The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - The Fury (1978) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - The Fury (1978)

Brian De Palma's other telekinetic thriller gets a UK blu-ray rlease courtesy of Arrow video.

Directed by: Brian De Palma
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Amy Irving, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, Andrew Stevens

'The Fury' is one of those films that should be more well known than it actually is. A big name Hollywood star in Kirk Douglas. An up and coming director in De Palma, fresh off of the success of Carrie and its Oscar nominations. A rich score from John Williams and a significant increase in budget and scope. Mostly known now for a spectacular death scene, this is ripe for rediscovery. Now on its 35th birthday, and newly restored, there is no better time to get reacquainted with this deeply flawed but essential piece of the De Palma oeuvre.
When Peter Sandza’s (Douglas) son Robin (Stevens) is kidnapped by Government agents because of his special powers, Peter discovers a shadowy network run by his supposed friend Ben Childress that is harnessing the abilities of a special group of telekinetic individuals for nefarious means. He vows to get his son back by any means necessary even if it means using Gillian (Irving), a young woman with a deadly ability who is being monitored by Ben’s covert agency.
'The Fury' is a strange film, and a strange choice for De Palma. It’s the type of film you can imagine getting the green light on the back of 'Carrie', with its focus on youth with telekinetic powers and being based on an existing successful horror novel from author John Farris. You would have imagined De Palma approaching a new subject rather than widening an existing one. His approach is to turn this into 'Carrie' the action film version. With a higher budget he is able to choreograph more intricate action scenes, invoke a larger sense of scale and ground his horror in the paranoid post-Watergate America of the 1970's. If De Palma has a sure hand when it comes to staging horror, he also has an acute awareness of the burgeoning fear of government interference that has been described in films such as 'The Parallax View', 'The Conversation' and 'Klute'. He also for the first time gets a big name in Douglas to star in his film as well as stalwart character actor and indie director John Cassavetes as his nemesis Childers.
There is much to love in De Palma’s work; we can see his style really starting to develop. An amazing scene in which Gillian escapes from the institute is a bravura piece of editing, fluid camerawork and wonderful choreography that puts to shame much of the frenetic smash cuts that make up the majority of today's action set pieces. Considering the resources and the weight of the equipment in the seventies makes it even more of an achievement.
The horror and action set pieces are inventive; a sequence in an indoor amusement arcade is well handled (who knew the Arabic community loved Big Wheels so much) and the special effects hold up nicely.
Narratively though the film is all over the place. Starting with an action set piece it’s all geared up for a man on a mission trying to save his son, a son with special powers that one would have thought would have been at the forefront of the films narrative, but Robin bafflingly goes missing for most of the first and second act. The workings of the institute that has kidnapped Robin are also given short shrift, other than some vague talk about using them as weapons. It has the feel of a movie trying to incorporate as much business for its star as possible (a light comedy moment involving Peter having to get a new set of clothes goes on forever with no real purpose) while also trying to fillet the dense narrative of the novel and still make sense.
It may be minor De Palma but see it for the evolving style of this most cinematic of directors, for the lush John Williams score, the amazing cinematography of Richard Kline and the explosive effects. Keep your eyes open for early appearances from Daryl Hannah and NYPD Blue stalwart Dennis Franz.


The picture quality and 4:0 DTS mix are near flawless for a film of this age. I have seen this film many times on TV and video and it is like watching the film anew.
There is also a cornucopia of extras; De Palma is noticeable by his absence but you do get cinematographer Richard Kline talking about the visual style of the film. This will give you a real appreciation of the craft involved.
Fiona Lewis talking about her early career.
A long interview with Sam Irvin and his short film, which in truth is a bit of filler but does have some anecdotes about the films reception.
We also have some archive interviews conducted by Carolyn Jackson who seems less interested in talking about the film and more excited that she managed to watch such a scary film on her own.
A solid release all round.

Jason Abbey