The Fury (film)

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The Fury
The Fury (1978).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian De Palma
Screenplay byJohn Farris
Based onThe Fury
by John Farris
Produced byFrank Yablans
CinematographyRichard H. Kline
Edited byPaul Hirsch
Music byJohn Williams
Frank Yablans Presentations
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 10, 1978 (1978-03-10)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7.5 million[1]
Box office$24 million[2]

The Fury is a 1978 American supernatural thriller film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Amy Irving, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, and Andrew Stevens. The screenplay by John Farris was based on his 1976 novel of the same name.

Produced by Frank Yablans and released by 20th Century Fox on March 10, 1978, the film was both critically and commercially successful, grossing $24 million from a $7.5 million budget. Film critic Pauline Kael highly lauded the music, composed and conducted by John Williams, calling it "as apt and delicately varied a score as any horror movie has ever had".[3][4]


In Israel, ex-CIA agent Peter Sandza and his psychic son Robin meet Ben Childress, Peter's old agency colleague. Sandza plans to leave his old life and return to the United States with his son, but Childress objects and subsequently stages a terrorist attack to cover up kidnapping Robin for his “protection”. Peter narrowly survives, maiming Childress in the attempt and escaping while heavily injured, but is unable to protect Robin.

Months later in Chicago, high-school student Gillian Bellaver discovers her psychic powers, including telekinesis and extra-sensory perception, during an in-class demonstration. The uncontrolled manifestations of these powers harm people who physically touch or provoke her. She volunteers to attend the Paragon Institute, a live-in research facility studying psychic powers in adolescents.

Meanwhile, Peter has tracked his son to Chicago. After evading Childress's agents, Peter meets with his girlfriend Hester, a Paragon nurse, who tells him about Gillian. Peter tells Gillian that Paragon's director is cooperating with PSI, a covert agency led by Childress that kidnaps psychic children to weaponize their powers for the American government, managing and controlling the psychics by brainwashing them and eliminating their families.

As Gillian's psychic prowess grows, she begins experiencing visions of the Institute abusing Robin, who has unsuccessfully attempted escape, and eventually connects to him telepathically. Knowing that she knows too much and that her powers are growing, Childress orders that Gillian be transported to PSI headquarters where Robin is being kept. Hester overhears Childress's conversation and informs Peter, who plans a rescue, hoping she can lead him to Robin.

The rescue is successful, but Hester is killed in the process. Gillian uses her powers to assist Peter in tracking Robin down to a remote mansion in the countryside, where Childress and his handler Susan have spent the last several months grooming and experimenting on him. Though Robin's abilities have grown to unprecedented levels, he gradually becomes increasingly unstable from the psychological strain of his superiors' machinations, culminating in a mass murder inside Old Chicago, an indoor amusement park.

As Peter and Gillian infiltrate the mansion, Robin senses her presence. Believing that PSI intends to kill him and replace him with another psychic, he finally snaps, telekinetically torturing and killing Susan. Peter confronts his son, but Robin, a now-schizoid, furiously attacks him. Robin is thrown out of the window and scratches Peter when he tries to save him from falling. When Robin plunges to the ground, a distraught Peter flings himself after his son, thus killing himself.

Robin lingers a bit before finally dying, and seems to make some form of psychic contact with Gillian; he transfers his refined powers to her, implying that she will save herself from Childress and avenge his death. The next morning, Childress approaches Gillian and starts manipulating her to get her to connect with him. Understanding his long-term intentions, she embraces her psychic abilities and avenges the deaths of Robin and Peter by causing Childress's body to explode.


Actress Hilary Thompson (Cheryl) had her dialogue redubbed by an uncredited Betty Buckley.


Parts of this film used the grounds at Old Chicago of Bolingbrook, Illinois, a now-defunct amusement park. The scene at the hotel when Kirk Douglas escapes the agents took place in a room at the now-defunct Plymouth Hotel, the same room and hotel used in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. Other filming locations included the Water Tower Place, Lincoln Park, and Navy Pier. The PSI headquarters was a Georgian-style mansion in Lake Forest. The opening sequence was shot in Caesarea, Israel. The interiors were filmed at Stage 5 of 20th Century Fox studios in Century City.

In an interview with The Talks, De Palma said that he had 8 or 9 high-speed cameras to film Cassavetes exploding in the film's conclusion: "The first time we did it, it didn't work. The body parts didn't go towards the right cameras and this whole set was covered with blood. And it took us almost a week to get back to do take two".[5]

Originally, the "psychic powers" effect was depicted through golden-yellow "glowing eye" effect. During post-production, the effect's color was changed from yellow to blue. The original effect can still be seen in some trailers and promotional material. The "throbbing vein" effect on the actors forehead was originally in the shooting script for Carrie, but was cut due to time and budgetary constraints.

