Windy City Horrorama Review: IDLE HANDS (1999)

To go back to the late 90s and early 2000s would be a dream in terms of being a young horror fan. While I was familiar with Freddy and Jason, the Scream franchise taught me a whole lot about what I didn’t know was out there to be seen. There was plenty of focus on teen slashers, reminiscent of the 80s, except there’s no argument that 80s kids were luckier with the sex and nudity. IDLE HANDS was in the middle of that craze and wasn’t my cup of tea at that point. I’ll admit I wasn’t educated enough in horror comedies and found the hybrid a bit off when I saw this movie on VHS. It wasn’t out long in theaters due to poor box office numbers so I had to wait for a sleepover to finally catch this.

For those unfamiliar with IDLE HANDS, we have Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Casper) as Anton, a pot smoking, lazy slob who doesn’t even realize his parents are dead until days later. One of his hands becomes possessed by a demonic force that loves to kill anyone that Anton encounters. His stoner friends get involved, but fall victim in a hilarious manner to Anton’s new entity. Then, there’s Vivica A. Fox searching for Anton as she claims to have come from a long line of demon hunters. She’s our Foxy Brown for the supernatural and fans love it.

Watching this after so many years, I’ve come to appreciate the gore gags and politically incorrect humor that’s nowhere to be found nowadays in studio projects. Sawa drops his heartthrob image and offers an unlikely hero that many probably find relatable, especially when it comes to his anxiety around his crush, played by a “before she was famous” Jessica Alba. Elden Henson and Seth Green round out the cast and it’s obvious that they’re having plenty of fun with their roles and just enjoying the absurdity.

Director Rodman Flender embraces all the craziness and keeps the blood flowing from beginning to end. Despite being primarily a comedy, the opening sequence is still scary for any young kid to see and the genre is Flender’s game to play. He was in attendance for this screening and offered plenty of insight of behind the scenes drama and why the film ultimately didn’t make an immediate impact. Another treat he had for those in attendance was never before seen footage on set, including stunts for deleted scenes. It’s easy to forget that this movie came out ten days after the Columbine shooting and became a scapegoat for conservative senators. IDLE HANDS was name dropped in high profile conferences as an example of what’s to blame for teens making horrible decisions, despite it not even being a slasher. Flender did not shy away from discussing this period in our country and that affected his film.

Still, the movie holds up really well as it has more balls than 90 percent of the comedies being shit out of Hollywood’s ass these days. IDLE HANDS is not afraid to get dirty and get the devil involved. Let’s cross our fingers for a special edition Blu-ray set because there’s a lot left to be said here.

I got to watch this at the Windy City Horrorama, a film festival that focuses on independent horror where us midwesterners get the luxury to watch the kind of movies we normally have to wait for VOD. With fellow horror fans and some special guests, it’s the kind of weekend I look forward to.

Vivica A. Fox, Seth Green, Devon Sawa, Jessica Alba, and Elden Henson in IDLE HANDS
Jovy Skol
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