Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THE ENTITY (1982) (Umbrella Blu-ray Review)

THE ENTITY (1982) 

Label: Umbrella Entertainment 
Region Code: Region A/B
Rating: 18 Certificate 
Duration: 125 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Cast: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa, George Cole, Alex Rocco  

Single-mom Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey, Black Swan)lives at home with her teenage son Billy (David Labiosa) and two adolescent daughters, she's an average California mom, until one night while alone in her room she is assaulted and raped by an unseen force, that's right folks, ghost rape! Now let me be clear, this sounds like pure schlocky exploitation, but there's more to it then that shocking premise would imply. 

The assault happens again, only with more poltergeists activity surrounding it, causing she and her children flee the home in terror for the night. Follow-up assaults nearly cause a car accident and leave behind visual marks, including hand prints and bite marks on her inner thigh. However, when her teen son says that no one was in the house she begins to think that maybe she's crazy, and seeks the help of psychologist Dr. Sneiderman (Ron Silver, The Arrival), who believes that the incidents are delusions caused by childhood sexual trauma, which are revealed during the therapy sessions.

The assaults continue, including one right in front of her kids, her son tries to intervene but is caught in some sort of electrical discharge and thrown across the room, breaking his arm. Carla then run s into a pair of parapsychologists from the local college at a bookstore, though they are skeptical of her story at first they decide to spend the night in the house and are shocked by the previously unfathomed supernatural activity happening within the home and around the woman, thus beginning a full-on 24-hour monitoring of the home, and the attacks seem stop altogether though supernatural activity is still taking place. 

With the attacks seemingly waning in strength Carla begins to feel more at ease, feeling that the parapsychologists are more effective than Dr. Sneiderman's therapies, though he still tries to convince her that the he feels the events are all in her head - which from experience I can tell you is no way to win an argument with a woman. One night while trying to have an intimate moment with her boyfriend Jerry (Alex Rocco, Freebie and the Bean), we experiences the most horrific assault to date, which is witnessed by Jerry with the spectral terror pinning Carla nude to the bed, in a graphic visual of her breasts being groped by the unseen force, this is a scene I saw on TV as a kid and it traumatized me in a weird way, on one had the adolescent mind was curious about the breasts, on the other hand the ghostly sexual assault horrified me! 

The movie culminates with a weird experiment at the university where Carla's house has been painstakingly recreated in a controlled environment, and the plan is too freeze the spectral terror using liquid helium, which also puts Carla in great danger, but so desperate is she to be rid of the ghostly rapist that she's willing to risk death,

The movie certainly traumatized e as a kid, I still think it's a harrowing watch, due in part to the atmospheric visuals captured by cinematographer Stephen H. Burum (Body Double), and a strong script by Frank De Felitta (Audrey Rose), but in my mind anchored by the sympathetic yet strong performance from Barbara Hershey, who is phenomenal here. This is a movie that easily could have gone wrong in so many ways and numerous times, it could have slipped into the realm of ghostly exploitation, but thanks to the controlled direction of Sidney J. Furie (The Jazz Singer) and a wonderful turn from Hershey it walks the line, but there are times I think it goes a bit too sensational, notably during the "thrasher" music cue which starts up during the attack scenes, in hindsight it is a bit cheesy, and sounds like a similar music sting used in Maximum Overdrive (1986), and again when the entity speaks a single line of dialogue at the end, but overall this one is still a frightening, and harrowing tale of supernatural rape. 

Audio/Video: The Entity (1982) arrives on Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment in 1080p HD framed in the 2.35:1 scope aspect ratio, looking quite nice. Apparently sourced from the same 20th Century HD master used by both Anchor Bay in the US and Eureka in the UK. Overall the image looks good, clarity and detail is quite nice, grain is nicely resolved, and black levels look solid, but there s some murkiness in the darker scenes, but grain is nicely managed and colors look wonderful.  

Audio comes by way a a English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 track that is quite strong and well-balanced, the dialogue is crisp and clean, and the Charles Bernstein score is both atmospheric and menacing, it really amps up when the "thrasher" attack theme is cranked. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

As where both the Anchor Bay and Eureka Blu-ray releases were bare bones Umbrella come through with some exclusive extras, we get a half-hour interview with composer and Charles Bernstein (A Nightmare on Elm Street) who speaks at length bout the process of scoring the film, including building the "thrasher" attack theme.  Strangely actor Robert MacNaughton (E.T.) shows up for a three-minute interview speaking about auditioning for a role in the film and not getting it, but how Barbara Hershey was instrumental in him landing the gig on E.T. with Stephen Spielberg. 

The single-disc Blu-ray release comes housed in the usual over-sized Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring new artwork, the reverse side features a variant of the same artwork minus the rating label, and the disc features the same key art. While this release is labeled as a region B locked release but I am pleased to say that, if not region-free, it plays on region A players just fine! 

Special Features: 
- Finding a Voice: A Conversation with composer Charles Bernstein (34 min) 
- Robert McNaughton Remembers The Entity (3 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Poster and Stills Gallery (2 min) 
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork 

I love this spectral-terror thriller, it's a weird one, a rape story by way of The Legend of Hell House (1973) complete with psycho-analysis, parapsychology, and harrowing sexual assault - yet somehow it manages not to be a slice of ghost/rape exploitation. There are a few cheesy moments, but this is still a harrowing supernatural tale, and Barbara Hershey plays it to the hilt without going over-the-top. The Blu-ray from Umbrella has very good A/V and it's great finally have at least some new extras, if you're a fan of the film this is the one to get.