Monday, December 15, 2008

The Unseen (1981) Movie Review

Code Red Dvd (a company I fully endorse) released a souped up dbl disc of this horror a couple months ago and I just picked it up on payday. I'm glad I did.
Appropriately I went through 2/3's of my life having not seen or heard of The Unseen.The Unseen quickly jumped to my "must see" list back in the late 90s, when I spied the review in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film and envisioned the grandeur of Stephen Furst of a killer-feral-retarded-baby-man. I was a big fat fan of Stephen as Flounder in Animal House (natch), but moreso his work as rich asshole Harold in Midnight Madness (an all time fave), so I was just dying to see him killing some people, wreaking havoc, being a k-f-r-b-m, etc. After many roadtrips to all the mom n pop video stores near my parents' house (now all gone) I found the ultrarare vhs and got ready for the shocking, ridiculous and over the top horror movie my 20 year old brain had conjured.
I was vaguely disappointed. Although Sidney Lassick's performance stayed embedded in my brain, I was rather bummed that the titular "unseen" remains so unseen through the whole first hour of the movie. I was also let down by the lack of shocking violence I was so reliant on back in those days.
You can probably tell where I'm going with this: seeing this flick beyond it's rarity and potential for over-the-topness, The Unseen becomes something more satisfying. It's a measured and creepy "creepy house" movie that's reliant more on it's performances and what is actually "unseen." It's no classic, but it's a nice change of pace, and both Sidney Lassick and Stephen Furst really give a memorable couple of intense performances. It's also nice that in 1981 we don't get teenage axe-fodder, but 3 young professional ladies, even if they are also not really fleshed out, though I liked the dynamic of main chick Barbara Bach and her would be football hero boyfriend.
The story is simplicity itself. 3 young women go to a town to cover a news story, go to a creepy hotel/museum outside of town, meet the weird family and are stalked and murdered. Not much more to say here.
I really think that the new tranfer from Code Red is what brings Stephen Furst's work to the fore, cuz I remember barely being able to see those final scenes on the old VHS. I'm sure you know what iI'm talking about if you ever watched low budget films on VHS that have scenes in basements or in the woods at night. I haven't watched any of the extras yet (save for the interview with SF), so I can't tell you about any of those yet, but there's a bunch of stuff, and if you have any other Code Red releases, you can guess that they are gonna be thorough.
So, if you are a fan of early 80s horror cinema and don't need necessarily tons of gore, I'd highly recommend this little slab.

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