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The Fury, 1978 – Movie Review – 31 Days of Horror

Posted by LiveFor on October 10, 2009

furyDirector: Brian De Palma
Starring: Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, Amy Irving, Fiona Lewis, Andrew Stevens

Thanks to Black Hole DVD for this cool review for my 31 Days of Horror.

Send me your horror film reviews.

Thirty-three years on, Carrie (1976) is a staple of Halloween horror marathons, but the director’s next film continued with the theme of teenage killer telekinetics and could even be viewed as a sequel. What if Carrie White passed on her powers? I’d go as far as to say that it was even hinted at the end of the film, mirrored by a similar scene at the end of The Fury. The link is actress Amy Irving who played Sue, Carrie’s best friend. What if she moved town and changed her name…

Amy plays Gillian, now facing schoolgirl bullies of her own. But what Carrie did with objects, The Fury does with people, channelling telekinesis to manipulate blood pressure and internal organs… They also have limited telepathy, vivid flashbacks, and maybe even second sight.

A bunch of suits from the government are very interested in Gillian’s powers and have already kidnapped Robin (Andrew Stevens) whose dad (Kirk Douglas) is desperately trying to find him. While Gillian’s powers are being investigated, she discovers that she’s not alone and psychically linked to Robin. While Gillian is unaware that she’s in danger, Robin’s father is stopping at nothing to avoid arrest and rescue his son.

But these talented teenagers have to be handled carefully, for if they get stressed, watch out. The Fury can make people bleed. From the nose, the eyes, the fingers, and so on… There’s also a tense, disastrous scene when Robin gets stressed at a funfair.

Secret government agents with dark motives are now more familiar in series like Heroes. Decades ago, I thought that The Fury had been ripped off by the very similar Firestarter – with telekinesis substituted by pyrokinesis. But The Fury lead the pack of telekinetic thrillers, and for my money it was the best of the bunch, certainly far more fun than Cronenberg’s Scanners.

De Palma masterfully uses camera movement and classic slow-motion sequences backed by a rare horror score from John Williams, who provides a lush and memorable theme-heavy score. This combination is showcased in an impressive action scene (the rescue)where the dialogue and sound effects are left out, leaving just the music. The soundtrack was recently remastered on CD.

Why it wasn’t nearly as popular as Carrie, I don’t know. I was shocked that Carrie played to sold-out performances and The Fury didn’t come close. Both were fuelled by a popular novel (The Fury was written by John Farris), but perhaps Carrie was a far bigger bestseller (Stephen King’s first) and the movie’s high school hi-jinks paid off with the target audience. Both are horror films, but The Fury is also a conspiracy thriller. The stories have all the same ingredients, a little less humour, and more politics, a better cast, a higher budget and plenty more blood.

In fact, the spectacular prosthetic effects made it one of the bloodiest uncut films of the seventies, presumably due to the weaponless violence, with an unforgettable climax, attempting to top Carrie’s final moments. The effects were by Dick Smith (The Exorcist) and Rick Baker (before An American Werewolf in London). It was spectacular, early mainstream splatter. I even thought that Andrew Stevens was cast because he could make the veins in his forehead stand out!

The Fury is flattered by a cast of acting heavyweights, with Kirk Douglas (Holocaust 2000) sparring with a demonic John Cassavetes (Rosemary’s Baby). Fiona Lewis rarely played good girls (Dr Phibes Rises Again, Innerspace) and the underused Carrie Snodgress plays an old flame of Kirk Douglas. At the time I thought that Andrew Stevens (Stella Stevens’ son) as the other telepath, would surely have a more high-profile career.

Some De Palma favourites reappear: Charles Durning was also in Sisters, and William Finlay (in a bit part) had already starred in Sisters and The Phantom of the Paradise. Dennis Franz was in both Dressed To Kill and Blow Out, and appears here in one of his earliest of many, many cop roles. Keep your eyes peeled for a teenaged Daryl Hannah as one of Gillian’s school bullies.

A tight thriller, a good horror angle, unusual action scenes, creatively shot, a beautiful and haunting soundtrack… what’s not to like?

The DVD hasn’t been remastered in the UK or US since 2002 and especially needs remastering to make the many darker sequences far less grainy and foggy. Anamorphic? I guess it would be too much to ask for extras. Once again, I’d have thought the director’s many hits, and recent work (Redacted) would have ensured that his back catalogue would be better treated.

Previous 31 Days of Horror reviews: Blood Feast, Paranormal Activity, Braindead, Halloween, Friday the 13th Part 2, Martin, Fright Night, Zombieland

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