No relation to the forgettable 2015 horror film of the same name, this is the UK blu-ray debut of Sydney Furie's 1982 cult flick starring Barbara Hershey.
Carla (Hershey) is a single mother struggling to make ends meet while her on-off boyfriend Jerry (Alex Rocco) is out of town on business. By day she works at her low-paid clerical job. On evenings she attends secretarial school in the hope of honing her typing skills. On a night she returns to the family home where she looks after her three kids, Billy (David Labiosa), Kim (Melanie Gaffin) and Julie (Natasha Ryan).
One evening, Carla puts the children to bed and - out of the blue - is attacked in her own bedroom by an unseen assailant. Her screams alert the kids, who run into the room only for the would-be rapist to have vanished. Teenager Billy scouts the house for signs of an intruder but there are none; all doors and windows have been locked from the inside.
Choosing not to ring the police after Billy convinces her she's simply had a bad dream, Carla is attacked again a short while later. This time she doesn't hang about: she scoops up her family and scarpers in their car to best friend Cindy's (Margaret Blye) house. Cindy offers the clan a place to stay overnight - much to her husband's chagrin - but is understandably sceptical when Carla explains that she's been raped by an apparition. Feeling unsupported, Carla returns home with the kids.
Of course, it's not long until she's visited again by her invisible aggressor - this time in her car, on the way to work. Finally, she's compelled to visit a nearby clinic and discuss the possibility that she may be going insane.
Is she really imagining these attacks? Are they the product of repressed memories from her own childhood suffering at the hands of an abusive father? And can she really have been responsible for the hideous bruises and love-bites that are starting to appear on her body following each "attack"?
These are questions that kindly doctor Phil (Ron Silver) seeks answers to. He's cynical to begin with, but treads carefully around Carla. While he praises her for her strong independent stance in life, he feels that she urgently needs to talk about her feelings if she is to overcome personal demons. It's only when Carla is assaulted in front of her children, and Billy suffers a broken wrist while trying to help his mother, that Phil decides to intervene to a greater extent. Even then, it's more because he's starting to believe Carla may a threat to herself and her family...
As the attacks continue and Carla becomes more and more mentally fraught, Phil starts to warm to the notion that perhaps she is being haunted. It's something that doesn't sit well with the panel of psychological experts that he introduces her to.
Can Phil persuade his professional cohorts to take Carla's claims seriously, and get her the help she needs? Are her visitations genuine, or the result of her repressed sexual anxieties? Will the torture ever end?
THE ENTITY owes a lot of its style to THE EXORCIST. It's got a similar autumnal look and feel, as well as that "studio" vibe to it. It helps too, of course, that it's headed by the credible star power of Hershey and Silver. The opening scene even starts with music highly reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's iconic "Tubular Bells". The synopses of both films are vaguely similar too: female characters invaded in their own home by supernatural beings.
Director Furie's film branches off though with its delicate character study of a strong woman with a troubled past, Hershey being well-cast in a role that affords her ample opportunity to show off both resilience and vulnerability in equally convincing fashion. She's an authentic everywoman character and is ably flanked by a sincere Silver and Labiosa as her well-meaning if somewhat bewildered eldest son.
Frank De Felitta wrote the screenplay, which was adapted from his own novel (which itself was loosely based on a true paranormal case study from 1976). He understands his characters and for the most part infuses incredible situations with credible reactions and dialogue. There is, however, one specific moment of dialogue during the coda which is intended as being menacing but unfortunately comes across as unintentionally amusing. It almost undermines the two hours of carefully paced atmosphere that's preceded it. Almost.
I recall first seeing THE ENTITY on VHS back in the mid-1980s. I wasn't struck by it: I thought it was slow, overly long and severely lacking in gore (there isn't any). Yes, it was all about the gore for me back then. I suppose, as a teenage boy, I didn't truly empathise with Carla's traumatic experiences. Revisiting it now, it's hard to imagine I once was too naive to realise just how terrifying the concept of a woman being repeatedly raped in her own home by an unseen force is.
The attack scenes are handled well. They're never too explicit and the emphasis is very clearly on the terror of the situation, not titillation. Even during one scene where the entity seduces Carla in her sleep and brings her to orgasm, there is no implication of erotica here - the scene is uncomfortable and conceptually distressing, as it should be.
The final act descends into silliness as De Felitta and Furie bow to the need for a climactic finish. But, that aside, THE ENTITY stands the test of time as one of the more unusual and restrained horror films of the early 1980s.
Eureka!'s region B blu-ray presents THE ENTITY uncut - 125 minutes and 8 seconds long - an in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 16x9 transfer benefits from full 1080p resolution, and is housed on this disc as a nicely sized MPEG4-AVC file. Colours and flesh-tones are accurate, blacks are consistently strong and a nice clean print is utilised helping to bring natural detail out like never before. Pleasingly, there is no evidence of noise reduction.
English audio comes in a dependable, even 2.0 DTS-HD mix. Optional English subtitles are provided for the hard-of hearing: these are easily readable and, as far as I could see, free from typing errors.
A static menu page opens the disc. Although there is no scene selection menu, the film benefit from having 13 chapter stops.
The sole bonus feature on offer is the film's original 82-second trailer. It's restored in HD and looks good, if not as crisp as the film itself.
THE ENTITY holds up well and looks great on Eureka!'s blu-ray disc.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Eureka!|