Postmortem: The Fury

Screenshot 2016-02-13 23.25.49

I am mystified why Brian DePalma’s The Fury (based on the novel by John Farris) hasn’t been remade because not only would the movie benefit from a more timely interpretation (in these days of government programs we often don’t completely understand, but fear a reboot could potentially find a very receptive audience) and a more modern esthetic.

Which isn’t to imply that it’s a bad movie, only that it appears, especially visually, dated.

What I imagine is a welcome thing is that–unlike in many reboots–younger actors would actually fit the story.  In fact, based on the dialogue, I get the feeling that Andrew Stevens (Robin Sandza) and Amy Irving (Gillian Belllaver) were older than the characters in Farris’ novel and screenplay).

The movie revolves around the agents of an undisclosed government agency–in the vein of the CIA or NSA–that seeks out telepaths to use as weapons.

Loyalty apparently isn’t particularly strong among this group because Peter Sandza (Kirk Douglas) is betrayed by his best friend, Ben Childress (played by Ben Cassavettes)–which is oddly close to ‘childless,’ apropos considering what he does in the movie when he learns that his best friend’s son, Robin, has telekinetic abilities.

What’s particularly interesting about the movie is that in the third act Childress blows up in all its gory glory–three years before David Cronenberg’s groundbreaking Scanners (coincidentally I assume)–which is very similar from a story point of view.

Besides the direction by Brian DePalma, the score’s by John Williams, and if all you’ve heard of his work is from Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Fury is worth watching to hear some of his earlier work, which is tonally different from what most are accustomed to hearing from him.

I found it at times reminiscent of Elmer Bernstein’s work composing the music for Saturn 3, though perhaps not as experimental.

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The (Un)necessary Remake Dept – Tourist Trap

Tourist Trap posterDavid Schmoeller’s 1979 movie Tourist Trap is a particularly effective horror movie–particularly due to the score by Charles Band, speaking of whom doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his composing, which here is at times playful, harrowing and cinematic–that unfortunately is showing its age.

The movie revolves around a tourist attraction, Slaussens Lost Oasis, where Mr. Slaussen (Chuck Connors) owns a museum that showcases the mannikins that are the work of his brother, who’s more than little bit insane.

Slaussen tries to keep his brother hidden–in a way very similar to Hitchcock’s Psycho–but his brother refuses to stay put, preferring to escape from the house he’s held in to lure tourists to their deaths.

The premise of this movie is awesome, and doesn’t actually need that much in the way of tinkering story-wise, other than to bring the special effects more in line with modern sensibilities and technologies.

It’s also worth mentioning that, Besides Psycho, the movie also has more than a passing similarity to Brian DePalma’s Carrie, (which came out three years earlier) yet despite this it somehow manages to be not only original, but its own animal.

It goes without saying that effects need to be practical because it would work best when there’s actually something that actors are acting against (which is typically the case, though there are some instances when it CGI is perhaps a better fit, though not in this movie).

Another thing with mentioning is that what makes Tourist Trap as effective as it is is that the acting (particularly by Jocelyn Jones as Molly and Connors that elevates the material beyond many better known examples of the horror genre).

In fact, I suspect that the writers of the 2012 remake of Maniac (Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur) must have at least heard of Tourist Trap because it plays very similar, especially in its third act.

Carrie (2013) – Review

“Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie, As Far As Remaks Goes, Isn’t Terribly Necessary, Though It’s Worth Seeing Anyway.”

For the longest time I’ve avoided watching Kimberly Peirce‘s remake of Brian DePalma’s Carrie because I just didn’t see the point, especially since from what I had seen from the trailers it wasn’t saying anything that the original didn’t.

And for the most part, I was right–and also wrong.

I’ll explain what I mean.  Pierce’s remake modernizes the material in a way that you’ll never get from DePalma’s movie–for instance characters use cell phones as well as the Internet–but there’s a very good reason for that:  Cell phones didn’t exist and I suspect that Internet didn’t either, at least not in the form that we know it today.

It’s also worth mentioning that the original movie might feel almost quaint (and to be honest, a bit dated) to a contemporary audience that’s grown up in the age of touch screen phones and the wireless interlinking of devices.

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