The Medusa Touch (film)
|The Medusa Touch|
Original 1978 film poster
|Directed by||Jack Gold|
|Produced by||Anne V. Coates
Arnon Milchan (executive)
|Screenplay by||John Briley|
|Based on||The Medusa Touch by
Peter Van Greenaway
|Music by||Michael J. Lewis|
|Edited by||Anne V. Coates
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures (USA)|
|14 April 1978
|Country||United Kingdom & France|
The Medusa Touch is a 1978 British supernatural thriller film directed by Jack Gold. It starred Richard Burton, Lino Ventura, Lee Remick and Harry Andrews, with cameos by Alan Badel, Derek Jacobi, Gordon Jackson, Jeremy Brett and Michael Hordern. The screenplay was by John Briley, based on the novel The Medusa Touch by Peter Van Greenaway.
Brunel, a French detective on an exchange scheme in London, is assigned to investigate the murder of novelist John Morlar. As they examine the crime scene, Brunel discovers the victim is still alive in spite of his severe injuries and has him rushed to hospital.
With the help of Morlar's journals and Dr. Zonfeld, a psychiatrist Morlar was seeing, Brunel reconstructs Morlar's past life. Seen in flashback, it is filled with inexplicable catastrophes and the sudden deaths of people he disliked or who offended him.
Morlar is a psychic with powerful telekinetic abilities. Disgusted at the world, Morlar has caused two recent disasters: an airliner crash into a London office tower and the loss of a manned spacecraft.
From his hospital bed, he manages to bring down a cathedral on the "unworthy heads" of a VIP congregation attending a fund raising event for the crumbling building's restoration. Morlar seems able to keep himself alive by sheer willpower. As an enraged Brunel tries to kill Morlar to end the destruction Morlar writes on a pad the name of his next target: the nuclear power station at Windscale (now Sellafield).
Film and novel
The film follows the plot of Van Greenaway's novel fairly closely, but changes several details.
- In the novel, the detective is not a Frenchman but an English character named Inspector Cherry, who appears in several other Van Greenaway books.
- In the novel Zonfeld is male and is a Holocaust survivor whose experience of Sachsenhausen concentration camp contributes to his eventual suicide.
- At the end of the book, Morlar's hand does not scrawl Windscale but Holy Loch, the site of an American nuclear submarine base.
The Reculver Towers near Herne Bay were used for the scene where young John and his parents are having a picnic whilst on holiday. John wills the car to move towards his parents, which causes them and the car to fall over the cliff. Herne Bay was also used for the scene where a young John Morlar (Adam Bridges) stays with his parents and is out on the seafront. The hotel is now residential properties.
- Richard Burton as John Morlar
- Lino Ventura as Brunel
- Lee Remick as Doctor Zonfeld
- Harry Andrews as Assistant Commissioner
- Alan Badel as Barrister
- Marie-Christine Barrault as Patricia
- Jeremy Brett as Edward Parrish
- Michael Hordern as Atropos - Fortune Teller
- Gordon Jackson as Doctor Johnson
- Michael Byrne as Duff
- Derek Jacobi as Townley - Publisher
- Robert Lang as Pennington
- Avril Elgar as Mrs. Pennington
- John Normington as Schoolmaster
- Robert Flemyng as Judge McKinley
- Philip Stone as Dean
- Malcolm Tierney as Deacon
- Norman Bird as Father
- Jennifer Jayne as Mother
- James Hazeldine as Lovelass
A sample from the film (Richard Burton's line "I will bring the whole edifice down on their unworthy heads") was used in the Manic Street Preachers' 1998 song "Ready for Drowning". The 2005 Manic Street Preachers song "Leviathan" includes the lyric "Baader Meinhof and Medusa Touch".
- Variety film review; February 8, 1978; page 18.
- Newman, Kim (1988). Nightmare Movies: Critical History of the Horror Film, 1968-88. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7475-0295-1.
- "The Medusa Touch". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2011-09-05.
- Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office The Medusa Touch Film Focus".
- The Medusa Touch at the Internet Movie Database
- The Medusa Touch at AllMovie
- The Medusa Touch at Rotten Tomatoes