Monday, May 28, 2018

The Fury (1978)

Except for John Cassavetes exploding into a million gooey pieces, the highlight of THE FURY is Jim Belushi, working as an extra in a scene filmed along Chicago’s North Shore, wandering back and forth past the camera like a clever struggling actor trying to get some extra camera time. Silly pranks aside, THE FURY is a ridiculous but exciting supernatural thriller that glosses over its story inconsistencies (John Farris adapted his own 1976 novel) with camera pyrotechnics and slick Rick Baker makeup effects.

Cassavetes (FACES) plays an evil spy in charge of a government agency that kidnaps Americans with telekinetic powers to use as weapons against foreign powers. One of Cassavetes’ victims, teenage Andrew Stevens (10 TO MIDNIGHT), is the son of good spy Kirk Douglas (SPARTACUS), who wants him back. Director Brian DePalma’s follow-up to CARRIE carries some of the same themes, including a girls’ school where the students — including Hilary Thompson (NIGHTHAWKS), Melody Scott-Thomas (THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS), and Daryl Hannah (BLADE RUNNER) — torment a classmate (Amy Irving) with latent psychic powers.

THE FURY also shares with CARRIE, unfortunately, a penchant for lame lowbrow humor, including Dennis Franz (NYPD BLUE) as a dumb cop obsessed with his new car and Gordon Jump (WKRP IN CINCINNATI) as the king of a ratty castle forced to give up his clothes to Douglas at gunpoint. Charles Durning (SHARKY’S MACHINE) and Carol Rossen (THE STEPFORD WIVES) play the directors of a special school for psychics that may or may not be a recruitment station for Cassavetes’ sinister agency.

As you may guess, the plot meanders between Irving’s new teachings and Douglas’ vengeful rescue mission with Douglas’ gal pal Carrie Snodgress (MURPHY’S LAW) as the connecting tissue. One memorable moment of mayhem is set at the defunct Old Chicago amusement park, which operated a mere five years, but is captured on film forever. John Williams (STAR WARS) delivers an expensive score that gives the outlandish plot a needed boost of credibility. While THE FURY would have benefitted by beefing up the sneering Cassavetes’ role, Douglas’ special brand of ham takes up the slack.

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