The Entity


‘…The Entity is worth a look for genre fans because of the high-seriousness and the mistrust of the male scientific figures involved…’

Quite a sensation in the early 80’s, Sidney J Furie’s The Entity is a brutal account of a woman being regularly assaulted by paranormal forces, and makes a virtue of being based on true events, the well documented case of Doris Bither. Renamed Carla Moran, this woman is played with remarkable candour by Barbara Hershey in this adaptation of Frank De Felitta’s novel, with Ron Silver as the doctor she turns to for help.

Furie doesn’t play the gothic card at all, with drab LA settings adding a strange verisimilitude and building to a truly weird climax where a duplicate of Moran’s house is built on a sound-stage, with the intention of freezing the demon when it appears. The special effects of the demonic attacks are still impressive, even if the whole entertainment value of the film is increasingly problematic.

Of course, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino were front-row fans of the film, and it’s become a cult item since. Hershey locates a sympathetic core in Moran, and the gradual feeling that all the men in her life are in some way exploiting her is persuasive. The vestiges of an incest subplot only serve to confuse issues, but The Entity is worth a look for genre fans because of the high-seriousness and the mistrust of the male scientific figures involved.

If nothing else, now almost certainly is a better time to consider The Entity’s merits than when Scottish television somehow selected this as their festive Christmas Day movie in the mid 1980’s.


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  1. Ah the joys of Scottish telly, best not to ask. Over here in Finland it’s just as crazy with Seth Rogens Sausage Party rated at 7 years and over… Nuff said. Btw crazy casting Yootha Joyce, Stefanie Powers and Tallulah Bankhead… in Fanatic. Now beat that…

  2. Saw in back in the day without an inkling it was based on a real case. I thought it was another Exorcist-style rip-off elevated by the presence of Hershey. But it is very intense and Hershey is superb.

  3. Is this the one with the climax in the basketball gym where they trap “The Entity” by freezing it and it’s giant blob thingy? I seem to recall the “true story” behind this was debunked, as with The Amityville Horror.

    Wow. Way to pull one out of the mothballs. I forgot about this one.

    • I think this is easily one of the most intense possession movies, and yes, it’s got that big-set finish!

  4. I suspect it was chosen as Christmas flick because of tradition of showing/telling scary ghost stories…My grandad always told scary tales around the holidays. Doris’ case (she was actually person movie based on) got quite the buzz in the 70s. It echoed back to tales of spectral ravishing’s and succubus, as told by the Greeks. She had 4 kids and was living in condemned house (CA). Poltergeists were suspected, as were vandals. From what I recall, only one of her kids were attacked, the oldest? Light flashes and moving orbs were documented, as was 1 scratch along Doris’ exposed thigh while she was being filmed. The case was declared a ‘haunting’ by CA Lab and investigators. Decades later reviewers said ‘no objective evidence, no haunting…’ If only someone had been smart enough to borrow a few demon bowls from a museum.

  5. Blimey O’Reilly, I remember seeing this back in the day, one of the reasons I don’t do horror, this awful. I don’t mean a bad movie, just the story was horrible to contemplate from a lady POV and they didn’t shy away from showing it.

    • Great comment, that’s exactly how I feel about it. This is a very well made film about events that, whether you believe this version or not, are extremely disturbing. But back in the No-filter 80’s, this was just another horror film. I’ve tried to avoid too many trigger words in the review, but some warning really is appropriate…

        • It’s fascinating; locals warned them about area and strange occurrences; Doris’ son says they used a Ouija board, and his mom ‘dabbled’ with psychic phenomena in the 60s–mixed that with recreational pharmaceuticals… conflicting reports RE whether kids were assaulted, but all swear they witnessed her get tossed around… Family moved and entities followed. Here’s snippet from 2009 interview with son Brian, Ghost Theory Magazine, “We all experienced some form of attack. There was pushing, biting and scratching being done to us. There were about 4 entities in the home and they made themselves known all the time….I think it took a lot of energy for them to do that.” He described the entities as follows; “It was always like a fog. Like human….but not quite.” During one incident, Brian, who was in his early teens at the time attempted to intervene in his mother’s attack and was thrown across the room.” Doris died 1999, age 58.

          • Wow, this IS interesting intel. As always, I’m in awe of how much more better informed everyone other than me is. My recollection was that this was a better documented case than most, but the all-night shop rarely have demon bowls when you need them. I still stand by the incongruity of STV choosing this for Christmas viewing; the BBC’s ghost stories were one thing, but this is full-on spectral assault, and I carelly avoided a number of trigger words in this review. Oddly, I really do think this film could be remade now, the lack of trust of the men involved feels like it would be better developed now. It’s certainly one of the more credible possession movies…

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