Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Fury (1978, Brian De Palma)


All hail Kirk Douglas, one of the finest actors of his time. Brian De Palma, fresh off of making Carrie decided to craft his own film about kids with psychic powers, giving birth to a film that is equal parts horror, science fiction, action, thriller and drama. Some elements don’t quite work, yet what does results is a great and exciting movie that always manages to be entertaining while also featuring one hell of a last act. I love how De Palma’s movies seem to be campy and yet work regardless, as he is a talented director capable of executing his visions through his films.

It doesn’t hurt that this film has a great cast, with Douglas facing off against  John Cassavetes while trying to save his son, played in creepy fashion by Andrew Stevens. Frequent De Palma actor Amy Irving also shows up as the girl who can maybe help Douglas in his quest, all while trying to remain one step ahead of the governmental agency he used to work for before they tried to kill him. Plus the film also has Charles Durning, who appeared in the De Palma classic Sisters, this time as a doctor instead of a private investigator.

The Fury has many great set pieces that do stand out, ranging from the action packed opener to a car chases that is funny and well executed. There is plenty of slow motion, and yet none of the slow motion comes off as dumb; one scene it’s used for is full of violence and inspires horror and despair. Cassavetes is a great villain, manipulative and sleazy, while Douglas embodies Peter with the stoic drive to get his son back that never comes off as sappy. The psychic scenes are also never goofy and add to film’s overall chill factor, while the conclusion is truly shocking and unexpected.

I came in not expecting much and left feeling that this is one of De Palma’s best films, and its too bad that he hasn’t made more than a few other horror films during his career. He seems to have a knack for them, understanding that people can be scarier than any monster.  Oh and the score by John Williams is fantastic, which comes as no surprise-I never comment on music in horror movies enough, it seems.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Sisters (1973, Brian De Palma)


Midway through Sisters I realized that this was one bizarre horror film. Brian De Palma pays homage to Psycho and also Rear Window in his own odd way, even going so far as to hire Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock’s old composer, to do the film’s score. I loved the use of split screen later on in the film, particularly since it ups the tension and is a relatively unique technique. De Palma also utilizes flashbacks and home video in a scene that is rather disturbing and eerie, taking the viewer deeper into the film and acting as a strange and really vivid fantasy that happens to be actually happening to the film’s protagonist, Grace, the neighbor of one Danielle, played by Margot Kidder. The truth of the entire matter surrounding a murder that Grace claims to have witnessed but yet no one can find a trace of is not even the craziest thing about this entire movie.

Nope instead its the fact that Danielle is not who she seems, and that her past hides a dangerous secret that leads to even more intrigue. I was fascinated by how well constructed this movie is, although I am well aware of De Palma’s reputation for creating smart thrillers. In a way Sisters is a fine dress rehearsal for De Palma’s 1976 horror classic Carrie, another movie about a disturbed woman who ends up committing violent acts. I found the murder scene to be rather shocking and graphic, and the use of red blood in a white room is a brilliant contrast of visually striking colors is fantastic and another hallmark of De Palma’s work.

Well that and the film also has the charming performance of Charles Durning, who plays an obsessive private eye hired by Grace to get to the bottom of the mystery. Even though its low budget aspects hurt the film a little Sisters is a really good, maybe even great, horror film that stands out from some of the early 70s horror thrillers. I would love to purchase it on Criterion at some point, although I’m not sure if its not out of print or not. The current sale going on is as good a time as any to find out.

Favorite Authors


Lately I’ve been thinking about the novelists that I’ve been a huge fan of over the years. Some of my favorites would include:

*Ray Bradbury. He gave us Fahrenheit 451, one of my all time favorite novels, and The Martian Chronicles, which is an amazing book. Among other famous books and short stories. I love that he wrote fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and that he lived a long and rich life. I love that Bradbury was a huge proponent not just of people reading, but also of people thinking and using their minds.

*Arthur C. Clarke, a man who was much a visionary as he was a fantastic sci-fi writer. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic, and I liked the sequel to it as well. Plus one of his short story collections, of which I have read. Sadly I’m still waiting for mankind to journey to Saturn and Jupiter, reaching beyond the stars.

*Ernest Hemmingway, who gave us The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, Farewell To Arms, and others. I love his tough, tense prose and how his characters bear external and internal scars. There is a rough poetry to his work, and he lived as much as he wrote.

*Michael Crichton, a man that married sci-fi with entertainment and was responsible for many blockbuster style books. Jurassic Park is one of my favorites, and I like The Lost World, Congo, and a couple others. He was taken from us too soon, and just when the 21st century was getting started.

*Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man responsible for Sherlock Holmes but also The Lost World, a huge favorite novel of mine. I love how he gave us one of the all time greatest characters in Holmes who along with Watson solved crimes using his great intellect and keen sense of observation.

*Stephen King, who needs no introduction. The Dark Tower series is legendary, as is his horror tales. ‘Salem’s Lot and Carrie are classics, and The Stand is an epic and magnificent sprawling tale about the battle for mankind after the end of civilization. I’m glad that he is still alive and writing, as he survived being run over by a car sometime ago.

There are a couple others that don’t come to mind currently, but this list will do for now.

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