The Unnamable Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Unearthed Films
Directed by Jean-Paul Ouellette
Written by Jean-Paul Ouellette, based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft
1988, 87 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on October 23rd, 2018
Charles King as Howard Damon
Mark Kinsey Stephenson as Randolph Carter
Alexandra Durrell as Tanya Heller
Laura Albert as Wendy Barnes
Eben Ham as Bruce Weeks
Blane Wheatley as John Babcock
Mark Parra as Joel Manton
Delbert Spain as Joshua Winthrop
Randolph Carter is a bookish young man at Miskatonic University and loves to share legends of local folklore. He tells his friends Howard and Joel about a monster that lives in a house just off campus and Joel is inspired to call bullshit by exploring the location himself. Howard gets nervous when Joel doesn’t return, but Carter convinces him that there is a prank in the works. Meanwhile, Wendy and Tanya are invited to the same house by a pair of popular fraternity brothers to prep for an upcoming initiation stunt. As it so happens, there really is a monster in the house and it is hungry and the girls are in trouble. Howard eventually convinces Carter to help him look for Joel and they are dropped into the middle of the chaos already in progress. Carter believes the books in the house hold answers to what is going on, but they must fend off the creature to buy him time to try to save their lives.
The Unnamable is a low-budget horror film based on a short story by author H.P. Lovecraft. The original tale was very short and dense, so liberties were taken during the adaptation process. Written and directed by Jean-Paul Ouellette (The Chinatown Connection), the plot is of the “old dark house” variety and gets our protagonists into the main location with the bare minimum of effort. Once everyone is inside the spook show begins and we run the kids from room to room as they scream in terror. Ouellette does a serviceable job keeping things moving, but there is a long slog through the second act that is as much padding as it is actual plot. There are some creative moments in the picture to be certain, but it really is a by-the-numbers script.
The cast is made up of mostly first-timers--and some only-timers--in front of the camera, but they all do well in their respective roles. Charles King and Alexandra Durrell stand out as Howard and Tanya, a couple forced together in a living hell that they may not survive. Both are given the chance to escape, but stick around to try to save their friends instead. The real star of any monster movie is the titular creature and this one looks pretty badass. This she-devil is part human and what looks like part goat maybe and is a pleasure to see. We get limited glimpses of hands and feet for most of the picture before the big reveal in the final act. I learned in the interviews on this disc that the make-up was applied to the actress in pieces as opposed to being a simple suit that she could slip on. The work is solid and the surrounding gore effects are pretty good too.
Lovecraft movies became pretty popular for a while in the wake of Re-Animator and From Beyond and this project, while not in their league, remains a relatively entertaining entry in the subgenre. The film was successful enough to spawn a sequel in 1992 with Ouellette returning as writer and director along with a few surviving cast members. The Unnamable is a nice way to pass ninety minutes without being required to think too hard. It’s light on scares but contains some decent atmosphere and knows exactly what kind of movie it is.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film has been fully remastered in 4K and color corrected using the original camera negative with pleasing results. A lot of the picture takes place in the dark, but I had zero trouble following the action. Colors are strong and black levels are solid with plenty of small-object detail.
A PCM 2.0 stereo track is joined by an all-new DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and both options are top notch. The expanded mix is the one I preferred as the rear speakers get some activity in the house and there is a bit more rumble in the bass. A Dolby Digital 2.0 “Grindhouse” presentation is also offered for anyone in need of a thinner audio track.
There’s good news and there’s bad news when it comes to special features on this disc. The good news is that Unearthed Films has gone out of its way to present as many goodies possible for fans of this movie, including new interviews and an audio commentary featuring members of the cast and crew. The bad news is that the presentation is lacking in regards to both audio and video.
The audio commentary features actors Charles Klausmeyer, Mark Stephenson, Laura Albert, Eben Ham and make-up artists R. Christopher Biggs and Camille Calvet. The group is boisterous and the track is lively and entertaining, but there is only one mic and everybody talks over each other throughout. Another small gripe is that there are no introductions as to who the participants are. You just have to listen and figure it out.
There are also several long-form (unedited) interviews with various members of the cast and crew, including actors Charles Klausmeyer and Mark Kinsey Stephenson (78 minutes), Eban Ham (31 minutes), Laura Albert (46 minutes) and Mark Parra (34 minutes). Make-up artists R. Christopher Biggs and Camille Calvert (60 minutes) are also included in the mix. The interviews are wide-ranging and cover a lot of territory as the moderator presses for information from the production. The downside here is that in addition to being unedited, the interviews were conducted via Skype and the audio is not always the best.
A photo gallery (31 images) plays as a slideshow set to the film’s main theme.