If it's Halloween, if there's a serial killer on the loose and if you
realize that you haven't seen your parents around the house for a few
days, worry. Even if you're a stoner like Anton (Devon Sawa), who
spends his time smoking pot and watching TV with his fellow wastrels and
who isn't used to getting excited about anything, now is the time to be
And if you're screenwriters like Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer who think
a movie full of old fashioned buckets of gore is still fun so long as
it's another parody like SCREAM, worry. Genres can be so run into the
ground that each one becomes more tedious than the last. IDLE HANDS,
yet another teen horror comedy, has all the old jokes you've seen
before, recycled one more time.
Let's do a horror movie check list to make sure that Hughes and Milbauer
covered all their bases. Severed head? Check. Severed hand? Check.
Sex interrupted by death? Check, check, and check. Blood splattering
the walls in every other scene? Check. Stupid parents who are quickly
eliminated? Check. Romantic female lead who never realizes that she's
in jeopardy? Check. Etc., ad nauseam.
The basic set up for this horror flick involves Anton's possessed hand
that kills and kills again. With slapstick worthy of a vaudeville
routine, we watch his good and bad hands fight. Besides saving damsels
in distress, what else does his good hand fight for? Possession of the
television remote control.
Trying its best to gross out the audience, the film runs through all of
the old horror tricks and tries a few new ones. The best -- or worst of
these depending on your point of view -- is microwaving the bad hand as
we watch its skin slowly explode, spewing blood all over the microwave.
Anton's friends, Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Jack Noseworthy), who at
that point in the story are part of the undead, see no problem in
putting a package of popcorn right on top of the residual blood. No way
are they going to clean house now that they're walking corpses.
So what will pacify Anton's evil hand? "Idle hands are the devil's
playpen," he is advised. He turns with brief success to knitting in
front of the ubiquitous television. This works until the police ask him
to drop the knitting needles. You can probably guess where the knitting
needles will end up.
The story's gore quickly becomes tiresome. Worse is the piece of advice
that Pnub offers what will undoubtedly be a heavily teen audience, the
prime market for these horror flicks. "As usual, marijuana saves
another disastrous day," he boasts in the story's conclusion after their
favorite weed enables them to gain control of the nefarious hand. Now,
there's a message more insidious than the movie's massive violence.
IDLE HANDS runs 1:40. It is rated R for massive gore, drug usage, sex,
nudity and profanity and would be acceptable only for older teenagers.
Copyright © 1999 Steve Rhodes