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Case Number 01360

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The Fury

Fox // 1978 // 120 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 31st, 2001

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our review of The Fury (Blu-ray), published April 8th, 2013, is also available.

The Charge

"You have a talent that would shock the hell out of people. But it's also a talent that can be put to good use."—Peter (Kirk Douglas), The Fury

Opening Statement

You're not going to hear me sing the praises of Brian De Palma. The guy still makes big budget movies, so he must have some sort of fan base out there. De Palma is the man behind such trash as Bonfire of the Vanities, Mission: Impossible and the capper of that heap, Mission To Mars. Before he put his paw prints all over those, De Palma directed the first Stephen King adaptation, Carrie in 1976. Apparently pegged as a grade-A horror director after Carrie's success, De Palma went on to direct the Kirk Douglas horror/thriller The Fury in 1978. Also starring Carrie holdover Amy Irving, John Cassavetes (The Incubus), Charles Durning (Tootsie) and late-night Cinemax vet Andrew Stevens (Body Chemistry 1, 2, 3, 4…), The Fury explodes onto DVD care of Fox Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

While vacationing in the Middle East, government agent Peter (Douglas) and his psychokinetic son Robin (Stevens) are attacked by Iranian terrorists. Peter just barely escapes the attack, while Peter's supposed friend Childress (Cassavetes), also a government agent, whisks Robin away.

After the attack, the government kidnaps Robin for testing on his kinetic "powers." Peter is able to dodge the government muscle and plans on finding Robin, no matter what the cost. However, he needs help. Discovering that there is another person out there with the same powers as his son, Peter thinks that this may be his answer. Enter Gillian (Irving), a cute teenage girl with the same psychic abilities as Robin. These powers include (but are not limited to) seeing into the past and present, dismantling machinery with the mind, and making people bleed profusely. Gillian has been sent to stay with a doctor (Durning) who specializes in kinetic mind powers. There Gillian and her mother hope to better understand the teenage girl's unique and potentially dangerous powers.

Lucky for Peter, he knows Hester (Carrie Snodgrass, The Forsaken), a co-worker at the same place Gillian is staying. With Hester's assistance, Peter is convinced he can use Gillian's help in tacking down his lost son…before it's too late!

The Evidence

The Fury was not an easy movie to watch. I think that I took at least eight breaks during its two-hour running time. At one point, I actually dozed off for a few moments. The Fury was that boring. I think it's safe to say I expected a lot more out of this movie.

Now, I realize that there are people out there who like Brian De Palma. Many of his movies (The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible) have gone on to become blockbuster hits. Some of them even have redeeming qualities and artistic flare (The Untouchables). Many of them don't (uh…everything else). After seeing De Palma's Mission To Mars in 2000, I walked out officially declaring it the worst film of the year. I felt only a tad more sympathetic when I saw Mission: Impossible, which I also thought was a garbled and confusing mess. Needless to say, I am not much of a De Palma fan.

So, it was with trepidation that I popped in The Fury into my player. Aside of Carrie (which I thought was only so-so at best), I'd never seen any other horror film by De Palma. And The Fury is supposedly a horror film, as it states right on the DVD case "In Brian De Palma's terrifying horror-thriller…"

Well, someone's lying to someone, 'cause I ain't buyin' that The Fury is a horror film. A horror movie should include one of three things: 1.) Some kind of deformed monster that drools a lot, 2.) Scenes that are scary, terrifying or at least atmospheric, or 3.) John Travolta as an alien in a movie adaptation of an L Ron Hubbard novel. The Fury includes none of these elements. Yes, The Fury has some bloodshed. However, that in and of itself does not make a horror film. Maybe it's the age, maybe the time period, but at no point during The Fury was I ever scared or slightly tense. Many of the effects were cheap looking (Oh look! A fake hand with blood coming out of the nails!). Even the "action" scenes lacked any real excitement.

Before I continue, I'd like to point out that The Fury does have one thing going for it: Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas. Even in the most shoddy of films (re: The Fury), Douglas is able to bring a spark of quality to the bland proceedings. Though Douglas's style of acting can sometimes be a bit over the top, he is still a very enjoyable performer to watch. Other standouts in this cast include Charles Durning, John Cassavetes as the calculating Childress, and Amy Irving (the only actress who can make psychotic staring look sexy).

The Fury is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Fittingly, the image quality was less than stellar. There were many moments in the The Fury where certain scenes looked great, and others looked out of focus and grainy. My assumption is that this is due to the print, not the transfer. Either way, it's intrusive to the viewing. Colors were usually sharp, though because of the image troubles they sometimes came off as bleeding. Fox usually does a good job with most of their transfers, but this time they've come up snake eyes (hey look, another crappy De Palma movie…).

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 4.0, as well as 2.0 Surround (English) and 1.0 Mono (French). The 4.0 mix is fine, though nothing impressive. Speakers were utilized but not that often (as much of The Fury is based in dramatic dialogue scenes). Fidelity was strong with little to no distortion present. Dialogue, effects, and music were all equally mixed, though there were a few spots where I struggled to hear Amy Irving's lines. Also included are Spanish and English subtitles.

Apparently The Fury wasn't that big of a hit, as Fox has seen fit to include only a "still gallery" as the major supplement. This included some production photographs, national and international lobby cards, et cetera. Also included is an anamorphic theatrical trailer for The Fury, as well as bonus trailers for Alien, The Fly, The Fly 1986 remake, The Omen and Lake Placid.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Okay, back to the dirty work.

The Fury's story is told with all the excitement of moldy bread. De Palma's biggest problem is that he indulges in way too many of his scenes. A great example is when Gillian escapes from the doctor's office. Running across the street into oncoming traffic, guns blazing and Kirk Douglas chasing after her, this entire scene is done in silent slow motion, save for John Williams's (Star Wars, Raiders of the Los Ark) operatic score. I could have registered for and passed an entire college course in the time it took for this scene to end. This sort of action happens numerous times during The Fury, ultimately alienating the viewer (or at least ME) from the story. De Palma could take a lesson in quick editing; most scenes tend to drag on and on. At one point, I caught myself audibly moaning "get ON with it." This is not a good sign, especially since it was during the first ten minutes of the movie.

The Fury also suffers from a very weak script. Potential for any real tension is absent because the character's abilities are never fully realized. Both Robin and Gillian have these awesome powers, yet all we see them do is make a few people bleed and see into the past. What fun is that? David Cronenberg's Scanners made much better use of the mind's power, and with more engaging results. The script also assumes that if it throws out enough psychobabble at the audience they'll buy into anything it's selling. We don't, and The Fury ends up being a very long two hours.

Closing Statement

I just can't give The Fury good marks. Though it's peppered with some nice performances, acting alone does not save a movie. Maybe someday director Brian De Palma will come up with a really good movie that successfully entertains. Until then, we're forced to trudge through messes like The Fury. Fox has done only a mediocre job on this title (iffy video, decent audio, poor extra features), and for the price of around 20 bucks I just can't recommend this title, unless you're hitting the rental shelves.

The Verdict

Brian De Palma guilty of making an very bland horror film. Fox is slapped with a fine for shoddy work on this disc.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 71
Audio: 78
Extras: 45
Acting: 79
Story: 66
Judgment: 61

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Six Theatrical Trailers
• Stills Gallery


• IMDb

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