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.

Extraterrestrial – Review

The last film from The Vicious Brothers (who aren’t–biologically speaking–brothers) was the send-up of found footage reality shows, Grave Encounters.  It was one of the better examples of the genre because it was able to take many of the tropes that come with it (How is it that no matter what or where something happens there’s a camera conveniently located to capture it?  How are people are able to run with a camera in their hands and still manage to maintain an image that’s not nausea-inducing?  It’s almost as if they’re working with a steady cam or something) and at least make them interesting.

As a result I went into Extraterrestrial with higher expectations than I would traditionally, and was a bit let down.  Visually, aboard the alien spaceship–the last half hour or so of the movie)–was way too indebted to better alien abduction movies, like 1993’s Fire In The Sky.

Another problem was that the aliens were particularly murderous, which seems a bit at odds with the whole studying humanity part of their mission.  And speaking of violent tendencies, there’s a scene that plays with a joke earlier in the movie about the anal probing that aliens supposedly love doing on those they abduct.

Only this time, it’s used as an implement of torture. which makes you wonder what sort of highly advanced culture would travel seemingly light-years across the galaxy, just to kill someone by drilling into their ass.  Besides, if their intent from the start was murderous, then why bother bringing them aboard their ship at all?  Especially since these aliens–while resembling those from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind–aren’t nearly as munificent.

This tonal inconsistency is particularly irritating in the last ten minutes of the movie, when it turns to The X-Files, complete with its own ‘Smoking Man.’  It’s an interesting homage, but it literally makes no sense because what would be the point of the military killing the abductees, when no one would believe them anyway?

And those that did would probably be so much on the fringe that it wouldn’t even matter.  The scene in question doesn’t ruin the movie, but the needless cynicism came pretty close.

Extraterrestrial has recently landed on Netflix.