Horror Review: The Entity (1982)

A woman is tormented by an invisible demon.

When it comes to paranormal films we are definitely spoilt for choice, but some are just in a class of their own.

Now whether you believe in this sort of thing or not, there’s no doubting that this sub-genre has given us some amazing films. In my opinion “The Entity” is easily one of the best of the lot and I’m not on my own, Director Martin Scorsese included this movie on his ‘Top 11 Scariest Horror Films Of All Time’ list.

The film is ‘based on a true story’, that being the investigation of Doris Bither in the 1970’s. Of-course there is dramatizations and slight alterations of what supposedly happened (that’s film-making for you) but it doesn’t make the movie any less suspenseful and gripping.

Barbara Hershey who plays our leading lady ‘Carla Moran’ puts in an absolutely amazing performance. You truly feel that she embodies her character and manages to pull every bit of empathy out of the viewer, no matter how many times I’ve seen this film it’s always the same.

As sensational as this film can be it also has some amazing writing and genuinely spooky scenes that even todays audience may find quite disturbing. The intense music also gets to you, you can feel your adrenaline start to pump as soon as it starts up (if you’ve seen the film then you know what I mean).

“The Entity” is a film I feel has been somewhat lost over time which is a real shame, I think it’s time to correct that and help people rediscover this feature.

If you want to see “The Entity” trailer then just click on the video below:

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

The real-life Carla Moran’s teenage son described a particularly vicious attack in which Carla was thrown by the malevolent force and hit her head. He tried to intervene, but he was also thrown, breaking his arm. In the filming of the movie, the actor playing the son broke his arm in that scene, and the curtains tore from top to bottom without explanation.

The paranormal and supernatural events depicted in this movie purportedly first took place in 1974, which was around seven to eight years before this film was made and released.

For the scenes where the entity assaults Carla Moran at night touching her breast while she is sleeping, the visual effects team designed a prosthetic breastplate and full body that could be “indented” from below pretending fingers that “touch” her body.

In a July 2012 interview published in Rue Morgue magazine, the film’s director, Sidney J. Furie, said that he did not consider this movie to be a horror film.

Actresses Jane Fonda, Jill Clayburgh, Bette Midler and Sally Field were initially sought for the role played by Barbara Hershey.

Composer Charles Bernstein’s score for this film is excerpted in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009).

The method in which Carla is diagnosed by physicians, a method which relies heavily on her personal history, and in particular her relationship with her father and her sexual encounters with other men, reflects a largely Freudian psychodynamic method of diagnosis. This, combined with the fact that she is initially diagnosed by the team of doctors as having “hysteria,” a disorder that has disappeared from mainstream American psychiatric diagnostics, makes this movie one of the last in which Freudian methods and conceptions (largely related to sex and childhood development) are shown to have a significant impact on the diagnosis of patients. With the rise of neurochemistry, neuroscience, and biological tests in the 1980s, 1990s and beyond, Freudian methods like those portrayed in the film would themselves become considered by many mainstream biological psychiatrists to be superstitious.

This movie was originally planned to be released in 1981 but did not debut in theaters until late 1982, with some territories including Australian and its American release in the U.S. not launching until early 1983. Generally, the film was released a short time after 1982’s other poltergeist movie, Poltergeist (1982).

This movie is based on the real life attack of a Californian woman named Doris Bither. According to Bither, she was constantly raped by the spirits of three men. Two would hold her down while the third raped her.

A whole dream sequence where Carla was forced to have incestuous thoughts about her son by the Entity was dropped for the movie by director Sidney J. Furie, because it was too sexually controversial at that time. This was despite the then recently released Bernardo Bertolucci film, Luna (1979), which examined a mother-son relationship and also being from the same 20th Century Fox studio.

Both George Coe (Dr. Weber) and Alex Rocco (Jerry Anderson) died on July 18, 2015.

Further excerpts of the original score by Charles Bernstein of this film can be heard in the original version of “A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)”.

The initial reviews were so negative that Barbara Hershey thought it was the worst decision of her career to accept this role.

This was one of two supernatural horror movies made during the late 1970s and early 1980s that were adapted from a novel by Frank De Felitta. The other was Audrey Rose (1977).

This film was made and released about four years after its source novel of the same name by Frank De Felitta was first published in 1978. A frequent dust-jacket blurb for the book read, “Beyond physical reality, beyond ecstasy and pain, to a dark netherworld of psycho-sexual truth.”

A video game adaptation was developed by 20th Century Fox in 1982 for the Atari 2600. Though it was never officially released, a playable prototype surfaced years later and is available online.

According to Dr. Barry Taff, the director rewrote the original script. He has also stated that the director didn’t believe the real life story and just thought they were all a bunch of drugged-out wackos.

The Bollywood film Hawa (2003) was based on this film.

Robert MacNaughton auditioned for a role for this film after being asked by the casting director, who saw him in an off-Broadway play in New York.

In this movie, Barbara Hershey’s character is pursued by an evil being. Eventually, she played a character who is the mother of a family man pursued by an evil being, in Insidious (2010) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013).

Poltergeist came out the same year; and both movies are about evil spirits assaulting a family. Both movies infact feature a scene where the young mother seems to be sexually assaulted by the evil force. Although the Entity spends the entire movie dwelling on that in lurid and violent detail whereas Poltergeist just has one brief scene where that is inferred. Poltergeist also got glowing reviews and wonderful box office returns; whereas Entity was a critical and commercial disappointment; ( in part because of heavy hitting competition that year from Poltergeist and ET).

After the premiere, some teenagers of that time sarcastically re-titled the movie as “The En-Titty”, after the scene where the Entity attacks Carla while she sleeps, touching her nude breast.

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