Director – Sidney J. Furie
Cast – Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa, George Coe, Margaret Blye, Jacqueline Brookes, Richard Brestoff, Michael Alldredge, Raymond Singer, Allan Rich
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
You should know by now that I absolutely love demon-oriented films, and with reason. Growing up in “faith” has in fact led me to fear these beasts probably more than the average person. I’m not promoting religion, just saying that it is quite ironic I benefited from my upbringing in regards to this awesome demon sub-genre, heh. One of the better demon films in horror lore that unfortunately has not seen much hype is the 1981 film “based on true events”, The Entity. I don’t know what it is with women and demons, but this film employs the women-demon relationship to the max.
This flick stars a very beautiful Barbara Hershey(Mary Magdalene in The Last Temptation of Christ) as Carla Morgan, a single mother of three. One night she is vehemently attacked and raped out of nowhere by a being she cannot see, but can surely feel. The attacks continue to haunt Carla, and they worsen to the point that she is even attacked during the day, away from home. As the violence increases her children slowly become victims of this phenomenon as well, and that does not sit well with Carla. She enlists the help of a psychiatrist named Phil Sneiderman(Ron Silver) who despite his care for Carla and her situation, cannot believe she is actually being attacked by “someone” and opts instead for a “realistic” approach to her problems. With none of the right people believing her, she desperately enlists the help of a parapsychology team that specializes in poltergeists. This proves to be troublesome for Carla, because this demon loves the attention.
What is the biggest reason behind my love for these demon films? One element: atmosphere. Because many of these antagonists are seldom “seen”, filmmakers must rely on atmosphere alone to set up each scare, and I LOVE atmosphere. Thankfully, this film got it right in this apartment and I must say that I am quite impressed with the direction of Sidney J. Furie in this film. Each scare sequence was perfectly executed with just the right camera angles, music(which I LOVED), and lighting. The success behind any scare is the set-up, and Furie’s set-up is top notch. I am actually pretty surprised to be saying this, because aside from this film mostly everything he has done has been pretty crappy, maybe mediocre at best. Nonetheless he did great with this film, and that is what matters here. This awesome atmosphere was aided by creepy and solemn sets, mainly the home Carol and her children live in. Warm and cozy, this is the last home you would expect to find a demon, and that is what I found so creepy about it. I love that.
The storyline is an interesting one, and one that kept me engaged for most of the film. This flick does move slow, but that is most likely the result of the drama element thrown in between Carol’s attacks, which take up some screen time. Adapting this film from his very own novel, author/writer Frank De Felitta wrote in several elements that I heavily enjoyed, especially the sequence near the end where the parapsychologists actually try and capture the demon. Nicely done. We see Carol go though all sorts of hell as a character, and thankfully nothing that we got from her was useless nor unneeded. Like I said, this film does get a bit slow at times(it is slightly over two hours in length!), but like I said this is more than just a horror film and displays the psychological turmoil that would ensue if you were in Carol’s shoes.
I really do not have any complaints on this film, just be aware that it will slow down at times at the hands of it’s content. Now that I think of it, I don’t think we even get a single kill in this film! Some of you may not enjoy that, but I actually have much respect for a film that kills no one yet has the ability to scare the pants off of you. If you watch this film alone and in the dark like I did(as EVERY horror film should be viewed), you will not be disappointed in the scare department. Plus, well, we get a naked Barbara Herschey, and who can complain about that?
Overall, this is one of the better demon-oriented films that relies heavily on atmosphere and story instead of gimmicks to do it’s job, scare the hell out of you. Give this a watch and experience some great horror filmmaking.