Full of De Palma's trademark style, wit and raw power
The Fury Blu-ray ReviewThe Fury is Brian De Palma’s second foray into the world of psychics, but whereas Carrie (1976) was a straight-out horror based on Stephen King’s book of the same name, this one dealt with shady conspiracies, kidnap, clandestine government agencies as well as people possessing powers they are afraid of. Based on John Farris’ book of the same name, The Fury is full of De Palma's trademark style, wit and raw guts woven tightly together in a spookily scary story whose fear stems not from those with powers, but those in power. Having lived in its elder sibling’s shadow, The Fury is by no means a lesser film; it is just not quite so focused on delivering the shocks, preferring to have a backbone of mystery in amongst bloody mayhem. Securing superstar Kirk Douglas in a starring role and giving the likes of Amy Irving, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress and Charles Durning an equal crack of the whip there is no lack of talent in front of the camera, with De Palma on strong youthful form behind it and John Williams on top form fresh from the triumphant Star Wars; the story develops with paranoia and gusto all the while building to an explosive climax. Lushly restored and vibrant throughout, hold on to your heads as we delve deep into the mind of: The Fury.
The Fury Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG4 codec and it Region locked to B.
The Fury has had an incredibly detailed clean-up “struck directly from the original camera negative and carefully restored to preserve the full colour palette and subtleties of Richard Kline’s masterly cinematography” says James White, the technician in charge, who was also responsible for the acclaimed Zombie Flesh Eaters restoration last year. And I believe him.
Detail is quite incredible considering the age of the film and the style of filming, check out skin detail, the cleft in Douglas’ chin has never looked so deep! Clothing weaves are well defined, eyes, especially Irving’s in her psychic close-ups are clear enough to see blood vessels. Environments are also well defined, check out the grim in the hotel room that Peter escapes to, or the fur on the cats, or and sheen of the oil frying eggs. Distance detail remains firm, the beach overview both in the opening shootout and Gillian’s introduction where the seventies swim suits show off plenty of skin. De Palma’s style of filming does inherently contain an element of soft focus (as does the film stock of the time – see Jaws or The Godfather) but this still looks clean and bright and, crucially, like film.
Colours are vibrant and strong with all primaries coming off with aplomb; greens are lush (check out the lawns on Gillian’s escape where not only the grade is incredible but you can pick out individual grass blades), blues are sweeping (check out the sea and sky or any of the beach shots) and reds and bold and strong (blood, need I say more?). There is no wash, bleed or banding to be seen. Skin tones are suitably natural as well.
Detail is quite incredible considering the age of the film and the style of filming
Contrast and brightness are set to perfection, check out Peter’s escape in the police car, yes it is dark, yes it is grainy (as it should be) but you can see everything you are supposed to, there is even room for some shadow detail as well (check out Childress’ dark suit and the folds therein). Indeed blacks are simply gorgeous and add real punch and depth to the picture.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no jaggies, no posterization and no edge enhancement. There are still a couple of instances of original print damage but they are blink and you’ll miss them and the clean-up has retained the original grain structure, preserving the organic nature of the film. This is a first class restoration and an excellent transfer – but whist it doesn’t compare to the likes of more modern fare (Oblivion for example) it remains top of the pile in restorative and transfer terms; and as such I’m going to award a nine.
The Fury Blu-ray Sound QualityThere are three tracks to choose from: English dts-HD Master Audio 4.0, English LPCM 2.0 mono and an isolated score track; I concentrate on the ‘surround 4.0’ track which equates to the front LCR speakers and a mono signal sent to the back. There are good and bad points about this track, there are some stereo effects, the layering in the mix (i.e. vocals over effects, over score) works well to a certain degree, it is clean and clear but at times the effects (such as the sound of waves in the beginning) are set a little too high – they never drown (!) out the dialogue but they can become a bit of a distraction. Dialogue itself sounds very natural and dominates the frontal array, is clear and precise and always audible. Stereo effects, such as car movements, gun shots and beach noises are given good separation and help add to the ambiance, but the surrounds barely register at all.
