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Mike Review: The Fury (1978)


★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Brian De Palma

It looks like a horror film. It acts like a horror film. It’s directed by cinema great and heir to the Hitchcock throne. Its promotional materials portend horror is just around the corner. But don’t be fooled, this super-star-packed 1970s telekinetic hype machine is nothing but a boring and unnecessarily long after-school special. 

Directed by the great Brian DePalma, who in my estimation, doesn’t get enough horror credit and is probably more Hitchcock than Hitchcock ever was — the Fury is dullsville. Sure, there’s flourishes of DePalma’s greatness, but this film, possibly his worst, feels incredibly forced and very un-De Palma. It’s almost as if they brought him in to construct two or three scenes then handed over the entire drab affair to a second unit director. 

The Fury follows a very young-ish (61) Kirk Douglas as a former spook who’s out to find his telekinetic son (who subsequently looks nothing like him) who has been abducted by a very jingoistic Al Qaed-lite. Douglas’ nemesis played by the great John Cassavetes in the most ho-hum way possible, has pulled out all the stops to make sure he’s able to keep these supernatural powers all for himself. 

The Fury, deeply cashing in on the 1970’s equal obsession with and fear of clairvoyance, has not one, but two psychic weirdos. Eventually, if not a little unclear, Douglas comes in contact with a young teen, Gillian (Amy Irving, Carrie and Unsane), who’s attending a prep school for psychic weirdos. Gillian is able to see things, but not without hurting both herself and those she’s come in to contact with. 

Fangoria! Woo!
This can’t be good.

Along the way Douglas runs in to Dennis Franz, Daryl Hannah, Charles Durning, and even Laura Innes (ER). Seriously this film is crammed-packed with acting greats. Sadly, there seems to be an inverse proportion between the number of acting greats and the ability of DePalma to wrestle these talents to the ground. 

Douglas’ son Robin (Andrew Stevens, The Terror Within and the Terror Within II) eventually gets fed up with Al Qaed-lite and John Cassavetes and their controlling and domineering ways and decides to take his own personal fury in to his own hands. Robin is one pissed off teen whose fury is let loose on everyone and everything. Does Kirk Douglas get back in touch with Robin? Is there a a chance for a love-story with Robin and Gillian? Does Al Qaeda-lite and Cassvetes get their comeuppance? The answer to this question is a resolute…who cares.

De Palma creates a flat, uninteresting, and weirdly un-suspenseful atmosphere through out the film. There’s very little tension and he’s concocted characters that are unconnected from each other and deeply unsatisfying. If you’re after some 1970s telekinetic nostalgia — look elsewhere. This ain’t it. 

It’s unclear what was going on with De Palma in the creation of this film.  Frustratingly, the Fury was packed in between some all-time classics — Carrie, Blowout, and Dressed to Kill.  De Palma was obviously the hotness in 1978, but maybe, just maybe, he just had too much on his plate to be able to tell a compelling and frightening horror tale.  His impact on cinema has never been replicated and will be felt for many years to come. Unfortunately, the Fury may very well be parked at the bottom of his film accolades. 

The Fury is (inexplicably) Rated R and is streaming everywhere. 

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