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The Entity (1981)

Nomination Year: 1992
SYNOPSIS:  Carla Moran is a housewife (Barbara Hershey) who is repeatedly raped by an invisible assailant. At first, she submits to treatment with psychiatrist Phil Sneiderman (Ron Silver). When that fails to help, she calls in a team of parapsychologists, who attempt to pinpoint the source of the disturbance. In a flourish of questionable ethics, Dr. Phil begins to develop a personal attachment for the troubled woman, and strongly advises Carla against such an unscientific course of action. But then both Carla's son and recently-returned husband not only witness the phenomena but are injured by them. The parapsychologist team shifts into high gear, setting up an exact replica of Carla's home in the local school gymnasium. Suspended above the mock house is a huge tank of liquid helium, with which the researchers hope to freeze and trap "the entity," using Carla as bait. After a time, they do trap something, but whatever-it-is breaks free of the ice. The whole thing, we are told, is Based on a True Story.

Worst Cover Copy

Hey, Who Riveted Me to My Seat?
The cheesiness of the plot description has to be seen to be believed. Read the following in low, earnest tones:

"Something is after Carla Moran. It wants her soul. It wants her body. There's no stopping it. And there's nowhere she can run. The Entity has come for Carla (Barbara Hershey). She doesn't know what it is or why it has chosen her, but she is its victim [Well, duh... ­Bryan.]. It torments her in her bedroom. It attacks her in a friend's home. It even seizes control of her car while she's behind the wheel and almost kills her. But The Entity won't kill Carla because it has other things in mind for her. Dazzling special effects [Dazzlingly Bad. -B.], powerful acting [Powerfully Bad. -B.], a taut, tightly written script and imaginative direction all combine to make THE ENTITY a powerhouse of a film that will rivet you to your seat."

Being riveted to one's seat is about the only way to sit through it. And don't ask me what "taut" and "tightly written" are supposed to mean.

The above quote is © 1981 Pelleport Investors, Inc., in case anyone cares.

"WHAT?!"

Talk about Cold Spots!
The "experiment" in the gymnasium just gets more and more ludicrous as the scientists explain it to Carla. To paraphrase: "We're going to lure the ghost here to this gymnasium by building an exact duplicate of your house, and next time it attacks you, we'll catch it by freezing it with these suspended liquid helium tanks! And if we're really fortunate, you won't be instantly frozen to death in a chemical shower so cold it makes a bath in liquid nitrogen seem like a Jacuzzi!"

I'd like to know where this parapsychology team gets its research grants. I've seen AIDS task forces with less funding. Not to mention the administrative gymnastics a scientist has to go through to be allowed to perform potentially dangerous experiments on animals, let alone any kind of research on humans. "Let me read the abstract of your experiment here...Hm...exact replica of house...liquid helium tanks...minus 250 degrees...ghost trap... Okay, I'm sold! Grant approved for four million!"

Crummiest Ending

My Heartburn, Though Lessened in Severity, Continues...
At the end of the film, Carla returns to her now-empty house one last time before she and her family move away forever. As she looks grimly around the vacated rooms, the front door slams! No, it's not exciting, really, because all that happens is she opens the door and walks outside to the waiting car. Then we see on the screen: "The story you have seen is based on actual events. The real Carla Moran is living in ...blah blah blah... The attacks, though lessened in frequency and severity, continue." Riiiight.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Barbara Hershey In The Munroes; once married to David Carradine 
Ron Silver Was on Rhoda, but got worse 
Alex Rocco Distinctive voice of Roger Meyers, Jr. on The Simpsons and Thorny in A Bug's Life, his grey head is recognizable in officious bit parts nearly everywhere 
Director Claim to Fame
Sidney J. Furie went on to direct Superman IV, write and direct Iron Eagle, and Iron Eagle II, and worked on many other big-budget (if not always laudable) Legitimate Films 

Bryan Cassidy

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© 2011-2014 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.