The Entity

USA 1982, 125 mins
Director: Sidney J. Furie

Horror icon Barbara Hershey stars in this underseen and affecting film about a single mother repeatedly attacked by an unseen force. She is beaten, sexually assaulted and hounded by this spectral creature for no apparent reason – and no one will believe or help her in her ordeal. Released in the same year as Poltergeist, whose success eclipsed it, this remains one of the most affecting horror films you’ll see.
Anna Bogutskaya,

Given the story’s claim to a basis in truth (though what self-respecting horror movie can nowadays dispense with such a claim?), The Entity’s formulary aspect is doubly disturbing, as though the thing itself had been observing trends in the movie market and come up with a combination guaranteed to get it on the screen: an invisible macho rapist violating a single working mother in Southern California.

Frank DeFelitta’s screenplay, taken from his own ‘true’ novel, dutifully surrounds Carla with a supporting cast from any B-horror flick: a psychiatrist who argues earnestly for a rational interpretation (Sneiderman may look modern, object to smoking, say ‘fuck’ a lot and drive a late-model Volkswagen, but is otherwise straight out of the 1950s); a boyfriend who sees the attacks as rendering Carla unfit to be his wife; and a team of daffy parapsychologists who look as though they may at any moment decide to play it all for laughs, but are nevertheless on hand to provide the requisite note of religious awe (‘Hang in there, Joe’, comments one as the experiment gets under way. ‘And pray’ adds Dr Cooley thoughtfully).

The plot is equally full of loose ends: how, for example, does Carla manage to hide from Jerry the appalling bruises she shows to Sneiderman? Why is the total destruction of Cindy’s apartment never referred to again, since it is plainly the work of a force infinitely stronger than Carla? And would the parapsychologists really walk out on Carla pre-midnight, muttering, ‘If you’ll excuse us, Mrs Moran… ‘? The nature of the attacks is also a highly ambiguous, not to say exploitative, approach to certain areas of sexuality, notably wife-battering and the implication that Carla may encourage and even, in some way, enjoy her defilement.

But leaving aside such niceties of interpretation, the film barrels its way through events, helped by a finely understated performance from Barbara Hershey and a highly skilled construction along the lines of basic cinematic effect. DeFelitta’s screenplay has much of the genuine chill of his earlier Audrey Rose, and The Entity, despite all its formulary ingredients, actually works rather well. The attack in the bathroom, building from an ominous series of strange angles of Carla relaxing in the tub, via a door quietly closing, to her being jerked round the room by her invisible assailant, is neither very profound nor very pleasant, but it is well put together.
Nick Roddick, Monthly Film Bulletin, November 1982

Director: Sidney J. Furie
©: Pelleport Investors
Production Company: American Cinema Productions
Executive Producers: Michael Leone, Andrew D.T. Pfeffer
Producer: Harold Schneider
Production Executive: David Salven
Production Manager: David Salven
Production Co-ordinator: Jane Prosnit
Production Co-ordinator (Visual Effects Unit): Elizabeth Goldsmith
Production Controller: Ann Tait
Location Manager: Robert Eggenweiler
Assistant Directors: Tommy Thompson, William Cosentino
Screenplay and Original Novel: Frank De Felitta
Director of Photography: Stephen H. Burum
Optical Camera Operator: Hubert Nichols
Camera Operator: Joe Marquette Jr
Camera Operator (Visual Effects Unit): Sam Di Maggio
Visual Effects Designer: William Cruse
Process Projectionists: Thomas Ajar, Norman Markowitz
Special Effects: Joe Lombardi, Special Effects Unlimited, Marty Bresin, Joe Digaetano, Steve Lombardi, Gary Monak, Bob Willard
Editor: Frank J. Urioste
Production Designer: Charles Rosen
Set Designer: Boyd Willat, Daniel Gluck
Set Decorator: Jerry Wunderlich
Prod Illustrator (Visual Effects Unit): Mentor Huebner
Ice Sculpture: George Risko
Costume Supervisor: Nancy McArdle
Costumes: Darryl Athons
Make-up: Zoltan Elek
Special Make-up Effects: Stan Winston, James Kagel
Puppeteer: James Cotten
Title Design: Gene Kraft
Titles: Modern Film Effects
Music: Charles Bernstein
Music Editor: Ken Wilhoit
Music Recording: Joel Fein
Sound Recording: Willie Burton
Sound Re-recording: Bill Varney, Gregg Landaker, Steve Maslow
Sound Effects Editor: Keith Stafford
ADR (Additional voices): Custom Looping
Stunt Co-ordinator: Chris Howell
Video Consultant: Hal Landaker
Technical Adviser: Barry Taff, Kerry Gaynor
Projection Consultant: Jim Brigham

Barbara Hershey (Carla Moran)
Ron Silver (Dr Phil Sneiderman)
David Labiosa (Billy Moran)
George Coe (Dr Weber)
Maggie Blye (Cindy Nash)
Jacqueline Brookes (Dr Elizabeth Cooley)
Richard Brestoff (Gene Kraft)
Michael Alldredge (George Nash)
Raymond Singer (Joe Mehan)
Allan Rich (Dr Walcott)
Natasha Ryan (Julie)
Melanie Gaffin (Kim)
Alex Rocco (Jerry Anderson)
Sully Boyar (Mr Reisz)
Tom Stern (Woody Browne)
Curt Lowens (Dr Wilkes)
Paula Victor (Dr Chevalier)
Lee Wilkof (Dr L. Hase)
Deborah Stevenson, Mark Weiner (interns)
Lisa Gurley (receptionist)
Chris Howell (guard)
John Branagan, Daniel Furie, Amy Kirkpatric, Todd Kutches, Pauline Lomas (students)
Renee Neimark (nurse)
Ed Begley, Leigh French (additional voices)

USA 1982
125 mins

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