Friday, March 20, 2009
Films From the Crypt - Episode 1: The Entity
Films From the Crypt - Episode 1 - The Entity (1981)
Tagline: "There is no escape from something you cannot see."
Director: Sidney J. Furie
View the trailer
Starring: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, Alex Rocco
Welcome to the newest addition to the 'choke, this is Films From the Crypt. In this section, we will be reviewing mostly older, relatively obscure movies that you may have let slip through the cracks. Some will be good, others, not so much. Some of the reviews may end up being on more recent fare, but in general I'm here to tackle some of those greats oldies. I'm looking forward to it.
For the first episode, I am reviewing the 1981 horror/thriller The Entity, starring the late Ron Silver and Barbara Hershey. Warning, here there will be minor spoilers.
The film begins mundanely enough, following single mother Carla Moran (the delectable Barbara Hershey) as she travels from work, to her adult education classes, and finally home to see her children. Once she has said goodnight to her little ones, Carla goes into her bedroom to relax when, all of a sudden, she is raped! By a ghost! That's right. Ghost-raped. Of course, I'm making light of the situation to hide the fact that I, too, was once ghost-raped.
In all seriousness, I give director Sidney J. Furie credit because he's able to play the scenario completely straight and actually do it well. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find enough camp in this movie to be able to really make fun of it while watching it, which is some feat considering the subject matter. Just to be clear, The Entity is really an effective horror film.
The entire film revolves around Carla Moran and her being attacked again and again by an unseen, malign force. She is continously raped and beaten by this invisible entity, and she finally decides to seek professional help. After a particularly scary incident for her, when the ghost takes control of her car as she is driving, Carla decides to go to a clinic where she meets psychologist Phil Sneiderman (the excellent Ron Silver) who really takes an interest in Carla's case.
Through-out the course of the film, Carla remains fairly unsure about her own sanity, and we are privy to a handful of different sessions that she has with Dr. Sneiderman. Of course, Sneiderman is the requisite scientist/skeptic (that may or may not be trying to slime his way into Carla's pants himself) that does not believe Carla is being attacked by a ghost, but that it is all in her head, and he eventually even almost gets her to believe that. Unfortunately for Dr. Sneiderman's case, eventually there are witnesses to this ghostly madness, and Carla is finally able to deal with the reality of the situation.
Eventually, the local university's parapsychology department takes an interest in Carla, and this is where things get really strange. The department head, after a series of tests, decides to set up a trap to catch the entity. This trap is merely a reconstruction of Carla's home inside a gymnasium, with liquid hydrogen set to freeze it. Does it work? Well, I guess you'll have to watch and find out.
The Entity is truly a bizarre film. I don't know that a movie with an invisible antagonist, that continually and brutally rapes a woman would be made today. It's an extremely ambitious production, that may not always hit on all cylinders, but continues to be effective and creepy today. It's a completely bloodless horror movie that works, go figure. Supposedly, it's based on a true story (and not in that Texas Chainsaw Massacre way, but for real) about a woman who experienced events very closely resembling those in the film. The acting is nothing short of phenomenal, with the two leads really doing a great job, especially Hershey, having to interact with nothing but the air.
My biggest complaint is in the pacing. The film has an exceptionally long run time for this kind of picture (clocking in at 125 minutes) that seems to lag a little bit, especially in the second and third acts. As far as production is concerned, the limited amount of visual effects are done really well. Interestingly enough, the late Stan Winston handled the "special makeup effects". It really is an above average picture, that is truly strange and ready to be discovered by you, loyal reader. And, hey, it's a poltergeist movie that predates Poltergeist.
If you've missed The Enitity, unfortuanately you may have a hard time finding a copy as the Anchor Bay DVD is currently out of print. You can always find used copies on Amazon, but they can run anywhere from $25-$30. Hopefully we'll see a Blu Ray release in the future, but I'm not holding my breath. It's always these typs of entertaining little genre films that don't make the jump to the next generation of technology.
- Jordan M.
Sulphur Springs, TX