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Peter’s Retro Movie Review: The Fury (1978)

The Fury Movie Posterby Peter Nielsen

From 1981 to 1992 we had a movie magazine called ”Scandinavian Film & Video” here in Sweden. Unfortunately it deteriorated into a crappy magazine during the last 2-3 years, but in the mid 80’s it was our bible when it came to movies!

I’ve talked before about the movie censorship we had here in Sweden. Many movies were mercilessly trimmed down and some were even out right banned. Let me give you an example of one movie that got badly butchered: Commando from 1985, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yeah, the censors didn’t like that one at all and promptly cut it down by 15 friggin’ minutes!!!

It’s kind of hard to make sense of a movie with that much footage missing, wouldn’t you agree? Ok, so maybe Commando isn’t a movie that needs much plot in the first place, but you get my drift, right?

Anyway… the magazine “Scandinavian Film & Video” and its editor-in-chief, with the moniker SEO, were very anti-censorship and every issue had a list of newly released movies that had cuts, both the length of the cut and also what the cut was! That was, of course, vital information for us movie-geeks. Some issues even had short “photo-novella” adaptations of cut and banned movies.

More lemonade, son?

More lemonade, son?

And yes… I know that you’re probably thinking: “Photo-novellas? What the hell is he on about?” Well, I don’t know how else to describe it! There were photos from the movie and the text gave away everything about it. That’s right! No subtlety here, folks! There were spoilers aplenty!

Some of the movies they ran like this were Night of the Creeps, Ms. 45, Death Weekend and The Fury. There were more, but these are some of the titles I remember at the top of my head. And the fact that The Fury was one of them is rather fitting, since (surprise, surprise) it’s the movie I’ve chosen for this week. It was directed by Brian De Palma and the last De Palma flick I wrote about here, was Body Double, so it’s been a while.

In The Fury, Peter Sandza is on vacation with his son Robin and good friend Ben Childress, when all of a sudden the place they’re staying at is attacked by what seems to be terrorists. Both Peter and Ben work for some un-named government agency, so it’s not too implausible that they could be targets. There is, however, foul play involved! Childress has sold his old friend out so he can get to his son.

I'm the bad guy, see? That's why I have the black suit, see?

I’m the bad guy, see? That’s why I have the black suit, see?

Robin has some sort of psychic ability that Childress wants to explore further. The last Robin sees of his father, before being whisked away is him heading towards the terrorists in a small rubber-boat, when it suddenly explodes and he now believes his father to be dead. Peter Sandza is not dead though, and swims ashore just in time to see Childress talk to one of the attackers. To say Peter is royally pissed off would actually be a huge understatement. He grabs hold of one of the dead terrorists machine-guns and fires at Childress…

Peter and Robin are played by Kirk Douglas (The War Wagon, Spartacus) and Andrew Stevens (the TV-movie The Bastard for instance). The deceitful Ben Childress is portrayed by John Cassavetes (Rosemary’s Baby, The Incubus).

Fast-forward to about a year later and we’re introduced to Gillian, played by the gorgeous Amy Irving (Carrie, Crossing Delancey). She’s a young girl who also has a very strong psychic ability. She finds out about this by accident and doesn’t really know how to handle it. This is where the clinic, run by Dr. Jim McKeever, comes in. The doctor is played by Charles Durning (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Tough Guys, and Sharky’s Machine).

Gillian is going to stay at the clinic and learn how to understand and use her abilities without being frightened by them. And since she has a tendency to make people bleed, she also needs to learn how to control herself. Dr. McKeever is a nice enough man, but is unfortunately in cahoots with Childress and this clinic is incidentally also where Robin was taken after he was kidnapped. He’s not here anymore though, but Gillian starts seeing him in visions and soon forms some sort of psychic bond with him.

Amy using her psychic powers.

Amy using her psychic powers.

Robin is kept at another facility where he is experimented upon almost to the brink of insanity. That and the fact that he’s very powerful and knows he is, makes him a very dangerous individual. A megalomaniac acting like a spoiled child, who could actually kill you with his mind! Yeah, better keep him in a good mood, wouldn’t you agree?

Peter, who’s still looking for his son, finds out about Gillian and wants her help with finding him, but since there’s no way they’re just going to let her go at this point, he needs to break her out. His girlfriend, Hester, played by Carrie Snodgress (Pale Rider, Murphy’s Law) just so happens to be working at the same clinic. Coincidence? No, not really, but he does have genuine feelings for her though. She’s Gillian’s mentor, so to speak. She helps with a break-out that doesn’t go exactly like planned, but with Gillian out, they can finally go find Robin.

I hadn’t watched The Fury in a very long time, so I was very much looking forward to re-watching it. Mr. De Palma is very much influenced by Sir Alfred Hitchcock and as such uses the same kind of slow build-up as he does, in many of his movies. Some viewers of today might find that boring, but I find that you get to know the characters a little better and, more importantly, the tension is slowly building up to the point where it’s almost tangible.

We all float down here, Georgie...

We all float down here, Georgie…

Now, I’m not saying that The Fury is a masterpiece in any way, but I think it’s a dark and taut little horror/thriller that sets out to do exactly what it’s supposed to. And yes, I would call it “horror”, because it definitely has some horrific and creepy scenes.

(Oh, and keep an eye out for Darryl Hannah and Dennis Franz in two very small roles.)

I’ll end this review just as I started it, with “Scandinavian Film & Video”. I actually talked to the editor-in-chief SEO (Sven-Erik Olsson) on the phone a couple of years back. We had a little talk about how I felt about the magazine and why he left it and what an honor it was to finally get to chat with him. He was, after all, responsible for one of the most prolific movie magazines here in Sweden.

In the USA you had “Famous Monsters of Filmland”, “Fangoria” and “Cinefantastique” to name a few. In Sweden we had “Scandinavian Film & Video”!

Until next time, my friends… the comments section is all yours!


About Peter Nielsen

Peter was born in Denmark in 1968, but moved to Sweden at the age of six, (not by himself of course), and has lived there ever since. He’s married and has five children, so spare time is somewhat of a luxury. His main interests in life, apart from his family, are long walks, books and movies. Any movie! He has preferences, but he’s not particular as long as it's good or... so bad it's good... he just LOVES MOVIES!