Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days Of Horror Movies 2012 (Part Two)

THE ENTITY (1983): Martin Scorsese called The Entity one of the 11 scariest movies ever made, alongside indisputable classics like The Exorcist and the original version of The Haunting. For my part, I can't say that I found it very scary--it could be that Scorsese was responding to the lead performance by his sometime collaborator Barbara Hershey, who he worked with on Boxcar Bertha and The Last Temptation Of Christ. Hershey's fearless, strong-willed performance is the best thing about this supposedly true story, which sees a working single mother of three repeatedly assaulted and raped by a ghostly assailant. A sympathetic psychiatrist (played by a decidedly Pacinoesque Ron Silver) is convinced that the attacks are all in the woman's mind--a result of an abusive childhood and a troubled adult sexual history--but that doesn't stop a team of paranormal researchers from hatching a plan to try and physically trap the beast. The attacks are shockingly graphic, aided by a pounding musical score and startling special effects by Stan Winston (high-pressure air jets were used to make it appear that Hershey's skin is being groped by invisible hands). There's also some cool uses of split-focus photography, where characters and objects in both the foreground and background are simultaneously in focus (Brian DePalma used this technique plenty in Blow Out). But the triumphant, over-the-top climax, culminating in a powerhouse scene where Hershey faces the demon down with steely determination, is undercut by a final scroll which reveals that the attacks continued for years afterward. The Entity is a defiantly perverse bit of early Eighties studio horror, but a somewhat maddening one due to the unresolved nature of its antagonist.

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