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Film / The Fury

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The Fury is a 1978 thriller film based on the novel of the same name by John Farris, directed by Brian De Palma and starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgrass, Charles Durning, Amy Irving, and Andrew Stevens.

The film follows Peter Sandza (Douglas), whose friend Ben Childress (Cassavetes) — who works for a shady, unnamed government intelligence — arranges a fake terrorist attack to kill him and during the chaos kidnaps his son Robin (Stevens), intending to put his tremendous psychic powers to good use in the Cold War. Peter starts a desperate search for his son and tracks him to Chicago, where he enlists the aid of Gillian (Irving), a budding telepath who is being studied at the Paragon Institute by Dr. Jim McKeever (Durning), his assistant Hester (Snodgrass), and other people connected to Ben. Determined to silence Peter, Ben and his cronies are constantly hindering the process. Meanwhile, the experiments they've forced Robin to undergo have made him dangerously violent...

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: The novel's Childermass became the film's Childress.
  • Affably Evil: Dr. McKeever, Gillian's mentor at the Paragon Institute, is a genuinely nice guy, but he's still secretly working for Childress.
  • Age Lift: Gillian and Robin are both 14 in the novel (which puts them more into the Psychic Children trope), but are aged to 17 in the film (and are played by Amy Irving, 24 at the time, and Andrew Stevens, 22).
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Both Gillian and Robin are this. Gillian is treated poorly by the others due to her psychic abilities and Robin feels he won't fit in the school in Chicago and both think they're freaks by the others.
  • Asshole Victim: For all his crimes and trying to manipulate Gillian, Childress gets blown up from inside-out by her in the end.
  • Badass Adorable: Gillian, a attractive, sweet teenager finishes off Childress by blowing him up with her enhanced powers.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Gillian is a very pleasant girl, but she literally blows up Childress after finding out what he did to Robin and intended to do to her.
  • Big Bad Friend: Childress is Peter's close friend, but he's ultimately the villain who conspires to bring Robin under his control.
  • Big "NO!": Gillian says this when she witnesses Robin attacking the guards, and again when Robin falls to his death.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, Gillian's the only good guy left standing. On the other, she spectacularly gets back at Childress, who was behind all the misery in the first place.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to Gillian when her powers start harming others.
    • She also breaks down when she witnesses the deaths of Dr. Susan Charles and Robin.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule Gillian kills Childress by making his body explode. We get to see the explosion repeated several times from several angles.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Peter is shown to have a bit of witty banter.
    • Cheryl towards Gillian.
    Cheryl: See any ghosts today, Gillian?
    • Gillian is shown to be snarky at times too.
    Gillian: (to Cheryl) She can't help being upset. She has to take it out on someone.
    Cheryl: What did you say?
    Gillian: Oh, Cheryl, you don't want everyone to know that you're pregnant, do you?
    • Hester is capable of sarcasm too, especially around Peter.
  • Destination Defenestration: Happens to innocent bystanders, main characters and, of course, mooks.
  • Disney Villain Death: For Robin Sandza. The body is seen on the ground, and he lives just long enough to pass on his powers.
  • Driven to Suicide: Poor Peter, when he fails to save Robin.
  • False Flag Operation: Childress fakes a terrorist attack to kill Peter and to capture his son.
  • The Film of the Book: John Farris did the screenplay adaptation of his own novel.
  • Final Girl: Gillian is the only major character to not be murdered in the movie and she survives long enough to kill Childress by blowing him up.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: Inverted. Peter hijacks the car of two off-duty cops while he's on the run.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Crazed Robin attacks his father with a bottle when he is finally found by him.
  • Government Conspiracy: Childress heads up a CIA-backed organization that kidnaps psychics to use as weapons.
  • The Hero Dies: Peter, the main protagonist commits suicide after failing to save his son Robin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hester is hit by a car while helping Gillian escape the institute.
  • Hospital Hottie: Dr. Susan Charles, Childress' attractive assistant, is Robin's main caretaker and initiates a sexual relationship with him, to help control him.
  • Kiss of Death: Gillian gives one to Childress before blowing him up in the end.
  • Male Gaze: Gillian is introduced to us at a beach, her backside first.
  • The Men in Black: Childress is a government operative involved in a big secret conspiracy.
  • The Mole: Hester, who works at the Paragon Institute, secretly helps Peter try to locate Robin, and frees Gillian from the institute as part of the plan.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Gillian plays her first scene in a bikini. Also her best friend LaRue.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As Gillian and Hester are escaping from the institute, Peter shoots the driver pursuing Gillian, causing the car to go out of control and kill Hester.
    • Also Gillian screams at Robin from outside, giving away her and Peter's location.
  • Obviously Evil: Childress is an amoral Smug Snake who's orchestrating a huge conspiracy and has no qualms about people dying in order to have his goals achieved, all hidden behind a slimy, smarmy Faux Affably Evil personality.
  • Only Friend: Gillian only has one friend named LaRue, while the rest make fun of her.
  • Papa Wolf: Peter will stop at nothing to get his son back. He even strangled Childress for kidnapping him.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Gillian: (before blowing Childress up) You go to hell!
  • Psychic Nosebleed: A variation that predates the formal Trope Maker, David Cronenberg's Scanners. Gillian's unfamiliarity with her powers causes bleeding on people who touch her, especially if they're already injured in some way.
  • Psychic Powers: Just like De Palma's previous film Carrie, the story is focused on a teen girl with paranormal powers. Rather than Horror, though, this film is in more of an Action Thriller vein.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dr. Ellen Lindstorm, the chief assistant of Dr. Jim McKeever tries to help Gillian when she finds out she has contact with Robin.
    • Hester, an assistant at the Paragon Institute eavesdrops on Childress' plan to kidnap Gillian and she helps Gillian find Robin and plans her escape from the Institute.
  • Red Right Hand: Childress' permanently damaged arm.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Almost — Robin attempts to kill his father during his rampage.
  • Shout-Out: It's a Brian De Palma film, so naturally there's an obvious Alfred Hitchcock reference—the scene at the indoor amusement park is a nod to the climax of Strangers on a Train.
  • Sinister Shades: In case you didn't already figure out that Childress is a really bad dude, he wears these in a few scenes.
  • Slow Motion: Used when Gillian breaks out from the Paragon Institute. The sequence goes on for several minutes.
  • Super-Empowering: In the aftermath of the climax, the dying Robin passes his powers to Gillian.
  • Take My Hand!: In the climax, Peter tries to save Robin from a fall this way.
  • Tears of Blood: Childress starts weeping these before he explodes.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Gillian first appears walking on the coast in a bikini, along with her best friend LaRue.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Robin undergoes a particularly nasty case of this.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Peter slaps Gillian to get her to get on the bus when she wants to take him to Robin.
    • Robin later goes into a rage and uses his powers against Dr. Susan Charles and kills her by spinning her around repeatedly.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Subverted when Gillian gives Childress what he's due — everything but the head explodes.


Video Example(s):


Gillian and LaRue

Gillian Bellaver and her best friend LaRue are introduced in their first scene walking on a beach in bikinis.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / WalkingSwimsuitScene

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