Blu-ray Review: The Fury - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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There are several reasons to recommend the relatively obscure supernatural thriller The Fury, currently available as a limited edition Blu-ray from Twilight Time. The most obvious is that it was directed by Brian De Palma, his follow-up to Carrie. Both films center on telekinetic ability and both feature Amy Irving. In fact, she’s the female lead in The Fury but the film’s real star is Kirk Douglas. Even in his early 60s, the athletic Douglas zooms around like a free runner as he flees the pursuit of government agents. He’s also a horndog. The scene where he cries over the phone, “I need your body, baby” to his girlfriend Hester (Carrie Snodgress) is hysterical.

The Fury is not an art film by any means. Whatever the intent of De Palma, producer Frank Yablans, and screenwriter John Farris (who adapted his own novel) may have had, this is a muddled B-movie that never really gets its act together. However, those with a taste for campy genre-bending extravagance will find a treasure trove of minor delights. Just don’t expect clear-cut storytelling. The Fury mixes up elements of science fiction, horror, conspiracy thriller, and action for a big, fun (and ultimately incredibly dumb) mess.

Fury cover (191x250).jpgPeter Sandza (Douglas) is the proud father of Robin (Andrew Stevens), a young man with incredible psychic talents. During a staged terrorist attack on a beach in the “Mid East,” Robin is kidnapped by Peter’s friend, the double-crossing government official Ben Childress (John Cassavetes). From that explosive opening, The Fury branches off on two paths: Peter’s search for his son and Childress’s involvement with the Paragon Clinic. This organization is a sort of school for psychically gifted young adults. The Paragon’s main man, Dr. Jim McKeever (Charles Durning), oversees the training of Gillian (Irving), one of the clinic’s most promising psychics. She’s dangerous though, considering her potential to cause anyone who touches her to bleed profusely. It’s at this clinic that Robin is being held, his abilities being honed to an even more dangerous level.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. There’s way too much narrative for a two-hour movie, yet De Palma keeps it interesting with his visual style. The scenes in which Robin or Gillian has psychic visions are quite arresting in their surreal trippiness. I never cared a lick about any of these characters, and that apathy combined with the confusing plot eventually made the film a chore to sit through. But the various off-the-wall moments scattered throughout help support the more exciting visual sequences, some of which effectively utilize slow motion and other effects. Peter breaks and enters an older couple’s apartment, amiably chatting with their elderly Grandma Nuckells (Eleanor Merriam). Gillian and Carrie get a little too excited over an ice cream sundae. A group of enthusiastic sheikhs wait in line for rides at a gigantic indoor amusement park (some of whom pay the ultimate price when Robin psychically speeds up their ride). It’s a grab-bag of zaniness, culminating in a literally explosive death scene filmed from multiple angles.

Fury booklet (212x250).jpgThe Blu-ray presentation of The Fury offers an image so consistently grainy that at times it’s downright noisy. Low light situations suffer from a noticeable loss of detail and sharpness as a result. Many of the brighter scenes look good, with a warm, golden tint to the sun-drenched outdoor scenes. As long as it isn’t a night scene, the picture looks pretty decent but Richard H. Kline’s cinematography is never a pretty sight. The audio is available in either DTS-HD MA 4.0 or 2.0. Both lossless options provide clean sound. I found the dialogue a little overly prominent in the 4.0 mix (emphasizing the too-obvious ADR in many instances), while all elements blended more naturally in the 2.0 mix.

Special features are limited to Twilight Time’s customary isolated score track. This one should be particularly interesting to a wide audience since it’s the work of John Williams. There’s also a trailer and a good essay in the booklet by Julie Kirgo. The Fury is a fairly wild, somewhat experimental relic. I’ll cautiously recommend it as worth seeing, primarily for Brian De Palma and/or Kirk Douglas fans. The Blu-ray, limited to 3,000 copies, is available exclusively through Twilight Time’s distributor, Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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