US movie (1978). 20th Century-Fox. Pr Frank Yablans. Exec pr Ron Preissman. Dir Brian DePalma. Spfx A D Flowers. Mufx Rick Baker. Screenplay John Farris. Based on The Fury (1976) by Farris. Starring John Cassavetes (Childress), Kirk Douglas (Peter), Charles Durning (Dr Jim McKeever), Amy Irving (Gillian Bellaver), Fiona Lewis (Dr Susan Charles), Carol Rossen (Dr Ellen Lindstrom), Carrie Snodgress (Hester), Andrew Stevens (Robin). 117 mins. Colour.
A covert US agency, headed by the vile Childress, attempts to assassinate one of its own agents, Peter, so his psychokinetically gifted son Robin may be experimented upon. Peter strives to track Robin down through the Paragon Institute, where Robin was once tested. Equally gifted – although her Talents, notably psychokinesis and psychometry, are as yet uncontrollable – is a newcomer to the Institute, Gillian. The girl eventually leads Peter to the secret establishment where Robin's talents are being honed. But the agency's efforts have turned the lad into an unstable, paranoid Monster: he kills his mentor and lover, Dr Charles, then attempts likewise with the arriving Peter; but himself dies, transferring his powers to – or taking Possession of (it is unclear which) – Gillian. After Peter's suicide, Gillian (or Gillian/Robin) blows Childress to pieces using raw mind-power.
DePalma had two years earlier scored a hit with another movie about teenage psi powers, Carrie (1976), in which Irving had also starred, and TF is generally dismissed as a return to the same trough. In fact, the two movies are quite different, TF being much more of a thriller with Horror-Movie elements. Irving's focal performance, while it cannot quite camouflage serious plot flaws, is mesmerizing. [JG]
see also: Firestarter (1984).