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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, but are aged to 17 in the film (and are played by Amy Irving, 24 at the time, and Andrew Stevens, 22).
  • Asshole Victim: For all his crimes and trying to manipulate Gillian, Childress gets blown up from inside-out by her in the end.
  • Big Bad Friend: Childress is Peter's close friend, but he's ultimately the villain who conspires to bring Robin under his control.
  • 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.
  • 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 female 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.
  • 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Lots of One-Scene Wonder supporting roles alongside the main characters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Peter slaps Gillian to get her to get on the bus when she wants to take him to Robin.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Subverted when Gillian gives Childress what he's due — everything but the head explodes.


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