    I was a bit disappointed with the English audio on this. In fact I had to watch this in Italian,... Go to last post

    Lalala76 09-21-2017 01:16 PM
    Mark Tolch

    Car Wash

    Wow, you are a Car Wash aficionado! Go to last post

    Mark Tolch 09-21-2017 12:15 PM
    C.D. Workman

    Erik The Conqueror

    Now, when are we going to get ESTHER AND THE KING on Blu so I can get rid of my shitty public... Go to last post

    C.D. Workman 09-21-2017 12:13 PM