Monday, June 13, 2011

The Fury. (1978) Brian De Palma

This film is a disaster, a far cry from the other horror/paranormal film De Palma directed only two years before, Carrie. The Fury is overstuffed with people, plots and scenes that only exist to get to other scenes, you know, the ones with the action. It's a frustrating viewing experience because it borrows from everywhere and can't settle into any groove or decide what it actually wants to be. Is it a spy film? Is it a film about ESP? Is it a comedy? Is it horror, a drama or a farce? A very rare film can be all of these at once; The Fury is not that film. I wanted to stand up and shout at it, "For crying out loud, pick a side! Any side."

Flashes of De Palma's brilliance are found in pieces lying in the wreckage. One brilliant flash in particular has main character Gillian (Amy Irving, luminous as always as she switches gears from a witness to the paranormal in Carrie to the one who is the paranormal here), tripping on the stairs - her mentor grabs her by the hand to steady her and she instantly has a premonition, gripping his hand which begins to bleed, her thoughts racing to other events that she can see due to him touching her. We see her thoughts as though she stands against a black and white screen behind her. Brilliant "premonition technique" in scenes like this and an engaging-as-always score create masterful moments in this otherwise mess of a film.

Kirk Douglas, who I raved about a few weeks ago when I saw Paths of Glory, is the spy that lost his son, but he looks lost, and he's miserable to watch in a script that goes all over the place and loses itself in its maze. It was interesting to see him at the age he was here, though, and compare him to his son these days. In my head, I kept thinking I was seeing Michael.

It was nice to see Chicago in the seventies, though, and there was at least one very funny line: "I told you we should have moved to Melrose Park."

But really. What an awful mess of a film. All the depth I found in Carrie is not found here. And whereas Carrie had a bombastic, gut-wrenching ending, I had a hard time making it to the end of this cluttered wreck.

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