FTP: Bloody Knuckles (2014)

AUGUST 21, 2023


I must apologize to Bloody Knuckles, for I recently dubbed 11.22.63 as the oldest disc in the pile but according to Amazon, this film hit disc nearly a year before that. Now it’s possible I got it through trivia or something, but it’s from Artsploitation, and I was definitely on their list for a while (and to the best of my knowledge, they don’t donate anything to our monthly trivia game), so it’s a safe bet that it’s been there for a whopping eight years now, just waiting to catch my eye. But that’s the thing – the spine is so minimalist I literally never noticed it! I’ve obviously spent a lot of time looking at these discs over the past few years (since I became hellbent on finally watching them all – I’m down to the last 20 or so!) and I can’t even really see the title on the spine, so I have apparently just glossed right past it every time I went hunting for something to watch.

I mean, the runtime is under 90 minutes – SURELY I would have gravitated toward it by now as long runtimes are the very things that prevent me from ever pulling out certain titles (anything over two hours might as well punch me in the junk while they’re at it, since they’re obviously not trying to appeal to my interests). Plus it’s a Canadian horror comedy, which tend to be hit or miss but when they DO hit I find them pretty enjoyable one time watches, which again is an ideal “pile” movie: something I like watching but not so much that I want to keep it in the permanent collection. So the lesson here is to design spines that are just as attractive as the covers, because for space-starved folks like myself, the spines may be all we ever see.

Anyway it’s a pretty breezy movie about an indie comic book artist named Travis who has recently put out an issue that mocks the local crime lord, Mr. Fong. Fong doesn’t find it very amusing, as you might expect, so he cuts Travis’ hand off to teach him a lesson (and, yes, prevent him from making any more comics). Travis becomes depressed and starts drinking the day away, but one day wakes up to see his disembodied hand back in his room, moving around on its own and even communicating with him via a type-to-speech program on his computer. And then the hand starts going about taking revenge on Fong and his men, paving the way for a showdown where Travis and his hand must literally/figuratively come together and take down the bad guy.

Yes, it’s pretty dumb, but there’s an odd charm to the whole affair, due in part to how little the sight of a disembodied hand scampering around like Thing seems to bother anyone. Travis treats it as an annoyance and everyone else just kind of goes with it, which makes it funnier. Never like, falling out of your seat laughing-level funny, but (to use the word again) a breezy kind of funny; I found myself smiling through most of it, not to mention impressed with the hand effects on what was clearly not a big budgeted movie. There’s a lot of random humor (I like that the bad guys’ response to stealing a purse is to go to the movies with the cash), plus a surprisingly timely gag where a couple who is into S&M sex play has “Giuliani” as their safe word. This was 2014, pre-Trump stuff and here I am watching it just days after the dummy got a mug shot for his crimes. That’s just gold right there.

The only issue I had was that it’s a horror comedy with some unpleasant moments, which throws the tone off. Several of Travis’ pals are brutally killed in the film, and it seemed excessive and unnecessary for this kind of movie. It’s hard not to think about Idle Hands, and the way they handled his pals’ deaths in that movie worked for its slacker tone, but here the deaths – in particular a throat slashing – seem more in line with French extreme fare from the 00s. Maybe they just wanted to show off their FX work or something, but it really kinda bummed me out in what was otherwise a “hangout” kind of genre film. Because when you have brutal deaths of nice people in this sort of thing, it feels like you’re supposed to be taking everything seriously, which is a problem for a movie about a disembodied hand running around and occasionally flipping people off. To be fair there is some South Park-ian “let’s offend everyone” type humor at times (the movie starts off with a mentally disabled man melting and ends with a gag about a Nazi dildo, so…), but the deaths aren’t played for laughs, so it doesn’t quite fit the vibe.

Director Matt O’Mahoney offers a commentary, though it seems somewhat edited at times, as more than one stretch of silence made me wonder if I had accidentally toggled it off, and he checks out before the movie even ends. That said it’s a decent enough track; I was happy he acknowledged the Street Trash vibes of the opening, and he tells a story about an actor who bowed out of the movie at the 11th hour because he inexplicably decided to ask his church group for permission to act in it (!) and they unsurprisingly said no. He also gets a little bit more into the film’s underlying message of freedom of speech and artists’ rights, something I wish was a little more prominent in the movie, but at least he’s on the right side of such things so that’s fine. He also pops up in a series of interviews with various outlets, including a trip to DiabolikDVD, which is like the Criterion Closet for folks who like movies where peoples’ heads get cut off on the regular. There are also some short films and deleted scenes, so it’s a decent package but could have used some insight from O’Mahoney’s collaborators, in particular Krista Magnusson who played the hand.

O’Mahoney has made several shorts, so it’s not too shocking the film has some pacing issues that seemed like they were solved by just adding in other things at random, but it kind of fits the weird vibe so it’s easier to forgive than in some other “short filmmaker tries something longer” debuts. Another pile movie, Motivational Growth, had similar issues while targeting the same kind of audience, and they were both made around the same time – must have been something in the air around then, i.e. something I appreciate and mostly enjoy if not outright love. I find myself gravitating more toward offbeat stuff lately while getting less and less interested in traditional fare like Last Voyage of the Demeter, so I hope there are more in this vein coming along (I was disheartened to see O’Mahoney hasn’t made anything since, short or not), and also that they end up in my ever shrinking pile!

What say you?


Post a Comment

Movie & TV Show Preview Widget