The Entity is one of those films I remember from my youth. I’m surprised I wasn’t traumatized by it along with The Shining, maybe I was, I don’t know. If you haven’t seen this movie you may not have a clue about what I’m talking about. Barbara Hershey bares all in this movie, which for a young man coming of age is a great thing, but she does so when she is getting raped by a ghost, which is not such a great thing. Oh and if you don’t know what I’m talking about in regard to The Shining you need to go watch that movie again.
Carla is a single mother of three kids trying to better herself in school while raising her kids. One night out of the blue in her bed a pillow is shoved in her face and she is raped. Her son hearing her scream rushes in and she tells him to check the house that she was just attacked. He finds no one. Later it happens again and she grabs her kids and leaves the house. Her kids and her friends think she’s lost her mind and she eventually decides to see a psychiatrist played by Ron Silver.
While staying at her fiends house the ghost basically rips the house a new one with her friend watching. Unlike what’s so common in other movies of this type the filmmakers allow the family and friends to witness these horrible acts so they can’t continue to accuse her of being crazy. In fact the most memorable scene in the film occurs when her boyfriend enters her bedroom and finds her completely naked, pinned to the bed, and being raped. He actually sees impressions of invisible hands on her breasts. Not being able to handle this situation the boyfriend leaves her. This scene is still referenced as one of the scariest scenes in a Poltergeist type movie to date, even being spoofed in Scary Movie 2.
These sequences are disturbing not just because of the imagery but also because of Hershey’s amazing performance. When I saw the film so many years ago I believed she was being raped and I believed it was tearing her apart mentally and physically. One sequence involved the ghost coming to her while she was asleep and her actually having an orgasm due to his attack (it’s not as gratuitous as it may sound). She awakes mad and ashamed and breaks down completely. One other turning point is when she is actually happy that she was attacked where people could see. Imagine being happy to be raped in front of her friend. She was hurt again physically but she felt validated mentally. Hershey pulls the scene off with a stunning amount of real emotion.
Here we come to the biggest problem with the film. Up to this point the film has been quite dark in dealing with real emotions and experiences in an unreal situation. But now with her friend and family behind her she seeks the help of parapsychologists. Like what you see in so many films of this era they are quirky and a bit weird and they have tons of sci-fi equipment. The tone of the film lightens a bit through here with some special effects that didn’t stand the test of time the way Hershey’s performance did. The ultimate plan the parapsychologists come up with is a little ridiculous as well. But it never goes to far because Hershey although happy for the support never strays from the level of mental devastation that these attacks have put her through. The fact that Carla is so desperate for help that she will listen to these crackpots and put herself in physical danger under their care displays how high her level of desperation is.
All things considered I was blown away by how well The Entity has stood the test of time. It’s still just as affecting as it was back in 1981. If it had maintained the high level of darkness and avoided the popcorn science it could have been a classic. Even with this flaw, in an era full of copycats The Entity stands above them as a unique entry into the genre. In many ways I like this film better than Poltergeist.
This widescreen transfer looks about as good as I’ve ever seen this movie look. Colors look great and artifacts are kept to a minimum. Darker scenes are a bit murky and there is some grain but considering the age of the film it looks quite good.
The Dolby 2.0 mix is adequate but not mind blowing. Dialogue, sound effects, and score are well mixed and clean. A 5.1 remix of this film would have been amazing but due to the age of the film the source material was probably in mono so remixing in 5.1 would have been a pretty intense project.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc release comes in a standard amaray keep case. The artwork is better than some of the original poster designs but to me it still doesn’t fairly represent the film.
The only significant extra is an extensive interview called The Entity Files with UCLA Parapsychologist Dr. Barry Taff, the man who investigated the real events that the film is based on. He compares the film to the real events and shares his experiences investigating this type of phenomena. It’s interesting to hear someone who works in this realm discuss the real world aspects of it after watching the film.
Other than that there’s some posters, a trailer, and the original script as a DVD-ROM feature. An audio commentary would have been amazing, or even an interview with the special effects supervisor discussing that infamous scene would have been great.
As I’ve said Hershey is amazing, Ron Silver is also good, the script is taut and streamlined, and the direction is steady and serious. Film fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up. It takes a much more serious R rated tone than Poltergeist and is better for it. If only the film hadn’t taken the parapsychologist cue from Poltergeist it would have been even better. The Entity is set to be remade next year by Hideo Nakata, who directed the excellent Asian horror films Dark Water and Ringu. If this remake were being done in Japan I’d have hope for it but it’s being made in the United States. If you want to see what happens with Nakata’s work in the U.S. just look at our review of The Ring Two. Just go buy this DVD!
Overall ( Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10