I just had something of a revelation. Hands are kind of scary. They’re often used for violence in the movies and real life, but sometimes they’re just visually creepy. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. I think it all ties back into the pale green pants and the creepy cartoon shoe dream I had when I was a toddler.
I put on Full Moon’s Netherworld (1992) with the intent of letting it play in the background while I got some stuff done, but it just hooked me in with nostalgia, and yes, a creepy hand. I hadn’t watched this movie in at least a decade. Probably longer. In the early 90s when I was about ten or so, I was all about some Full Moon movies, and Netherworld was always one I had a special place in my heart for, even if I hadn’t given it the time I owed it as I got older.
Instead of accomplishing anything, I started blabbing on Twitter about the movie, about the aforementioned creepy hand, and about other creepy hands in cinema, video games, and music videos. Naturally, it occurred to me I could just make a post about this, so here we are.
Let’s look at some creepy hands.
We might as well start at the source. The hand is really only a small part of the movie, though it’s on the cover. It’s not even the creepiest part of the movie, but the whole concept (which I’m still not sure I entirely understand) just always stuck in my mind in a visual way. Even through all the years I spent without viewing the film, I would occasionally think back on that hand. Something about it grabbed me (horrible pun not really intended at first, but left in anyway). I remember making a clay model of it in an art class in school, albeit a piss poor one.
Netherworld is a really bizarre movie, and I couldn’t blame anybody for not liking it. I think nostalgia plays a major role in my own feelings about it, but it’s very unique, and there are some other visuals I’ve always found a bit eerie.
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Watching the Netherwold hand made me think about the original Legend of Zelda for NES. Remember those hands that came out of the walls occasionally in some of the labyrinths? Those are called Wall Masters, and they are motherfuckers. They take you back to the beginning of the labyrinth, which is a huge pain in the ass. I think that’s part of what made them so scary. They were a real threat. Plus, you know, they’re creepy hands.
You can see them in action at about 2:23 into the following video, though you really have to play it (with the legendary music that accompanies it) to get the full effect. It probably also helps to be eight years old.
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Speaking of labyrinths, the Jim Henson film Labyrinth has some wonderfully creepy hands itself. Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly, has to choose a door. One of them, she is told, will lead her straight to her destination. The other will lead to certain death. The door she picks turns out to lead her to neither, but does take her to a trap door, which she falls through into a pit of scary, talking, “helping” hands, which catch her and grab at her before forming various faces and talking to her in evil voices. They don’t turn out to be as big of a threat as the Fire Gang, which wants to decapitate her or the fart swamp commonly known as the “Bog of Eternal Stench,” but she does tell them they’re hurting her before they drop her into a pit where she’d rot away if her acquaintance Hoggle didn’t come along.
I confess, I never really watched The Addams Family series all that much. I’ve seen it here and there, but I always preferred the Munsters. I did watch the movies, but ultimately, I don’t really have that much to say about Thing other than I think subconsciously he was always my favorite Addams. Honestly, my brain wants to associate Thing more with the Addams NES game Fester’s Quest than anything else, but no list of creepy hands would be complete without the pet hand, would it?
Jack and Diane
You’ll probably think I’m weird, but something about the white-gloved hands in the John Cougar Mellencamp video for Jack and Diane was always unsettling to me. I think it’s because it just looks like a pair of pale hands in the middle of darkness with nobody attached to them. The song came out when I was one, and the video was played throughout the following years. I grew up in a house where MTV was pretty much always on, so I saw it a lot. For some reason my little brain just didn’t like articles of apparel (gloves, shoes, pants, you name it) that didn’t have people inside them. Of course that didn’t stop me from wanting to watch the video repeatedly.
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Pennywise the Dancing Clown
You know who else had some creepy white-gloved hands? A certain Derry-based clown monster that liked to reach said hands out of books.
The Body Politic
Like The Addams Family’s Thing, Clive Barker’s The Body Politic (part of Quicksilver Highway) simply has to be on a list of noteworthy hands. I mean the whole story is about hands. I don’t think I’ve seen this since it originally aired seventeen years ago, so as with Thing, I don’t have a lot to say about it. I do know that being chased by hands is an absolute nightmare-inducing thought.
Obviously a scene as famous as the hand scene in Evil Dead 2 has to be represented here. You know it. You love it. It’s classic slapstick. It’s really too goofy to qualify as creepy, but it is what it is – a hand.
And we’ll close with the king of the nightmare hand. You can insert your favorite Freddy glove moment here. The hand reaching up from the bathwater in the first Elm Street would be a wonderful candidate, but I’m going with Dream Warriors, and the scene in which Kirsten goes to turn on the water at her bathroom sink, only to have the knobs grab her hands. They of course turn into Freddy’s hands as he appears in the mirror. That moment where they grab her hands is just chilling. At least it was the first time I saw it.
Got a favorite hand moment?
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