From the Archives: CFF – Bloody Knuckles review

From the Archives: CFF – Bloody Knuckles review

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

“Nobody has the right not to be offended”. That’s the tagline for Bloody Knuckles, the latest in a long line of “disembodied hand with a mind of its own” movies, from writer/director, Matt O’ Mahoney. Bloody Knuckles is a Troma-esque horror comedy in which Travis, an underground comic artist, pisses off a powerful crime boss who proceeds to remove Travis’ drawing hand as punishment. Travis reacts by gunning for rock bottom, drinking his pain away and receding into the lifestyle of an angry hermit … until his newly single hand comes back from the dead and begins to get involved in his affairs.

To call it obtusely Troma-esque is a bit unfair, I guess. Whereas both Bloody Knuckles and a large portion of Troma’s work are wonderful showcases for gore effects, crass humor, and the waving of an anti-censorship flag, Bloody Knuckles is a bit more focused with its message (and its production values are markedly higher), and in the midst of a national conversation on censorship (launched by The Interview, the Sony Hack, Charlie Hebdo, etc), very relevant. Travis creates his comics with pointed abandon citing that if the most effed-up speech is protected and free, then the freedoms of normal folk are almost assuredly intact.

While there are a hundred different ways to depict a sentient hand on screen, one would assume that without a large budget, a filmmaker is limited to the most schlocky methods. In the case of Bloody Knuckles, there is a solid mix of both practical and CG methods being employed to bring the hand to life. There are as many instances of an off-screen actor reaching into frame as there are full-on CG sequences of the hand “running” around and wreaking general havoc. All are effective and none appear cheap which, given the film’s meager budget, is a huge hurdle to clear.

What makes Bloody Knuckles distinctly different than all other films of the “killer hand” variety is that in this case, the hand is not an adversary of its former body, but rather a friend, and moreover, a voice of reason (to an extent). By tweaking this general conceit the film feels fresh while still offering up the same fun as Idle Hands, Evil Dead 2, et cetera.


Bloody Knuckles satisfies almost every entry on my subconscious genre film check list:

– Gruesome head crushing? Check.

– A beverage which causes the drinker to melt into colorful goo? Check.

– a BDSM superhero unleashing a “tornado of rage” upon all of those responsible for his boyfriend’s beheading? Check.

This is the type of movie best enjoyed in a packed theater with fellow gore hounds and horror junkies. And if you’re the type of lame-o to be offended by this kind of thing, that’s fine, but WE’RE WATCHING IT ANYWAY!

Bloody Knuckles has its Philadelphia premiere on Wednesday April 22 as part of the Cinedelphia Film Festival. Event info and tickets here.

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