Directed by Sidney J. Furie
Produced by Harold Schneider
Written by Frank De Felitta
Director of Photograpy Stephen H. Burum
Music by Charles Bernstein
Cast: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa & George Coe
1981/125 mins/Color/Dolby Surround 2.0
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD
Many times in the past, I've written about how horror films are viewed by the world and how they are often seen as the shameful step-child of the movie industry. And, I've written about how I despise that concept. However, I must concede that there is one area where dramas have the upper-hand -- their ability to bring true stories to the screen. This is something that's rarely seen in horror, unless you count those bozos who still think that THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was real (or a good movie). One would think that more horror films based on real-life events would be made, as the factual elements would only help to heighten the terror. The 1981 film THE ENTITY makes the most of its real-world roots while milking the supernatural horror trends which had dominated the 1970s.
Barbara Hershey stars in THE ENTITY as Carla Moran, a single-mother struggling to raise her three children and make ends meet. One night, Carla is attacked and raped by an invisible force in her bedroom. Shaken and disturbed, she keeps this event to herself. But, when she is again visited by her unseen assailant in her car -- nearly crashing it -- she seeks the help of psychiatrist Dr. Phil Sneiderman (Ron Silver). Sneiderman is convinced that the attacks are a product of a mental illness, but as they continue to occur and to grow in severity, Carla realizes that they are very real. Recruiting a group of parapsychologists, Carla is determined to face her bizarre tormentor and conquer her fears.
As with many films from its era, THE ENTITY plays everything very straight, helping to add to its effectiveness. This works whether or not one is aware that the film is based on a true story. (This at a time when the "Slasher Movie" craze was in high gear -- and those films always featured teenage shenanigans for comic relief.) In fact, the basic story of Carla's life, raising three children on a strained income, is dramatic and depressing enough without the introduction of a supernatural rapist. While there is never any doubt that we are watching a work of fiction, the movie handles the material with an almost clinical feel, giving the movie a documentary quality.
That is, except for director Sidney J. Furie's love of odd camera angles. There aren't many shots in THE ENTITY which are level and Furie seems to be telling us that things are off-kilter in Carla's world through the camerawork. But, this comes off as very heavy-handed and distracting, as we were able to guess from the fact that she was being violated by an invisible dude that Carla wasn't having a good day. Also of note this the odd music which accompanies the attacks. It's essentially a single note being played over and over on what sounds like an electric guitar. The music is jarring at first, but soon becomes very repetitive.
Still, one must applaud the makers of THE ENTITY for taking such an unflinching view of the subject matter, even if it does become a bit far-fetched at the end. The movie became somewhat infamous at the time for a Stan Winston created special effect involving a scene in which Carla's nude body is touched by the unseen assailant. That scene is still effective today and delivers one of the greatest shocks in the film. Kudos also go out to Barbara Hershey who essentially carries the film. She's in nearly every scene and delivers a very brave performance as she's thrown about during the film and appears completely nude several times. THE ENTITY is an interesting film in that it delivers such a realistic view of its subject matter. The movie is too long and too talky at times, but if your a fan of supernatural terrors, then this one's worth checking out, even if you don't believe in the source story.
THE ENTITY haunts DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks good, although the film shows its age at times, as some shots are somewhat dark and there is some noticeable grain on-screen at times. Otherwise, the image is sharp and relatively clear. The picture is not washed out and the colors are good. There is some mild artifacting at times, but there are few defects from the source material. The DVD carries a Dolby Surround 2.0 audio track which does a fine job of delivering the sound. The dialogue is always clear and audible. The annoying music comes through fine and there are some nice surround effects during the shock scenes.
My pet peeve concerning movies based on real-life events is that the DVDs rarely contain extras to shed light on the true aspects of the story. The DVD of THE ENTITY bucks this trend by presenting of the best special features that I've ever seen. "The Entity Files" is a 27-minute documentary featuring Dr. Barry Taff, one of the parapsychologists who investigated the real-life event. The segment features photos from the event and Taff gives a highly detailed account of the true story. Thus, one can determine which aspects of the film where based on the true story and which were romanticized. Extras such as this should accompany any film of this nature. The only other extras on the DVD are the trailer for THE ENTITY, letterboxed at 1.85:1 and 16 x 9 enhanced, and a Poster & Still Gallery.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©
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