Dennis Franz makes his film debut as Bob Eggleston, a cop driving a car that Peter hijacks, while Daryl Hannah and Laura Innes make their film debuts as Pam and Jody, students at the school that Gillian attends. Jim Belushi appears as an uncredited background extra. Film director Mark Romanek worked on the film as a production assistant, which was his first job in the film industry.


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four and called it "a stylish entertainment, fast-paced, and acted with great energy. I'm not quite sure it makes a lot of sense, but that's the sort of criticism you only make after it's over. During the movie, too much else is happening".[6] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety stated that "the film plays very well to an undemanding escapist audience", but "those who have to write about the film are confronted with a gaping hole in the script: Apart from a few throwaway references to government agencies and psychic phenomena, there is never, anywhere, a coherent exposition of what all the running and jumping is about. The more one analyzes the picture, the less substantive its story becomes. Better not to think too much about this one".[7] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: "'The Fury' is bigger than Carrie, more elaborate, much more expensive and far sillier ... It's also, in fits and starts, the kind of mindless fun that only a horror movie that so seriously pretends to be about the mind can be. Mr. De Palma seems to have been less interested in the overall movie than in pulling off a couple of spectacular set-pieces, which he does".[8] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four and described it as "one of those thrillers where you sit around and wait for the big scenes. And the key word in that sentence is 'wait' because there is little in The Fury to hold your attention in between its three big scenes of extreme violence. That's because the film develops only one character. Its story also makes little sense, and for a movie ostensibly about psychic powers, The Fury contains precious little magic".[9] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "at any moment The Fury could lapse into the ludicrous, but De Palma's control is so taut and filled with bravura that he makes plausible the most bizarre—and bloody—psychic manifestations, not to mention much physical derring-do. Without indulging in the gratuitous, lingering displays that lead to morbidity, De Palma keeps you at seat's edge. He seems to be able to get away with everything".[10] Judith Martin of The Washington Post called it a "very slick movie" and "a film for people who like to see blood — lots of blood, blood pouring from unpleasantly unlikely places, such as eyeballs — and not for anyone who doesn't".[11] Pauline Kael of The New Yorker wrote that "De Palma is one of the few directors in the sound era to make a horror film that is so visually compelling that a viewer seems to have entered a mythic night world. Inside that world, transfixed, we can hear the faint, distant sound of De Palma cackling with pleasure". The music, composed and conducted by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra for the LP re-recording, was also highly praised by Kael, who wrote that it "may be as apt and delicately varied a score as any horror movie has ever had".[12]

As of August 2021, the film holds a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 30 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Brian De Palma reins in his stylistic flamboyance to eerie effect in The Fury, a telekinetic slow burn that rewards patient viewers with its startling set-pieces".[13]

The film opened in 484 theatres in the United States and Canada and grossed $1,917,075. The following weekend it expanded to 518 theatres and grossed $2,777,291 which placed it at number one at the box office for the week.[14][15]


Rick Baker and William J. Tuttle both won Best Make-up at the 6th Saturn Awards.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

In October 2013, UK video label Arrow Films released The Fury onto Blu-ray with a brand-new transfer and exclusive extras.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989, p. 259
  2. ^ "The Fury, Worldwide Box Office". Worldwide Box Office. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  3. ^ "De Palma's 'The Fury' is dominated by one incredible set-piece after another". PopOptiq. 2014-05-04. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  4. ^ Kael, Pauline (1980). When the Lights Go Down. Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 0-0304-251-15.
  5. ^ "Interview with Brian De Palma". The Talks.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Fury". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Murphy, Arthur D. (March 15, 1978). "Film Reviews: The Fury". Variety. 20.
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 15, 1978). "Film: De Palma Mixes Genres in 'Fury'". The New York Times. C19.
  9. ^ Siskel, Gene (March 20, 1978). "'The Fury' has violence and plenty of nothing else". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 6.
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (March 15, 1978). "Brian De Palma Offers 'Fury'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 16.
  11. ^ Martin, Judith (March 17, 1978). "If You Like Blood, You'll Love 'The Fury'". The Washington Post. Weekend, p. 14.
  12. ^ Kael, Pauline (March 20, 1978). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker 122.
  13. ^ "The Fury (1978)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "50 Top-Grossing Films". Variety. April 5, 1978. p. 9.
  15. ^ "The Fury Is Furious (advertisement)". Variety. March 29, 1978. pp. 8–9.

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