Chew the hand that feeds: Where to find a life like edible hand?
January 24, 2011 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Let say your handcuffed to a dead person. The only way to escape is to bite your way out. Would you need to chew off the whole hand or just the thumb and some palm? Now how could I recreated this visually for film?

Are their realistic Jelly hands on the market that are filled with "blood" and "bone" that I could purchase? I really want the effect to look real.

Of course I'm on a budget too.
posted by bleucube to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Seems like you wouldn't really need to do any biting if you have a hammer or a rock handy. Just smash up the bones enough to slip the cuff off. Maybe that's not dramatic enough, but it's what I'd do. It'd be easier to film, too.
posted by echo target at 10:03 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

If it's gore you're looking for, Stephen King's novel Gerald's Game has a pretty gruesome description of how to get your hand out of a handcuff.
posted by Catseye at 10:03 AM on January 24, 2011

I might be wrong about this -- but even if I'm wrong, I'd try it before I started gnawing on a dead person. Could you potential break the dead hand well enough to slip the handcuff over? Thinking smash thumb & expanse palm -- compress -- slide. Would also (ew gross) be OK if some skin came off in the sliding of the handcuffs.

Also potentially easier to film as it would be horrifying sound effect/peeling skin rather than dismemberment.

And again, just throwing it out there but I'd also attempt to cut through the dead wrist with the handcuff before being willing to chew off anything.
posted by countrymod at 10:05 AM on January 24, 2011

I'm sorry, bleucube, but short of a super-contrived Saw situation I can't imagine any circumstances where it wouldn't be possible to crush or mangle the corpse's hand without resorting to biting it. I'd try bashing it repeatedly with my skull before I put it in my mouth.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:05 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

The only tool you have are your teeth, you are bound otherwise. Your options are to chew off your hand or the dead hand. If you don't do either you will die. You know who the dead hand belongs too if that helps. I figure most people would chew off the other persons hand especially if they were dead (and put you in this situation).
posted by bleucube at 10:06 AM on January 24, 2011

Well, just go measure: the stretch along your four finger roots is wider that your wrist, so if the handcuff is rigid, you'd have to chew off the little finger plus root as well to get it across that obstacle. I'd vote instead for trying to cut some tenons and bend the hand to a tube, unless you've got a large jar of German mustard.

(there is a scene with Jack Sparrow and handcuffs somewhere...but no jelly hand. Also: Bon appetit)
posted by Namlit at 10:07 AM on January 24, 2011

@faint of butt - your other limbs are tied up. You are handcuffed to this individual in a hug. You can maneuver one set of hand cuffs near your mouth.
posted by bleucube at 10:08 AM on January 24, 2011

So... how's that work then? My hand is handcuffed to their hand? In a hug? I think we need a more detailed description of the actual setup here, because I can't think of any way for that to actually work.
posted by valkyryn at 10:11 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are their realistic Jelly hands on the market that are filled with "blood" and "bone" that I could purchase? I really want the effect to look real.

Have you checked out production notes or commentary on 127 Hours? I heard the director on NPR discussing some of the issues with a similar problem in the movie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:11 AM on January 24, 2011

Sorry, that just doesn't work. I'd have to be trapped in something or I'd just go off and find help, throwing the dead body over my shoulder and carrying it.

If I'm trapped in something then the thing I"m trapped in has to be strong enough to hold me in. Which means it should be strong enough for me to break some bones and the the handcuff off that way.

Even if I'm all tied up, I'd find something to smash on so that I could either loosen the ropes or break enough of the other body to get out. Because, again, I've got to be in a room with some sturdy walls or something. Anything less and I could get out or someone could wander in to find me. Anything less from my captor and it just looks like everyone else is an idiot and things won't work as well.
posted by theichibun at 10:14 AM on January 24, 2011

This will totally teach me not to read askmefi during lunch but... (grossness follows)

Assuming you really want the biting off -- how about the scenario where you break the hand (nice gross bone snapping crunching) to the point at which a bone protrudes from skin. After you've broken skin with the bone, you should be able to rip away the flesh and there's no way you can chew through the bone you'd need to break something anyway to accomplish task.

And then thinking through that a bit more. Mangle hand, protruding bone, closeups of peeling off flesh near bone. Does not require actual edible hand -- only flesh like texture in actor's mouth + protruding bone. Also since this is gag worthy the tension/grossness could be accomplished more through reaction/sound rather than actual gore. Or freaky flashbacks of alive person and subtle activity involving their hands (ie, hand holding, handing person something, driving etc) and subsequent sense of re-animated dead person or reaction shots of the fingers not being gnawed falling on alive person's face.
posted by countrymod at 10:16 AM on January 24, 2011

Fold the thumb over the palm. Stand the hand up on end. Step on the hand, crushing the metacarpals laterally. Slip the cuffs off.

