7.0/10
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61 user 47 critic

The Medusa Touch (1978)

PG | | Horror, Sci-Fi | 7 April 1978 (UK)
Psychological thriller about a telekinetic novelist who causes disasters simply by thinking about them.

Director:

Jack Gold

Writers:

John Briley (screenplay), Peter Van Greenaway (novel)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... John Morlar
Lino Ventura ... Detective-inspector Brunel
Lee Remick ... Dr. Zonfeld
Harry Andrews ... Assistant Commissioner
Alan Badel ... Quinton - Barrister
Marie-Christine Barrault ... Patricia Morlar
Jeremy Brett ... Edward Parrish
Michael Hordern ... Altropos - Fortune Teller
Gordon Jackson ... Dr. Johnson
Michael Byrne ... Sergeant Duff
Derek Jacobi ... Moulton - John's publisher
Robert Lang ... Pennington
Avril Elgar Avril Elgar ... Mrs. Pennington
John Normington ... Mr. Copley - John's schoolmaster
Robert Flemyng ... Judge McKinley
Edit

Storyline

John Morlar (Richard Burton) is watching a British television broadcast when an anchorman states that American astronauts are trapped in orbit around the moon. Suddenly someone in Morlar's room picks up a figurine and strikes him on the head repeatedly. His blood splatters the television screen. French Detective-Inspector Brunel (Lino Ventura) arrives at Morlar's apartment to begin an investigation. At first he thinks Morlar is dead, but soon he hears him breathe. At the hospital, Morlar is hooked up to life support systems, one machine in particular monitors the activity of his battered brain. Brunel discovers that Morlar has been in psychological analysis because of his history of being witness to many disasters, other people's disasters. Dr. Zonfeld (Lee Remick), Morlar's analyst, explains that Morlar's delusions had begun when he was a child. He believed that he had caused a hated nanny's death. Morlar's childhood delusions were reinforced at a resort when he overheard his parents... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Richard Burton is the man with the medusa touch ... he has the power to create catastrophe. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 April 1978 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

O Toque da Medusa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor) (as Technicolor®)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of several movies which were part of a cycle of movies involving E.S.P. or telekinesis made during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The others include Carrie (1976), Patrick (1978), Zapped! (1982), Scanners (1981), Firestarter (1984), Modern Problems (1981), and The Fury (1978). See more »

Goofs

As Inspector Brunel watches the TV news a close-up of the screen reveals that the caption saying "Minster Cathedral" is actually stuck on to the TV screen rather than forming part of the TV picture. The letters cast shadows on to the glass. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Johnson: [sees Brunel] Oh, Inspector Brunel, what a pain in the derrière you're being.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
well directed, well cast, excellent adaptation of book
6 December 2004 | by ginish666See all my reviews

The manner in which the film was chronographed was somewhat unique. In real time the main character, Morlar, is comatized by severe head trauma. In fact the movie opens with his attempted murder. The unfolding of events in the ensuing investigation are presented with smooth transitions from flashback to present in order to create a sense of fatalistic inevitability. The director takes a very difficult path to achieve this but I think he pulled it off very effectively. Look for little tricks to smooth out the staccato chronological transitions. Small similarities between outgoing and incoming scenes create a more seamless effect.Also, the sounds of a former scene would linger for a couple of seconds after the transition, further uniting past & present to emphasize the inevitable hopelessness of the inspectors situation. It also serves to demonstrate Morlar's indomitable, fatalistic will.

All the characters are well (and cleverly)cast, particularly Richard Burton as Morlar. VonGreenway's book comments on the intensity of Morlar's character and his riveting gaze. Burton was obviously intimately familiar with the text as his rendition of Morlar is, to say the least, riveting.

The apocryphal elements added by the director, the cataclysmic disasters vastly improve the story's big-screen appeal, even if they were a bit of a departure from the text. The director simplifies the text by only indirectly referring to Morlar's political agenda. To follow the text in this would be setting up an entirely different story and would distract from the immediacy of the peril Morlar represents for the inspector and the psychiatrist.

The "tongue in cheek" manner in which these two meet serves to show a comprehensive understanding of the text, it gives clear notice (to those familiar with the book) the text cannot realistically be followed in every way. "I'm sorry I was expecting a man." the inspector explains his reaction to her. "That's alright, I was expecting an English Inspector." She responds. This, of course, was a reference to the characters as they appeared in the book.

This is a well directed film, making sense of a difficult text in an acceptable time frame. Richard Burton was an excellent choice as Morlar, he has a dominating presence that lends well to the character. These things along with an excellent rendition of a sensational, compelling story make the Medusa Touch one of the best suspense films ever.


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