Director: Brian De PalmaÂ Â Â Â Â Â
Screenplay: John Farris (from his novel)
Starring: Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress
Rating 15Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Running Time: 113 MinsÂ Â Â
Reviewed by Guy Adams
If thereâ€™s a novel adaptation Brian De Palma might have been best to avoid as a direct follow-up to CARRIE it was John Farrisâ€™ THE FURY. But then, De Palma never was one for common sense. Or restraint for that matter, a quality that is either a compliment or a criticism depending entirely on your feelings as to his work. Personally, I love a bit of excess and maybe THE FURY, a remarkably chilly example of De Palmaâ€™s output, would have benefited from some of it.
The movie offers up more troubled teenagers with psychic powers and adds government agencies, conspiracies and Kirk Douglas running around in boxer shorts to the mix. The result is only partially successful.
John Farris adapted his own novel into a screenplay, which is lovely for him. Though one might have wished someone had held his hand occasionally if only to avoid such horrid info-dump dialogue as Andrew Stevens informing his father that they havenâ€™t lived in America â€˜since mom died.â€™. â€˜True,â€™ nods the sagely Douglas, an action man made entirely from teeth and sun-tanned chicken skin, no doubt wondering why his son feels the need to deliver two chunks of backstory in one such cumbersome phrase. You can hear the novelist turned screenwriter clap as he realises this is an easy way of condensing character history into seconds of screen time. You can also hear the audience shift in their seats as they hope he hits upon a more refined way of managing the trick.
Douglas makes a fine lead, he always does. He has presence, charm and the sort of solid determination normally reserved for lump-hammers being presented with nails.
The problem is: it shouldnâ€™t be his story. Just as CARRIE was about the would-be prom queen, THE FURY is about Douglasâ€™s son (who hasnâ€™t lived in America since his mom died, you know) and Carrie Snodgress as an equally gifted psychic teenager. At least it should be. Because thatâ€™s where the interesting stiff lies. Unfortunately, we never really get under their skin. Andrew Stevens is mostly absent after heâ€™s introduced in the opening scene, only reappearing once heâ€™s become a thorough git who is impossible to care for. Snodgress, as Hester, almost saves the day as a girl coming to grips with her abilities, though we never quite manage to engage with her either as she goes from charming and carefree to weepy and reliant on Uncle Kirk to save the day. An act of faith thatâ€™s frankly misplaced.
Itâ€™s all just a bit of a mess.
For those who like the film more than me (which is probably most of you) Arrowâ€™s disc will please. The restoration, overseen by James White who also handled their excellent ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS release, is superb. You couldnâ€™t wish for a cleaner, nicer-sounding hotch-potch of a film. It also contains an excellent selection of special features: interviews with director of photography, Richard H. Kline; spinning-top, Fiona Lewis and intern Sam Irvin. The latterâ€™s short film (a tribute to De Palma) â€˜Double Negativeâ€™ is also contained on the disc. There are also archive interviews from the movieâ€™s original release.
An accomplished presentation of a disappointing movie.