Entity, The (1982)

The Entity (1982), directed by Sidney J. Furie.

A single mom is repeatedly raped by an invisible demon. The psychologists have her problem all figured out, apart from being totally wrong.

As in The Exorcist (1973) (another single mom!) the scientists cannot accept the supernatural reality of what is happening to her. Their theory: she has subconscious incestuous desires for her teenaged son and resents the two smaller children for holding her back.

She rejects the suggestion, but oddly enough a subplot was cut from the story, where she really did have such feelings. Would that have made it a stronger movie? Is it a cliche that our protagonists must be slightly guilty, and that in horror films hauntings are projections of family problems?

It goes back to the mystery of demonology stories: do the unseen menaces pick their victims randomly, or do we invite them in? You could do both supernatural and psychological versions of that concept.

I saw this in the theater and thought it was pretty raw, low-grade sexploitation, but I've seen it on recommended lists since and thought to give it another try.

Barbara Hershey deserves great credit for giving her all when being brutalized by the unseen demon. She has to do both parts. She was brought in at the last minute when Jill Clayburgh, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, and Bette Midler all turned down the role.

I was startled by her complete nudity, but have read since that much of it was done with fx models and body doubles. That may be easier to see on Blu-ray now than it was when projected in theater. Stan Winston provides some remarkable body effects, as when invisible fingers grope her naked breasts. It seemed quite convincing to me at the time.

On performers' modesty, it's always a question: if the audience thinks they have seen you naked are you saved embarrassment because they really haven't?

After a rewatch: it is still not doing much for me, but I recognize that that different people are frightened by different things. If the inexplicable were happening in my house I would investigate and perhaps be appropriately alarmed by what I found. Freezing a spiritual being with liquid helium seems dubious to me, but then the entity is not entirely spiritual, as seen by its grotesque manifestations.

Spot Margaret Blye as the gal-pal, last seen in Waterhole #3 (1967) and Hombre (1967).

Available on Blu-ray.