In other words, imagine you five pencils lined up. They are X distance in diameter. Those are your metacarpals, all lined up. Now pick up the pencils and bunch them together; they are mashed together, one pencil on top of another haphazardly. That's the crushed hand. It is now X - Y distance in diameter.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Suggestion: Do this off-screen. Filmed correctly, it might add to the effect.

(For instance, do you have any idea how many people swear they saw The Joker cut people's cheeks multiple times throughout The Dark Night?)
posted by schmod at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nobody will find you. The person who captor you just shackled himself to you and took a crap load of sleeping pills. You are completely imobile except the fact that you can reach one set of handcuffs and raise it to your mouth.
posted by bleucube at 10:25 AM on January 24, 2011

Before you go spending money on edible models of hands, I suggest you acquire some chicken thighs and legs - you know, the kind that are still attached. I won't make you eat the raw chicken, so go ahead and cook to a safe temperature and then try gnawing through the meat, tendons, and joint holding the thigh and leg together. Ordinary human teeth are not awesome at biting through larger bones, and the bits that hold the joint together are surprisingly tough, especially if you can't really use both hands to manipulate the what you're biting through.
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

@schmod I thought about that, about doing the act off camera... but at this point in the movie It really needs to be showing in one long take.
posted by bleucube at 10:27 AM on January 24, 2011

@faint of butt - your other limbs are tied up. You are handcuffed to this individual in a hug. You can maneuver one set of hand cuffs near your mouth.

Okay, so it is a super-contrived Saw scenario. Fair enough. But even so, I'm having trouble picturing it. Can you sketch us a diagram?

There are bound to be other complicating factors as well. Is there a time limit? Could the maniac return at any moment? Are we indoors or outdoors? What objects are nearby? What's the distance to the nearest wall?

Yes, I'm being over-analytical and beanplatey. I'm a horror editor; it's my job. But I like your idea, and I'm sure there's a way to construct the predicament so that the only way to escape is to chew the hand off a dead man.

First, be smart from the very beginning...
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:33 AM on January 24, 2011

@faint of butt. Lets say your lover took you to a unknown summer house in the winter time. Tied you to the bed, took a crap load of sleeping pills, handcuff himself to you in hug. Like in the movie death wish when the old guy made some wrist cuffs that linked together. Except you can reach his hand with your mouth. If you chew his hand or parts of his hand off you could untangle one arm and therefore maybe escape. If you don't your probably died due to lack of water.
posted by bleucube at 10:39 AM on January 24, 2011

Its a movie script I'm working on and hopefully filming this summer.
posted by bleucube at 10:41 AM on January 24, 2011

Shooting this in one long take is asking for production troubles. It's so unlikely that your actor can do it in one long take, much less multiple takes. I'd storyboard it from multiple angles, so that you can get the most bang for your prop buck.

Personally, I'd try to gnaw on the dead hand, so I don't run the risk of bleeding to death. Depending on the angle, the thumb is probably the place I'd start.

The more detail you show of something like this on screen, the less horrifying it becomes. See Psycho.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:44 AM on January 24, 2011

No, seriously, how does someone handcuff themselves to you in a hug and you're tied up, yet you can reach their handcuffed hands only with your mouth?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 AM on January 24, 2011

They would be chewing the dead persons hand. Not their own.

@ Brandon Blatcher. Hug yourself with your hands under your armpits. And imagine someone is spooning you from behind. Their hands are cuffed to your. You are stuck on your side. You would be able to get an arm out around your head and be able to move one set near your mouth.
posted by bleucube at 10:54 AM on January 24, 2011

I've been working with these make up artists and I've seen them make stuff like this, I know they use gelatin and the blood they use if edible as well. They're located in Orlando, but I know they travel up to Ohio fairly regularly, so it's possible you could catch them on a trip. I'm not sure if they would do mail order or not.
posted by dadici at 11:03 AM on January 24, 2011

I'd use my teeth to crush the bones in the hand until it was limp enough to slip through the cuffs. This isn't just practical, it's also from my point of view more realistic - very few people WANT to be biting into some dead person's skin and having their dead creepy fluids all over them if they can possibly avoid it. Also, chewing a bit of someone right off is really freaking hard, whereas the bones of the hand are relatively fragile and could plausibly be reduced in this way.
Another bonus to this is that you can use chicken carcasses, as mentioned above, and then go nuts with the bone-crunching sound effects (breaking celery) - that would be seriously creepy for me and more effective than fake gore.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:09 AM on January 24, 2011

The dead person is behind me, not facing me! Of course! It all makes sense now. I'm no contortionist, but I just tried simulating the situation with my own arms and a convenient USB cable to represent the corpse's arms, and I couldn't figure out how to extricate myself. Good job. It looks like I have to resort to using my teeth after all.

