Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Movies I Stayed Up Late For: The Fury

As a kid without cable there were quite a few movies of the week, and they were what we had.

These were the limits of our lives.

Quite often, the CBS Saturday Night movie, capper of the weekend, kept me up at night because I couldn't wait to see what the hell happened next....

I have pontificated on many of these celluloid diversions right here on my very own corner of the internet.

There's one that I still have tons of rock solid memories of seeing some 30 years ago.

Let's discuss early Brian DePalma. And "The Fury".

He made the incredibly faithful Stephen King adaption, "Carrie" two years prior, and seemed the man for the job here.  I remember this movie blowing my doors off in the very early 80's when it was being run on over-the-air TV, and the lovely Frani and I sat down to take it in off of the DVR just the other evening.

Well, it's a bit uneven.  There's a story to be told here, make no mistake, as a very young Amy Irving and Andrew Stevens are two teens with powerful telekinetic abilities that The Gubmint (led by a greasy Mr. Rosemary's Baby, John Cassavetes) wants to possess and make more dominant.

Kirk Douglas, looking svelte and strong for his age, is the lead as Stevens' father and I get the feeling the studio liked that he was in it. Unfortunately you can really feel that fact, as his character is on screen almost constantly for the first hour, on the hunt from the second scene on to find Stevens and that becomes the onus of the film.  The scenes with Douglas, many that do not accomplish much when factoring in screen time, suck running length from what should have been more exposition into the potentially interesting link between Irving and Stevens, as well as what was being done by the shady Goverment Agency to the latter kiddo.  Instead there's overextended comic exchanges between Douglas and Gordon Jump's family and a pair of cops, one of which is a young and somehow still-coiffed Dennis Franz.

The action and visual effects, on the other hand, are top notch.  A young Rick Baker did the FX, and DePalma was not suffering from a lack of need to create slow-motion set pieces either, as there are a few.  The closing moments are pretty slick, and put the money shot from David Cronenberg's "Scanners" (which came later, and is much more ballyhooed now) to shame.  Cronenberg's film told a better story, and that's why it's deservedly more fondly remembered, but it shouldn't be forgotten that this little pic here tread the ground first.   That said,  Michael Ironside is intimidating as the heavy in "Scanners", while you just feel like slapping Cassavetes with a brick and telling him to shut up in this one.

Overall, it wasn't as good as I remember it, but it still elicits fond memories of the living room floor, that old Sylvania console model TV, and the Late Movie.  It's neat to see "then unknowns" like Franz and Daryl Hannah, Kirk Douglas being Kirk, some nicely done DePalma camera tricks, and to remember when Andrew Stevens was gonna be "big".