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20th Century Fox presents
The Fury (1978)

Bob:"What happend to his arm?"
Peter:"I killed it, with a machine gun."

- Dennis Franz, Kurt Douglas

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: August 30, 2001

Stars: Kurt Douglas, Amy Irving, John Cassavetes
Other Stars: Charles Durning, Andrew Stevens, Carrie Snodgrass, Denniz Franz
Director: Brian DePalma

MPAA Rating: R for (contains extreme levels of violence)
Run Time: 01h:57m:48s
Release Date: September 04, 2001
UPC: 024543013877
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB-B D+

DVD Review

Gillian is not your average high school student. Lurking within the mind of this attractive, young woman is a rare psychic talent with a mysterious power capable of destroying people with a single thought. In a struggle with a close-minded, arrogant classmate, she reveals the girl's hidden secret, then unconsciously fights back when she's threatened. When the girl challenges her by grabbing Gillian's hand, her nose begins to bleed profusely. The effect is shocking to everyone, including Gillian, who just wants to live the normal life of a teenager. Unfortunately, that will never happen.

The Fury begins with Peter (Kirk Douglas)ˇa mysterious man who works for a secret agency dealing with abnormal mental skills. The most striking example of psychic ability comes from his own son Robin (Andrew Stevens), who adores his father. Sadly, they're double-crossed by Childress (John Cassavetes), a close friend. His top-secret government group has kidnapped Robin to use him for their own ends, and Peter must struggle to find clues to his existence. A chance arises with the discovery of Gillian, who possesses the same powers coveted by Childress and his evil cohorts. While she continues to discover more about her deadly skills at the Paragon Instituteˇa special facility for gifted studentsˇPeter continues to elude pursuing killers in hopes of retrieving his son.

Directed by Brian DePalma, this story provides a fascinating portrayal of the disturbing actions the government will take in the pursuit of "knowledge." While the subject matter is nothing new, the interest is heightened through its intimate look at Gillian's fate. She is able to picture the past simply by touching a person's hand, but the effect on their body is horrifying. It's an intriguing contradiction because Gillian is viewing events that are important to the story. As an audience, we want to discover more about Robin's fate, but the result of her actions is serious harm to others. The violence is especially disturbing, with blood pouring out of the victims' bodies from all areas. During the most creative (and shocking) moment, a woman uncontrollably rises into the air and screams while her blood splatters the wallpaper throughout the room. This extreme level of violence is hard to take, but it works within the atmosphere of the film. It's troubling to admit, but without these shocking moments, the young teens' abilities would be far less interesting. The events are over-the-top, but the chaotic elements actually carry the story and make it more exciting.

Much of Peter's difficulties follow the path of a generic action film, but a few enjoyable twists add some originality to his plight. During a chase through the dark city streets, he jumps into the car of two silly, off-duty cops and uses verbal force to make them help him. This type of dark comedy resembles John Carpenter more than Brian DePalma, but his style works effectively for this scene. This moment features some nice work from Dennis Franz, who utilizes just the right level of dumb enthusiasm for the part. Oddly, the deep conflict between Peter and Childress fails to generate the usual outcome. However, the ultimate twists are successful, and they lead to a surprising (and gruesome) showdown.

Throughout the production, DePalma (Carrie, The Untouchables) showcases his normal array of unique camera work and odd angles. Luckily, it succeeds this time due to a more interesting story and less emphasis on constant overdone style. Although not perfect, the execution is much better than his over-praised thrillers Blow Out and Dressed to Kill. The story may drag at a few points, but the inventive direction keeps the action moving forward. During one of Gillian's visions of Robin's treatment, the camera does a complete 360-degree pan, which creates a gritty, claustrophobic effect that often pervades this film. Also, the spatial separation allows DePalma to show several moments at one time and heighten the suspense.

When viewing The Fury, it's necessary to accept the ridiculous premise and a lack of specific details about the experimentation. John Farris penned the screenplayˇbased on his novelˇand it spends little time explaining Robin's actual use for Childress and his group. If you are willing to buy the odd plot elements, the film provides an enjoyable and nerve-wracking experience. Kirk Douglas gives a surprisingly tight performance for this genre, and Amy Irving (Carrie) brings emotional depth to her role. Cassavetes' character is a memorable villain, with his brutalized arm stuck in a dark, black sling. Childress has no emotional qualms about the work, and simply performs the terrible actions without any feelings of remorse. This morose tone pervades the entire movie, even within the moments of silliness. Each apparent victory immediately leads to a tragedy, and the result is a troubling, enjoyable ride.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Fury contains a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has mixed results in terms of picture quality. At certain points, the events are clear and impressive, and the colors mesh nicely. However, there's also a high level of grain inherent in many scenes, and this provides a distraction from the story. Also, the age of the film shows more here than on other releases from the time period, revolving mostly around the hazy picture created by the large amount of grain. The overall result is acceptable, but it falls considerably short of the top releases.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 4.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer on this disc conveys a nice sound mix that is an obvious improvement over the home video track. John Williams' suspense-building original score springs impressively from the speakers and gives the necessary extra touch to the disturbing action. The sounds are clear and powerful, but they do fall a bit short of the premier Dolby Digital transfers. The complexity of the sounds is lessened, and the rear speakers don't function as well either. However, these are minor problems, and it's still well-done and effective.

This disc also includes a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer, which resembles the other track, but lacks the depth of its counterpart.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Alien, The Fly (1986), The Fly (1958), Lake Placid, The Omen
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
Extras Review: This release is extremely light in terms of extra features. It does contain a small collection of still pictures, but they're mostly lobby cards and marketing posters. There's also the theatrical trailer, which comes in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer and does a good job in presenting the allure of the story.

Since this is a Fox release, this disc also contains a significant collection of theatrical trailers for other related films. The most interesting previews are for Alien and The Omen, two horror classics. All of the trailers come in widescreen transfers except the David Cronenberg version of The Fly, which has a mediocre full-screen picture.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Although generally not regarded as one of Brian DePalma's best films, The Fury is an underappreciated gem that should see the light of day. It's a must-see for fans of the genre and should provide an entertaining two hours of chilling entertainment for others. The story exudes a strange, disturbing tone that adds an extra level of tension to each scene. Backed by precise directing from DePalma, it provides plenty of thrills and memorable moments that won't be forgotten anytime soon.


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