One of the films that came out during the low-budget craze of the mid-1980s was CERTAIN FURY. Now, I’m not sure whether the film got a theatrical release in my hometown of Montreal (it probably didn't) but I certainly took notice of it when it appeared on shelves in my neighborhood video store. As some of you know from this, I was already in sync with the trash world back then, having experienced more than my share of exploitation cinema. So for me, CERTAIN FURY featuring, as the poster sheet so proudly proclaims, two "Academy Award Winning Stars" Tatum O’Neal and Irene Cara was a big thing, a definite match made in sleazy heaven. Moreover, being also an ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT junkie at the time, I was even more ecstatic when the film got panned by Leonard Maltin or some other guy. Or was it by SISKEL & EBERT from their AT THE MOVIES days? Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the flick got so many bad reviews I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it (case in point: the lovable awfulness that turned out to be THE LONELY LADY). As expected, I had a ball with CERTAIN FURY. It may not have been as great as the rest of those so bad it’s good cult classics, but it sure as heck had its shares of campiness.
Action-packed, CERTAN FURY is a cross between THE DEFIANT ONES and OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE (minus the intentional jokes). It is directed by Stephen Gyllenhall (yup, Jake and Maggie’s dad), who, I believe, must have been at a low point in his career. I mean, how else can you explain all the excess cheese—brainless heroine moves and titular Cara song included—slung onscreen. Though I have to say that his production values are right up my alley, like the long water-filled sewer scene which must have been a pain to shoot but ends up looking fantastic. They remind me of those of the delectable ANGEL starring Donna Wilkes that graced screens the year before. In fact, I’m sure it’s because of that film success (it made over 17 million in domestic revenues; not too shabby for a low-budget flick) that CERTAN FURY even got made. I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t take advantage of such a cinematic gold mine if one had the chance? Though since there never was a sequel made of CERTAIN FURY, my guess is that the film turned out not to be as lucrative.
I recently re-watched the film just to make sure it was still as fun as I remembered it to be, and it was. Yes, camp enthusiasts, all the sleaziness is indeed intact for this tale of two female felons, with absolutely nothing in common, on the run after being caught up in a bloody shootout in a courtroom that involves singing and throat slashing (!). Then-troubled star Tatum O’Neal (read her autobiography) still manages to give a stiff performance as the streetwise tough cookie charged with murder who’s really a sweetheart underneath the hard-edged front. As her nemesis arrested on lesser charges good girl Irene Cara is as way over her head playing the angry motherless young woman caught in an impasse, though you can see some real acting flair emerging every now and again. Only when both girls wind up on the street does the real fun begin as both unite to escape the law; but not before enduring a slew of highly-humiliating situations that have to be seen to be believed (Cara’s nude shower rape scene, anyone?)
Peter Fonda is in this as well, playing a vile kingpin who, after cutting O’Neal’s face, gets one of the most jaw-dropping "Get this bleeding bitch off my boat!" lines to ever be heard on film. For those not in the know, Fonda was really big during the late ‘60s, mid-‘70s with pictures like EASY RIDER and my personal favorite, RACE WITH THE DEVIL. But something tells me he must have been real good friends with the director to agree to participate in a flick such as this. For why would he disgrace himself like that? Oh yeah, I forgot; the movie features two "Academy Award Winning Stars", who, by the way, completely fail to have any form of a chemistry. So much so that seeing O’Neal going at it again makes you wonder why anybody has not thus far asked for the return of her award winning statuette for PAPER MOON.
I know, it looks like I’m mocking the stars and the film way too much when in truth I simply love everything about CERTAIN FURY. I love the good and the bad parts (mostly the bad because they’re always the most exploitative). It certainly delivers what it’s set out to do, and that is to entertain from beginning to end, whatever the cinematic outcome. One thing’s for sure, though, they don’t make them like that anymore, which is a shame, really. Just like it’s a shame that the film has yet to graduate to DVD. Surely CERTAIN FURY has its share of followers. I can’t be the only one, right?