That said (and disregarding the emotional factor altogether), I wouldn't try to bite or gnaw straight through. Bones, even small ones, are awfully tough. I'd attack the skin instead, thinking that maybe I could strip some of the flesh away and deglove the hand so that it could be slipped, Gerald's Game-style, back out through its cuff. My captor hasn't been dead for long, so there should be some blood to help lubricate things.

Oh, and just imagine how horrifying it would be if, halfway through this disgusting process, the seeming corpse were to wake up.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:12 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, so get the dead guy's thumb in the live guy's mouth. Have the live guy jerk his head back and forth violently until you hear a SNAP, meaning the thumb bone is broken.

With the thumb still in his mouth (this way, you don't have to show all that much, just a full mouth with a 4-fingered hand sticking out of it), have the guy chew through the skin and gristle, with blood pouring out of his mouth (or something even less appealing, if blood has stopped being liquid). Eventually, have him spit out a thumb and pull at the handcuffs until the dead man's hand pulls out.

This allows you to have sound effects and drippy gore take the place of the technical feat of showing someone chewing through something that looks realistically like a hand.
posted by xingcat at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2011

If you want to see another example of digit removal to aid bracelet removal, a russian mobster gets his thumb angle grinded off early in season 8 of 24, around about episode 5.
posted by biffa at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2011

That position - arms crossed over chest and secured under armpits - is basically the straitjacket position of immobilizing. It's not inescapable, but it's the closest the person-immobilization industry has come up with...

I have a hard time seeing how the handcuff situation here gives you less clearance than a straitjacket, though. Does the dead guy also have his hands crossed over his chest and under armpits before handcuffing? If so, how did he fasten the final cuff? If not, what's to keep you from just untangling the whole thing and ending up with your hands in front of you, a cross in the 2 sets of handcuffs, and the corpse's hands in front of him, w/ the two of you ending up face to face?

If it were a SAW trap though (i.e., do this specific task or die) I'd chew through the meaty parts at the base of thumb and palm. There's a lot of flesh there that your teeth could fairly easily rip, and you don't need to get into the bone problem at all.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 11:42 AM on January 24, 2011

If you have enough mobility to lift one hand up to your mouth then you have enough mobility to use the handcuff on the dead hand as a crushing lever, using the palm of your cuffed hand to press the steel shank into their thumb bone area to break the bone rather than chewing. You could press it against your chest for stability.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:43 AM on January 24, 2011

The thumb. It prevents handcuffs from being slipped off. Focus on JUST the thumb.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2011

Thanks everyone - Looks like I just need to focus on the thumb. I think a cross between sound, "blood", and thumb chewing will get the point across.

I have the chicken idea to fall back on if needed too!

@Faint of Butt - Mind if I contact you via mefimail if I have to work out other gruesome situations?
posted by bleucube at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2011

If I have read my detective novels right, after the person died, there won't even be that much blood. Lots of smacking, likely...
posted by Namlit at 12:31 PM on January 24, 2011

I realized just now that I was unclear in my earlier comment: you don't have to use the chicken leg/thigh in the shot itself; I was thinking of it as more of a practice thing, a cheap (and tasty!) way to figure out how best to get the shot, the angle the actor(s) would have to be in in order for Live Guy to best be able to get bitey, etc. And for the sound, too.

In any case, good luck!
posted by rtha at 12:42 PM on January 24, 2011

Mind if I contact you via mefimail if I have to work out other gruesome situations?

I'm always happy to chat about this sort of thing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:58 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

OK, I'm trying this with an actual pair of handcuffs at home. First, if the cuffs are tight and below the wrist then there's no way to get them off even if you remove the thumb and all four fingers - they get caught on the end of the bones of the forearm and you'd have to crush those. If the cuffs are loose enough to slip over that obstacle, it seems like you could get them off by removing the thumb at the base, near the wrist. Check this illustration: (scroll down a little).

See the first two joints of the thumb? That's what sticks out from the hand and what we normally think of as "the thumb." Notice that biting the thumb clean off will give you no help in removing your handcuffs. You have to remove the whole thing down at the wrist.

For your movie, I think your protagonist would have to discover this for himself. He might bite the thumb off at the natural joint, try to slips the cuffs off and fail. Then he goes back for a second, bigger bite, taking the rest of the thumb, and slips the cuffs off.

Imagine the horror of bracing yourself to bite off a dead person's thumb, somehow managing that, and then realizing you have to do it again. Ugh.
posted by zanni at 2:25 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks zanni, good point. Looks like a couple.of chews are needed
posted by bleucube at 4:11 PM on January 24, 2011

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