Williams’ score is given full reign over the speakers and, perhaps, has the best stereo
Williams’ score is given full reign over the speakers and, perhaps, has the best stereo; the opening and closing credits are suitably loud but even his lighter melodic moments, or those of suspense come through with gusto. Bass is well realised so even though there is no LF effects, there are a number of deep base moments (car exploding) that give a suitable rumble from the corner; the score too makes some good use of the low end (perhaps the best).
Whilst this is all very praiseworthy it is not without its problems, there has been a decent enough clean-up of the track and hiss is at the very minimum, pop and crack have all but been eliminated, but there are still instances of distortion on the track, high end can suffer at times and shouts can also suffer. It is far better than the LPCM mono track, though, which although closer to the original release, and a tighter mix, has some terrible distortion on much of the vocals and louder moments. In all I’d plump for the ‘surround’ track as it sounds cleaner.
The Fury Blu-ray Extras
- Blood on the Lens (27.00) – An interview with cinematographer Richard H Kline who discusses his time making the picture the ideas he brought to it, the professionalism of De Palma and the cast and how many of the optical effects were achieved. Entertaining and informative.
- Spinning Tales (13.38) – Another interview this time with Fiona Lewis. She talks about her time on set, relationships with the other actors and De Palma, of course. Far more anecdotal than either of the other two interviews.
- The Fury: A Location Journal (49.49) – Third and final (new) interview for this release this time with Sam Irvin who interned on The Fury and wrote up several interviews for the magazine Cinefantastique while there. This guy knows just about everything there is to know about the film, he talks about how he was introduced to De Palma, his time on set, his relationships with the cast and crew, how scenes were shot, the editing process, the post production and how it was received. There is a wealth of information here all told in an enthusiastically infectious manner.
- Original Archive Interviews – Four interviews recorded in 1978 to promote the film, very interesting in how they are set up (single camera panning between the interviewer and the guest) is in rather poor shape and even poorer sound, but very interesting in its own right. Included are Brian De Palma (06.03), producer Frank Yablans (06.52), Carry Snodgress (05.05) and Amy Irving (04.45). The chats are very light in tone and every question leads to an answer that in some way promotes the film.
- Double Negative (17.58) – Sam Irvin’s short film tribute to De Palma, telling the story of a director getting his own back on some ruthless producers. Looks to be VHS of a film source, not terrible quality but not great, easily watchable and showcasing some very early talent – I actually quite enjoyed it.
- Gallery (0.53) – A number of production pictures play as a slideshow accompanied to some of the film’s score.
- Reversible Sleeve – Original and newly commissioned artwork from Jay Shaw.
- Booklet – Thoroughly comprehensive writings on the film, printed interviews with De Palma and John Farris, all illustrated with original film stills and poster art.
Is The Fury Blu-ray Worth BuyingThe Fury is Brian De Palma’s second foray into the world of psychics, but whereas Carrie (1976) was a straight-out horror, this time out he deals with shady conspiracies, kidnap, clandestine government agencies and people possessing powers they are afraid of. Based on John Farris’ book of the same name, The Fury is full of De Palma's trademark style, wit and raw guts woven tightly together in a spookily scary story whose fear stems not from those with powers, but those in power. The Fury is not so focused on delivering shocks, but prefers to have a backbone of mystery in amongst bloody mayhem. Securing superstar Kirk Douglas in a starring role and giving the likes of Amy Irving, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress and Charles Durning an equal crack of the whip there is no lack of talent in front of the camera, and with De Palma on strong youthful form behind it and John Williams producing a top class score, the story develops with paranoia and gusto all the while building to an explosive climax. At the time of its release the film did not do particularly well, coming off the back of Carrie as it did, many expected much of the same which it clearly is not, however, it has only matured with age and now comes well recommended.
The Fury is not so focused on delivering shocks, but prefers to have a backbone of mystery in amongst bloody mayhem
As a Blu-ray set Arrow have once again delivered a sterling package – re-mastering the picture from the original camera negative has produced a magnificent restoration, with a bright, detailed and colourful image that belies its age. The sound doesn’t fare quite so well, the surround track being the best of the bunch, though it’s great to also have the isolated music track. The extras are new and plentiful, and give a plethora of information on the making of the film from the people who were there at the time. It comes well recommended.
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