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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Entity (Blu-ray)
The Entity (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // R // June 11, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted July 19, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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R E P L A Y
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The Entity:

Most definitely the dark side of the coin for 1982 ghost movies, The Entity features numerous similarities with its family-friendly competitor Poltergeist, minus the success, critical acclaim, and common sense. Based on a presumably true story, The Entity features a malignant ghost putting a mom and her kids through hell. Unlike Poltergeist there's no goofy dad to anchor things, nor spookhouse goblins for young horror fans to enjoy. There is, however, plenty of raping.

That's the basic set-up; a struggling single mother finds herself repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by a ghost, in her own home, while her horrified kids try to cope. Mom has a goofy friend to turn to, who convinces her to get help from a psychiatrist, escalating into a team of psychiatrists battling skeptical paranormal investigators to find a solution.

As afflicted mom Carla Moran, Barbara Hershey rolls expertly with the punches the screenplay throws her way, while other major players don't do quite as well. Psychiatrist Phil (Ron Silver) is a strange presence, equal parts callous, caring, and casual, it's hard to draw a bead on his motives or methods, which, I guess, Silver expresses well, as most of the time he seems prepared to devote about 65% of his energy to the role. Carla's very helpful friend Cindy (Margaret Blye) meanwhile appears to be a cast-off from the sit-com Designing Women; an out-sized, breezy, southern caricature who, while essentially saving Carla's life, invests as much energy in affairs as one would offering guests a refill of iced tea. By design The Entity seems poised to fly off the rails at any moment, with near-universally lackadaisical performances saved only by Hershey's heroic efforts, and those of David Labiosa, who portrays Carla's son Billy with naturalism and sincerity lacking from most everyone else.

When The Entity came out I was 12, and I think learned more about the realities of rape from the movie's coverage than from any other source. If I recall correctly, Siskel and Ebert touted the film's terrorizing qualities, too. That's all wrong though, as the truly harrowing rape sequences, during which Hershey leaves it all on the floor, are book-ended by comic relief in the way of: the skeptical investigators, Carla's goofy friend, a generally casual air that belies everything, and the tragic mistake of using a sixty-five-thousand dollar animatronic rubber body to double Hershey during some of Carla's supernatural violations. Though Hershey and the script do quite well representing the uncertainty and fear women and single mothers encounter in daily life, the legitimately unsettling scenes of Carla's horrified children watching while she's raped by a ghost are tempered into complete submission by the tone of the rest of the movie.

The Entity represented a shocking conceit back in 1982: a single mother of three graphically tormented by a rapist ghost. However, despite a heroic performance from Barbara Hershey, director Sidney J. Furie seemingly sought to soften his movie's shocking blows with lots of casual comic relief, and (unintentionally) some critical special effects that are laughable today (and probably were then). Numerous parallels with the superior, contemporaneous movie Poltergeist don't help matters, meaning The Entity, in this decent Blu-ray upgrade, can only be Recommended to serious ghost movie collectors. Those with casual curiosity should just Rent It.
The DVD

Video:
The Entity will haunt you in this 2.35:1 ratio presentation, which preserves a nice amount of film grain, while still promoting good detail levels from this early-'80s shocker. Colors are nicely naturalistic enjoying the movie's surprisingly warm palette. Black levels are good as well, appropriate for a nighttime horror movie that has otherwise been cleaned up well, and brightened a little as well, to add further depth to the picture.

Sound:
The Entity's audio choices are of the lossless variety, and include DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 4.1 surround, and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound. In general, things sound good, with creepy dimensionality ratcheted up nicely as you climb the channel chain. Dialog is clean and clear as well. The theatrical score seems intentionally programmed to come in very hot, with the assault scenes accompanied by a aggressive, pounding soundtrack that's mixed pretty loud and does its job via the ‘overkill' method. Some his is found on the high end of the 5.1 track, that's not apparent in the other tracks.

Extras:
Extras include a new Audio Commentary with Sidney J. Furie scholar Daniel Kremer. The track is quite informational, both in terms of The Entity and Furie's directing life in general. Star Barbara Hershey delivers an engaging 20-minute Interview, rightfully touting her hard work on the film, as well as other tidbits. Hershey's screen-son David Labiosa also gets 13 minutes of Interview time. He puts it to good use. Composer Charles Bernstein gets 17 minutes to convince us of the suitability of his scoring choices in his own Interview, while editor Frank J. Urioste delves into film-geek minutia during his Interview.
Suspiria remake director Luca Guadagnino does the Trailers From Hell bit on this movie's theatrical trailer, and his breathless excitement just might make you want to spool up the movie again right away. The Entity Files is a 28-minute featurette from the earlier Anchor Bay release of the movie. It's an entertaining and informative look at the real-life origins of the story recreated in the movie. A Reversible Cover, Trailers and TV Spots, Radio Spots (man, I miss the days when they would make movie ads, especially horror movie ads, for the radio), and a Stills Gallery finish things off.

Final Thoughts:
The Entity represented a shocking conceit back in 1982: a single mother of three graphically tormented by a rapist ghost. However, despite a heroic performance from Barbara Hershey, director Sidney J. Furie seemingly sought to soften his movie's shocking blows with lots of casual comic relief, and (unintentionally) some critical special effects that are laughable today (and probably were then). Numerous parallels with the superior, contemporaneous movie Poltergeist don't help matters, meaning The Entity, in this decent Blu-ray upgrade, can only be Recommended to serious ghost movie collectors. Those with casual curiosity should just Rent It.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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